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Third set of locks


The design of the third set of locks for the Panama Canal is in charge of International Consultants subcontractor (CICP). CICP is led by MWH Global with TetraTech, California, USA and Iv-Infra from the Netherlands.

The design specialists MWH locks gave the design of a system that will allow high performance, efficient operation and maintenance, with a minimum consumption of water, all within the strict technical requirements and specifications established by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP).

  • Locks Walls: The design of the walls will have drains, which reduce the hydrostatic and hydrodynamic loads, achieving more efficient structures that achieve the performance goals of strength and durability.
  • Seismic Design: sing cutting edge techniques of seismic design, configurations were developed for the walls of the locks that meet stringent seismic criteria at minimal cost.
  • Use of Water: he water recovery basins are the largest in the world. The tubs are designed to be reused up to 60% of water consumed by the lockage. The design features a fill and drain system that meets stringent performance criteria for efficiency and system performance.
  • Integrated Operations and Controls: The design of the lock gates to open and close quickly, in conjunction with an efficient filling and emptying system based on an innovative hydraulic design and control technology and security operation allow efficiency and system performance are maximized.


The design and construction of the Third Set of Locks is the main component of the Program for the Expansion of the Panama Canal. This program aims to provide a transit system for Post-Panamax ships through the complex construction of locks on the Atlantic side and on the Pacific side of the channel. The new locks will increase the capacity of the Panama Canal to meet existing and future demands of maritime traffic.

Mechanism. The locks will raise vessels in transit from the water level in the Atlantic or the Pacific about 26 meters to the water level of Lake Gatun. Then, the locks will lower the ship to sea level at the opposite end of the channel.

The raising and lowering operations shall be conducted in three stages over three chambers: low, medium and high. In order to limit the amount of water wasted by the opening of the cameras and to provide sufficient water for operations in time of low rainfall, the new system has tubs of water recovery. This will allow larger vessels to transit the Canal using up to 7% less water than the existing locks.

In the Atlantic, the works are located with the same lineup planned expansion in the attempt carried out between 1939 and 1942 east of the existing locks. These old excavations shall be filled in order to found the tubs of water recovery. The tubs are located west of the alignment of the new locks.

In the Pacific sector of new locks are arranged in a unique place to bridge the gap between the ocean and Lake Gatun. For this reason, a channel connecting the upper basin of the new locks directly with the Cut, avoiding the leap that currently exists in Pedro Miguel.

On the doors of the chambers of the Third Set of Locks

The proposed Panama Canal expansion, which will probably be the focus to date the largest construction effort in history, in relation to the implementation of its electromechanical elements.

In less than three years, will be built in different parts of the world, all the elements necessary for the future, in the span of 45 minutes, any such vessel with a draft of 50 feet, can get in and out without any difficulty of the new Panama Canal.

To achieve this, among other things, it is worth focusing on the doors of access and egress. These doors are nothing but large prismatic vessels, and higher weights in some cases to 3,000 tons. To get a clearer picture will be built in that time frame, the equivalent of three large ships "car carriers" that every day we pass under the Bridge of the Americas. The usual period for only one of these vessels is at least three years.

Once built, the door will be transported to Panama and installed in its final position within the dry dock that new lock chambers will have to do so.

This facility will be achieved by moving the door, with heights in some cases above the 30metros (equivalent to a ten-story building) on ​​rolling carts.

The most striking design is that once in operation the doors will close or open the lock chambers in just five minutes. Important to note is the fact, that this will move on rails submerged in water, which only reach the total of three thousand tons per door, just a 300 tonnes or tenth. Why? Because the doors are hollow inside, and you said that Archimedes that a body immersed….



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