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Panama Canal Authority Prepares Tugboat Captains Project Nearing Three- Quarters Complete

Captains of the Panama Canal Dredging Division and Tugboat department were among the operators who helped redesign the ACP training program. As part of the preparations for the expanded Panama Canal, the Board of Inspectors of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has certified 12 new tugboat captains, who recently completed the training.

This is the fourth group in the program, which started in 2008 and has certified 47 tugboat captains. ACP said this represents 50 percent of the goal set to meet the demand for the efficient and safe transit of vessels through the new locks of the Panama Canal.

Every six months, the program will certify an average of 10 new tugboat captains, until 83 captains have been certified. Vessels transiting through the new locks of the Panama Canal will only require the assistance of tugboats, unlike the current locks, which require the use of locomotives.

The Panama Canal Expansion Program passed another significant milestone in August, at 64 percent complete, the first four gates for the new locks arrived to the waterway’s Atlantic side.

The new locks of the expanded Panama Canal have a total of 16 rolling gates (eight for each new lock complex). The construction of the new locks includes the use of reinforced steel, a technology which did not exist during the construction of the current Panama Canal. Completing both new lock complexes will require a total of 4.3 million cubic meters of concrete. Unlike the current Canal, which uses miter gates, the expanded Canal will have steel rolling gates.

The Panama Canal Expansion involves the construction of a third lane of traffic allowing the passage of Post-Panamax vessels, which will double the Canal’s capacity and have an important impact in world maritime trade.

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