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Panama Canal Expansion

Dredging of Atlantic entrance of canal completed


CARIBBEAN MARITIME, in the service of history, here continues its series of updates in recording progress in this major construction project. CSA members attending the Association’s 43rd Annual General Meeting in October 2013 will get the rare opportunity to visit this epoch-making construction project.

The dredging of the Atlantic entrance of the Panama Canal has been completed. This huge dredging project, a key component of the Panama Canal Expansion project, was officially declared complete on 25th April 2013 by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

The dredging contract was awarded to the Belgian company Jan De Nul NV on 25th September 2009 and was completed at a cost of $109.3 million.

The works consisted of widening the Atlantic (Caribbean) navigation channel from 198 to 225 metres and the creation of the northern approximation channel to the Third Set of Locks in the Atlantic. This approximation channel is 218 metres wide. The contract also included the deepening of the channel to 16.1 metres below mean low sea water level.

The full works contract involved the dredging of 16.8 million cubic metres along an extension of 13.8 km and the excavation of 0.81 million cubic metres. This required the use of a wide variety of dredging equipment, including the dredges Marco Polo (for cutting and suction), Filippo Brunelleschi (a trailing suction hopper), the Vitruvius (a backhoe), and Charles Darwin (a post panamax trailing suction hopper).

Dredging contracts 

To date, the following dredging contracts have been completed under the Panama Canal Expansion Programme:

• Dredging of the Pacific entrance and reaches north of Gatun Lake, both executed by the Belgian company  Dredging International de Panamá, S.A.

• Dredging of the northern entrance of the Pacific Access Channel, executed by Jan De Nul

• Dredging in Culebra Cut, conducted by canal dredging personnel and equipment, were completed in the first quarter of 2013.