Unexpected problems with the new Pacific Side locks


Not the problems that have long been predicted but remain to be seen…

Leaky new Pacific Side locks

Both the Panama Canal Authority and the GUPC consortium that is building the new locks admit the problem but downplay its importance. The ACP says that all “imperfections” that are detected “should be repaired.” So far, however, the public has not received a coherent explanation of why there are leaks in a gate sill of the new Pacific Side locks.

Canal pilots and tugboat captains have for years warned that the combination of cross-currents caused by the locks’ design and prop wash from tugs inside the locks chambers are likely to buffet ships around when they are in the chambers, especially when it’s windy. If that becomes a problem there have been various fixes discussed. But we won’t know if it will be a problem until the locks are working.

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the leak in the chamber wall. Actually, it is in one of the sills at the bottom of the connection between two chambers, on which the sliding gates roll.


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