Panama City, 16 August 2001. – Today, during the celebrations of the Panama Canal’s 87th anniversary, a symbolic shovelful was the highlight of a special ceremony held at Gaillard Cut to mark the end of the land-based sub aquatic dredging project.

These works, which are part of the Cut widening program, were accomplished by the personnel that operates the LIEBHERR land-based excavator, four off- road hauling trucks, three tractors and a motor grader, under the supervision of engineers of the Exterior Maintenance Section of the Panama Canal’s Maintenance Division.

Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta presided this ceremony, another milestone of the Gaillard Cut widening program, scheduled to be completed by the end of this year.

Operations began on August 24, 1997, and consisted of excavations and dredging on the east and west banks. The total volume of excavated material was 3.3 million bank cubic meters (bcm’s): 2,380,000 bcm’s of dredged material, 170,000 bcm’s of material from landslides, and 750,000 bcm’s of material from support work.

Personnel involved in this project included three groups of twelve operators, three groups of two mechanics, two groups of two lubricators, and two project engineers, all of whom worked in two shifts of ten hours each, six days a week.

The LIEBHERR excavator was purchased for $1.95 million, weighs 253 tons, with a bucket capacity of 5.7 cubic meters. It was manufactured by a German company and assembled in the United States. This excavator is 7.31 meters high, 6.40 meters wide, and its arm has a 17.67 meters reach. Its maximum excavation capability is 9.15 meters.

The LIEBHERR was especially designed to excavate under water, bringing out material with its long arm, while its main body remains on land. It fulfilled a very important function in the widening of the Cut, one of the main components of the Canal’s $1 billion accelerated modernization and improvement program which began in 1996.