With the help of a tugboat, the MN Baroque vessel made a successful test transit through the newly-constructed locks of the Panama Canal on June 9 in Panama City.
The Panama Canal Authority hired the ship to finish the trial, before the Agua Clara locks are officially inaugurated on June 26.
(Soundbite, Spanish) Ilya Maroma, Canal Expansion Engineer
“Today we only make a test transit. … In the future, closer to June 26, we will probably do one or two lockage a day, not with the Baroque, but some of our own vessels.”
The 9-year 5.25 billion U.S. dollars canal expansion work featured the third set of locks for the 102-year old canal.
180 feet wide and 1,400 feet long, one end of the new locks is on the Pacific coast on the outskirts of Panama City and one on the northern coast at the city of Colon.
(Soundbite, Spanish) Giuseppe Quarta, Expansion Contractor
“I certainly feel very excited and privileged. I am seeing something that many of my colleagues want to see. That is a magical work from a certain point of view. It is unique. This is what an engineer most wants to accomplish in his career.”
The new locks were designed for New Panamax-class vessel, which can carry 13,000 to 14,000 cargo containers, about 2.5 to 3 times those of current ships.
With 4 to 5 New Panamaxes through the new locks each day, the canal’s capacity will get tripled.