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Trial phase begins on new Panama Canal locks

Trial phase begins on new Panama Canal locks
Grupo Unidos por el Canal (GUPC), the consortium in charge of the design and construction of the third set of locks has announced it had begun the trial phase of all systems at the project.

The trial phase includes the locks, valves, electricity and control checks.

“We are going through an intense phase of both technical and functioning trials. More than 2,000 technical trials are conducted at both the Atlantic and Pacific sectors, where we are already operating several systems from the main control tower”, informed José Pelaez, project manager for GUPC.

GUPC consortium comprises Sacyr of Spain, Salini - Impregilo of Italy, Jan De Nul of Belgium and Constructora Urbana, SA (CUSA) of Panama.

The machinery building located at the expansion waterway, are almost finished, leaving smalls details to be completed, and mainly the integration of all electric and hydraulic-mechanical component, with the control building.

Moreover, the technical trials will spread over two months nonstop, before we move to the navigation trial, expected to begin at the end of May. Currently, this new waterway has achieved almost all major requirements demanded by the customer as they are, the time stipulated for opening and closing the gates, the times to fill the locks, seals capabilities and the water saving basins, said GUPC in a statement.

The fleet of tugs of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has 46 units to assist the transit of ships and four to attend dredging operations. The transit fleet, has 37 tugboats in the active fleet, of which 23 operate regularly supporting the transit of ships through the Panama Canal. To this fleet it will provide scheduled maintenance or planned, as well as those corrective maintenance or repairs for damage that may occur during operation.

Additionally, nine tugs are kept in the reserve fleet, and anticipating the next start of operations of the third set of locks, this situation is used to maintain and do remedial work required so that the fleet is available. The ACP has invested since 2000 to date some $372.8m for the acquisition of new tugs for replacement and addition of equipment to the fleet.

According to the ACP the expansion programme is 96% complete.

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