Monday, January 2, 2017

Canal Dimensions

I can't remember how the different canals compare in size to each other, so I'm pulling together the facts in one place.

Original (1914) Panama Canal


Locks are 1000' x 110' x 42' and can accommodate Panamax Ships of 965' x 106' x 39.5' and have a maximum container cargo of 4400 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units). 52 million gallons are lost to the sea per transit. [Panama Canal Museum] Other sources claim 5000 TEUs.

New ($5 billion 2016) Channel and Locks in Panama Canal


Locks are 1400' x 180' x 60' and can accommodate Post Panamax Ships of 1200' x 160' x 50' and have a max cargo of 12600 TEUs. 60% of the water is recycled so less is lost to the sea than the old locks. [Panama Canal Museum] Other sources claim 14000 TEUs.

200' is lost in the length because the ships are moved through with tugs rather than the "mules" used along the side of the old locks.

St. Lawrence Seaway, 1959


Vessel maximum: 740' x 78' x 26.5'  with a limit above the water of 116.5'. [Seaway Facts]  No wonder I read that ships transload to bigger salt water ships at Montreal because that vessel size is tiny even by Panamax standards. (G3 Marquis is 226 (741.47 ft) long [Great Lakes Business])

Welland Canal

   It was built in 1932. I wonder what limits the St. Lawrence Seaway to a length of 740'.

Soo Canal

  • MacArthur Lock, 1943: 800' x 80' x 29.5'; this can handle salties, but not Lakers (Video from David Kaye)
  • Poe Lock, 1896: 800' x 100'
  • Poe Lock Rebuilt, 1968: 1200' x 110' x 32', this is the one the lakers must use. That length and width can also handle a 15-barge tow. But I suspect barges can't risk being on a Great Lake if a storm hits.
  • Davis lock, 1914: 1350' x 80' x 23.1'; light freighters, tour boats, and small craft when traffic warrants
  • Sabin Lock, 1919: same as Davis but it has been "mothballed."
Canada has a small lock that is used for tour and recreational boats.

Since 1986, the Davis and Sabin Locks are supposed to be replaced by one lock that is big enough to handle lakers. They broke ground on June 30, 2009. But it hasn't been funded. See Soo Locks for updates concerning the replacement plan.

Suez Canal. 19th Century and 2015


The canal has no locks so there is effectively no length limitation. Suezmax as of 2009 allows a beam of 164' and a depth of 66'. The depth of the canal has been deepened a few times. "A typical Suezmax vessel would be 275 m (900 ft) in length, 48 m (157 ft) in width, and 16.2 m (53 ft) in draught corresponding to about 150,000 DWT." [suezmax]

Since a lot of Eastern US ports need to be deepened to handle Post Panamax ships, they would not be able to handle Suezmax. (They might be able to handle bigger tankers by mooring them offshore and running a pipeline out to them.) But the one-way usage of a 120-mile canal has serious throughput issues. So in 2015 a $4 billion dollar parallel lane was finished to accommodate two-way traffic on much of its length. I assume that the second lane will also provide a contingency if a disaster of some sort would block one of the lanes.

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