8 narrow channels of vital importance


The Panama Canal is 50 miles long and links the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans with over 13,000 vessel transits per annum (+ 195 million tons of cargo each year), each taking about 23 hours of CWT (Canal Water time), to climb from sea level (through 3 series of locks), 26 metres up to Gatun Lake and then down again to sea level through 3 more series of locks.

As part of the Panama Canal Treaty (1977), the United States of America turned over control of the Canal Zone to the Republic of Panama, and the hand over took place on 31 December 1999, at which point all U.S. troops guarding the Canal Zone were withdrawn. Panama replaced the American P.C.C. (Panama Canal Commission) with a new body, the P.C.A. (Panama Canal Authority).
The locks needed to raise and lower vessels are the main limiting factor to the size of vessel able to transit the Panama Canal and at present the Miraflores Lock System (being 33.5m wide X 300m long X 12.6m deep) precludes larger vessels transiting the canal. The Canal earns Panama about US$ 500m per annum in fees. CLICK HERE to see 2 live webcams of the Canal locks.

A vessel sailing through the Galliard Cut, (mid-canal).

Vessel leaving the Pedro Miguel Lock system

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