More Panama canal facts

I recently saw a documentary about the Panama Canal at youtube. I think it was produced by National Geographic, so if you are interested to watch it you can look it up. Anyway, the documentary pictured one day of work at the Panama Canal. You got to see how the vessels transit from the Atlantic to the Pacific and vice versa, and it was really interesting to see.

The big ships must have at least one pilot on board when they enter the Panama Canal, and some ships are piloted by tugboats on their way between the locks. The Panama Canal has six lock chambers in total, three at each side. Between them the ships sails through the Gatun Lake and a small river passage called Calebra Cut.

In the documentary I learned more about how much work it takes to manage the canal. For example do they need to regularly dredge the canal to remove soil and rocks that are raging down when the earths continental plates are moving. And sometimes they also need to do maintenance that are very tricky, and to their help they have special built machines.

At the Panama Canal Companys website I learned that 1 015 721 ships had transit the Panama Canal in the years between the opening in 1914 and to the end of 2011. The Fortune Plum became ship number one million passing through the canal and made headlines over the world.

In the history of the Panama Canal strange boats and objects have passed, for example submarines and even a swimmer! The cost to pass the canal depends on the size of the boat or ship. Large ships also pays an extra fee per TEU they carry. You can read more about what TEU is here. And if you are interested in the toll fee you can visit the Panama Canal website to get updated information.

At the website you can also get more information about the inauguration of the new canal in Panama that was inaugurated june 26th. Now I can tell you which vessel that made the first transit through the new waterway! The ship was Cosco Shipping Panama, formerly known as Andronikos. She is a newly built container ship sailing under the flag of Marshal Islands. She is 300 metres long and 48,5 metres broad, which means that it will be really tight to pass thorugh the new canal which is only 49 metres broad! She is now heading towards Korea and sails outside the coast of California. You can see a video clip from the maiden voyage through the canal below:

I wish that I could have been there during the inauguration! I also wish that I some day can afford a cruise through the canal. If I ever win big at casino I will make this dream come true! Perhaps I should try the jackpot slots that this site recommends!

Today The Suez Canal is the greatest competitor to the Panama Canal, but in the future they might get more competition since Nicaragua plans to build an own canal. A canal in Nicaragua has been an impossible dream to fulfill for a very long time, but now it seems that it can become a reality in just a couple of years with the help from a chinese investor. The project will be extremly costly though, I have read that it will cost approximately 450 billion swedish crowns to construct the Nicaragua Canal that will be over 270 km long.

The Panama Canal is not too worried about the competition. They think the Nicaragua project is so expensive that they wont be able to offer competitive tolls.

Another possible threat to the Panama Canal profit is the climate change. Some scientist believe that parts of the arctic ice will melt and make the Arctic Ocean a possible fairway. This wont happen in the near future, but who knows if it´s possible in 20-30 years from now?