In October Crowley Maritime Corp’s heavylift barge 455 4 delivered the first in a series of new gates for the Panama Canal expansion project. Crowley is scheduled to help transport all eight of the gates needed for the Pacific side lock expansion of the Canal, a project that, when coupled with the Atlantic side expansion, will double the waterway’s capacity.
The 455 4 was contracted by Sarens, a Belgium-based heavy-lift company, to transport the gates from Cristóbal, a port on the Atlantic side of the Canal, to Grupo Unidos por el Canal, SA’s (GUPC SA) construction dock, which was built to receive the gates on the canal’s Pacific side. The 105ft wide barge, currently the largest capable of transiting the Canal, was towed by Panama Canal Authority (ACP) tugs and made the transit in only one day.
Uniquely suited for the job, 455 4 is one in a series of eight high-deck-strength barges in Crowley’s fleet able to handle uniform loads up to 4,200 pounds per square foot. Three more lock gates are due to be moved during November and December. The Canal expansion project involves widening the channel and adding a third set of locks, which will consist of 16 gates and, when complete, will allow larger, post- Panamax ships to transit the canal.