The Canal expansion is already a reality. After nine years of efforts and tireless work, accompanied by high and low, the Panama Canal opened yesterday, June 26, the expanded channel work full of pride to many Panamanians and up is considered one of the modern wonders built by the man. In our article today, we’ll tell you about what happened in the important opening of the Expanded Canal.



Canal Expansion – Gogetit Highlights

  • The Canal Expansion consists of locks that are 70 feet wide over the current, and are 18 feet deep. The Canal expansion recycles 60% of water used for each lockage.
  • The Chinese neopanamax ship Cosco Shipping Panama, had the historic mission to test the majestic work on its opening day. The operation of Cosco Shipping Panama, involved over 140 workers in the ACP, including two women.
  • Around 1.400 journalists from different parts of the world, spread first hand information and more than 60 international high-level delegations, witnessed the inauguration of the Canal Expansion.

Last Sunday, June 26th, was a long-awaited date for all Panamanians: This would be the day that would take place the opening of the Canal Expansion, a work that began construction nine years ago, and now seeks, among other things, to become a new transit route for an ambitious plan to reconvert  Panama in the logistics center of the Americas.

Preparations for the celebration began from approximately at 1:00 am, since workers hired by the Panama Canal Authority, prepared thousands of hamburgers and soft drinks for thousands of Panamanians who came to Agua Clara. Attendees covered the sun and rain with umbrella with the distinctive colors of the national flag. Most of them, were recording with their cellphones the historical scenes of the event. Tour operators organized sightseeing tours in advance to participate in holiday events. Fortunately, the rain did not stop the cheer, the joy and the Panamanian pride, were made to feel at this important inauguration of the  Panama Canal Expansion.

The journey begins

Since before 7:00 a.m., the neopanamax was charging to approach the walls of the new lock of Agua Clara, located in Colón. Thirty minutes later, began the historic lockage. The ship remained motionless patient in the lower lock chamber for about an hour, while thousands of people attending the ceremony announced in Colón, sang the National Anthem. Just after that, the Canal Authority and the President Juan Carlos Varela, boarded the ship to give recognition to the captain of the boat, Jude Rodrigues, whose family was live from Bombay, India, joining his celebrated history.

It was at 7:30 a.m., when the Chinese boat Cosco Shipping Panama, began its entry into the expanded Canal, through the lock in Agua Clara. Starting early morning, thousands of Panamanians came dressed in the national colors in a party atmosphere.

The initial acts, included an exchange of gifts between the captain of Cosco Shipping Panama, Jude Rodrigues, Canal Administrator, Jorge Quijano and President Juan Carlos Varela. Quijano handed Rodrigues two commemorative plaques of enlargement and a gold 24K with the number 88, while Varela gave a miniature replica of Cosco Shipping Panama. Then, was held a minute of silence to remember the eight workers who died during construction of the third set of locks. Similarly, was held the ecumenical blessing for all faiths and for all Panamanians.

Cosco Shipping Panama began its journey in the locks of Agua Clara, in Colón, at 7:30 a.m., and arrived nine hours later, at 4:30 p.m., at Cocoli. Since the start in the Atlantic until the end of travel in the Pacific, neopanamax created a party atmosphere for thousand people.

Once the ship began its journey, an artistic spectacle staged with the performing of more than 250 artists. The protocol acts in Agua Clara lasted about four hours.


The assistants

Thousands of Panamanians gathered from early morning to witness this long-awaited opening of the Expanded Canal. Never lacked the atmosphere of celebration, excitement and, above all, the feeling of pride in this work.

The opening event of the Canal expansion, was attended by the presidents of Chile, Michelle Bachelet; Costa Rica, Luis Guillermo Solis; Honduras, Juan Orlando Hernández; Paraguay, Horacio Cartes; Dominican Republic, Danilo Medina; Kosovo, Hashim Tashi; and Taiwan, Tsai Ingwen.

In addition, was the Emeritus king of Spain, Juan Carlos I, the prime ministers of Portugal, Antonio Costa; Barbados, Freundel Stuart; Curacao, Bernard Denzil; and Jamaica, Andrew Holness, as well as the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority, Hussein Mohab Mamish.

The notable absentees were President Barack Obama and former president of that country, James Carter, signing of the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, which allowed the reversion of the Canal to Panamanian hands. By US attended Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.

The celebration

In Cocolí (Pacific area) fireworks and an excited crowd greeted the end of the afternoon and the passage of the ship, loaded with 9,400 containers. This ship was released last June 11 in Piraeus, Greece. Thousands of Panamanian flags, were waving in the hands of proud citizens, received the Cosco Shipping Panama, and full-throated singing the National Anthem. At the end, you can heard the crowd screaming: Viva Panama! and tricolor balloons were released.

There is no doubt that the opening of the Panama Canal Expansion, is a day that will remain in the memory of many, and will reaffirm pride in being Panamanian.

In Figures

The mega-project of the Panama Canal Expansion, which opened yesterday, had a budget of 5,250 million dollars.

The ship Cosco Shipping, has 48.25 meters wide and 299.98 meters long and a maximum capacity of 9,400 containers.

It is estimated that neopanamax ships transiting the Expanded Canal, can carry up to 13,000 containers.

The Panama Canal expansion already has 160 reservations vessels wishing to use the new structures, including one carrying liquefied gas, whereby opens a new line of users who previously could not use the road due to its huge side.


Silvia Merida Pellicer
Gogetit Content Manager. Author of important reviews for Gogetit News, “The #1 Source for real estate news in Panama.”
Specialized in the search and analysis of the most important news about real estate in Panama.