Panama City, Panama, June 25, 2016 – With less than one day until the highly anticipated Inauguration of the Expanded Canal, all eyes are on Panama. Countless heads of state, government officials, Panama Canal customers, maritime leaders and international journalists will gather in Panama from across the globe to witness history being made tomorrow, June 26.
Today, the Panama Canal held a variety of briefings and tours, highlighting the benefits that the Expansion will bring to global trade, U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, global retailers and consumers around the world. Panama Canal Deputy Administrator Manuel Benitez delivered remarks on the Expansion Program and discussed the significant contributions made by the Canal’s dedicated workforce.
“It is only by witnessing this marvel firsthand that one truly appreciates the magnitude of this undertaking,” said Mr. Benitez. “This weekend, we celebrate the inauguration of this incredible maritime infrastructure project and honor the thousands who made it a reality.”
Following his remarks, Mr. Benitez and the Expansion’s project manager Ilya Marotta-who Forbes named as one of the 50 most powerful woman in Central America-answered questions from the assembled international journalists.
Captain Fernando Jaen, Panama Canal Pilot Trainer, joined Mr. Benitez on stage to discuss the extensive training programs that prepared workers for the opening of the Expanded Canal. The Panama Canal’s Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility provides additional hands-on training for Canal pilots and captains to maneuver in the new locks, complementing the training conducted at the Canal’s Center for Simulation, Research and Maritime Development (SIDMAR).
Directly following Captain Jaen’s remarks, international journalists toured the Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility and the Miraflores Locks.
Later in the evening, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela and Canal Administrator and CEO Jorge L. Quijano hosted a customer event to formally present the final project to Panama Canal customers, recognizing their importance to the Canal and expressing appreciation for their ongoing support.
Tomorrow, Sunday, June 26, the Panama Canal will officially inaugurate the Expanded waterway with its first commercial transit. The Neopanamax containership COSCO Shipping Panama, which left the Greek Port of Piraeus June 11, will enter the new Agua Clara Locks early Sunday morning. Several hours later, it will arrive at the new Pacific-facing Cocoli Locks as part of the formal Inauguration ceremony.
The Expansion Program is the Canal’s largest enhancement project. It included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. While the Expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original Canal, they use less water due to water-savings basins that recycle 60 percent of the water used per transit.
Considered and analyzed for a decade with more than 100 studies, the Expansion provides greater economies of scale to global commerce. It will introduce new routes, liner services, and segments (such as liquefied natural gas). In line with its commitment to customer service, the Panama Canal will continue to provide the world with value for another century and beyond.
About the Panama Canal Authority
The Panama Canal is run by an autonomous agency of the Government of Panama in charge of managing, operating and maintaining the Panama Canal. The operation of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) is based on its organic law and the regulations approved by its Board of Directors. For more information, please refer to the ACP’s website: http://www.pancanal.com or follow us on Twitter @thepanamacanal.
About the Panama Canal Expansion Program
The Expansion Program is the largest enhancement project since the Canal’s opening in 1914. Considered and analyzed for a decade with more than 100 studies, the Expansion provides the world’s shippers, retailers, manufacturers and consumers with greater shipping options, better maritime service, enhanced logistics and supply-chain reliability. The Expansion included the construction of a new set of locks on the Atlantic and Pacific sides of the waterway and the excavation of more than 150 million cubic meters of material, creating a second lane of traffic and doubling the cargo capacity of the waterway. While the Expanded locks are 70 feet wider and 18 feet deeper than those in the original Canal, they use less water due to water-savings basins that recycle 60 percent of the water used per transit. In line with its commitment to customer service, the Panama Canal will continue to provide the world with value for another century and beyond.