Friday, September 12, 2014

Will the Bigger Panama Canal Eliminate the Land-Bridge Traffic?

Steven J. Brown posted
Cosco Sakura (Hong Kong - built 2018) is moving from the first chamber to the second (of three) at the new Agua Clara Locks (opened 2016). The locks are part of the Panama Canal expansion project to handle more and larger ships. These are the last set of locks for the ships transit through the canal on its journey from Korea to New York - November 19, 2021.
Bagus Widyanto: I wonder if the Nimitz class carriers could pass through?

Time-lapse video of the expansion. I recommend viewing it full-screen.

Update: has a more interesting posting about the canal expansion because it has pictures and video references. I found the container loading video to be particularly interesting. I couldn't help but wonder what happens on a windy day with those long cable reaches. The construction was supposed to be completed in 2014. But oil-electric reports that overall progress is 78% and the new locks project is 73%. The current estimate is that it will open late 2015.

Old School Pictures posted
The panama canal in 1913.

Charles Gilbert Wright comment on SupplHi's posting
[The Chinese-owned container ship, Cosco Shipping Panama, became the first ship through the expansion on June 26, 2016. You can see the use of a tug in the lock with the ship rather than "mules" on rails alongside the lock to pull the ship through the locks.]

Because most container ships are currently too large to go through the Panama Canal, the notion of a "land bridge" has been developed. Specifically, the ships are unloaded at West Coast ports and the Union Pacific and BNSF compete to haul the containers to the Chicago area. And then Norfolk Southern and CSXT compete for the business to the East Coast cities. Shippers are experiencing delays because the railroads have not been able to keep up with the growth of traffic. For example, the increased oil shipments from North Dakota has disrupted intermodal and grain shipments.

But the railroads may not have to build anything to relieve the congestion because they may loose the land-bridge traffic when the larger Panama Canal opens. I've seen predictions that the Southern California ports will loose 30% of their business when the large container ships can go directly to the East Coast ports. The larger ships are 235 feet longer and 54 feet wider then the current Panamax class ships (600x110) and can carry 12,000 20-foot Equivalent Units (TEU) vs. 5,000 for a Panamax ship. And they require a port depth of 50 feet. Update: Popular Mechanics states that the new reinforced-concrete lock chambers will be 1400 ft. long, 180 ft. wide and 60 ft. deep. The reason why the ships are significantly smaller than the locks is that two tugboats are used to maneuver the ships rather than mules. But the article indicates the ships will be 1200-feet long, not 600+235=835 feet. It agrees with the figures of 12,000 vs. 5,000.

The East Coast ports are doing construction to accommodate the larger ships. Some ports are increasing the port depth from 42 feet to 50 feet. The Bayonne Bridge got rid of its old roadway under the arch in 2017, and it is supposed to be done in 2019. [DeBruler]

If the Panama Canal sets the rates too high, then all of the East Coast construction is for naught. If they are low enough, then the improvements the West Coast and railroads are finally doing will be a waste. It is too bad a new canal had to be built before the West Coast ports and railroads would bother to figure out how to reduce their rates.

Update: The eastern ports have not upgraded yet for the bigger ships, so the railroads may still have land-bridge container traffic for a while longer.
From the comments on a Facebook posting and my study of the Maumee River grain elevators, I learned the dimensions of a max St. Lawrence Seaway ship is 740 x 78 x 26.6. James Nobbe provided TEU numbers:
You can get an 8000 TEU into Montreal. West of there, a 2500 TEU tramp is biggest (aka Seaway Max). Biggest drawback is Seaway is seasonal. Lots of folks studying marine "container trains" to various inland ports. Idea is for 1250 to 5000 TEU (or larger) barges to handle containers inland.

From HellenicsShippingNews, Sept. 9, 2016:
The first ship transited the newly expanded canal on June 26. .... Right now, only Baltimore, Norfolk and Miami have channels deep enough to accommodate these ships. The first of these behemoth vessels, the Ever Lambent, called on Baltimore this July.
Evidently Illinois politicians do not have a monopoly on stupidity. I assume it took big bucks to dredge the port to 50 feet and install super-Panamax cranes, but they still have not got funding to raise the height of the Howard Street Tunnel by 18 inches so that double-stack container trains can be run to the port. And it will take four more years to fix the tunnel after they get funding. (Update: as of Nov 2019, the funding is committed to expand the Howard Street Tunnel and raise 22 bridges between Baltimore and Philiadelphia. [DeBruler]) I wonder how raising the bridge for the New Jersey and New York ports is coming.

From a video of the history of the original canal brought to you by Bucyrus. (Evidently, Bucyrus-Erie is one of the many big equipment companies that has been swallowed up by Caterpillar.)

Mike Breski shared
Construction of the steel gates of Gatun Lock, Panama Canal, circa 1912.

Joe Dockrill posted
Panama Canal

Historic Photographs posted
A worker standing in one of the canal locks of the Panama Canal. Circa 1912.
The construction of Panama Canal in rare pictures, 1881-1914

MilitaryPhotoDepot posted
USS Arizona BB-39 in lock, Panama Canal circa 1921..USN Image
Bill McKinley: looks like she's in the the Pedro Miguel locks heading for the Atlantic side..
Jim Cross: Pedro Miguel locks headed Northwest to the Atlantic. [But the entrance to the Atlantic is southeast of the locks.]
Rick Peacock: The trains are being replaced soon.
Joseph Skatoff: Still better than the real mules that were first used.
Gary Fleeger: Joseph Skatoff Real mules were never used. In 1914, to operate on the Panama Canal, 40 mules were built by GE. #662 is one the mules, named after the pack animals. Mules were used for side-to-side and braking control through the locks. Four mules were used per ship, one on each side and one on each end.
[Some comments establish that we are looking at the stern because the Arizona had two turrets on both ends.]
Randall Wynn Pelfrey: I read a story about the Arizona when she was in New York an pulled out headed to the West Coast an some one in the crew smuggled a hooker onboard an stashed her an a officer found her an they put her off in Panama to be shipped back to NYC , I don’t know where I read it at or when I did
Joe Vandenberg
Randall Wynn Pelfrey She has her own Wiki page! Much more information:
[The comments provide several more photos of the battleship]
MilitaryPhotoDepot posted
(4/27/1984) A view of the forward 16-inch guns aboard the battleship USS NEW JERSEY (BB 62). The NEW JERSEY is entering the lower level of the Mira Flores Locks as it transit the canal Camera Operator: PH1 Carolyn Harris
Pasquale Cosenza: USS New Jersey’s presence was required off Lebanon until April 3, 1984, when she finally left for home. She made port calls in Italy and France, crossed the Panama Canal, and arrived at Long Beach on May 5. What was scheduled to be a three-and-a-half-month deployment had turned out to be an eleven-month deployment, the longest deployment of any Navy ship since World War II.
Ronald Churchill: Iowa bb 61 , new Jersey bb 62 , Missouri bb 63 , Wisconsin bb 64 .
[Some comments indicate that there was 9" on each side. The first thing they did after going through the canal was put sailors over the sides to repaint the scrapes. These were designed to fit the 110' wide canal.]
Bruce Belt: My dad was on the NJ for 3 yrs during the Korean war, I grew up listening to all the great stories. When I was stationed in Ft Irwin CA in the early 90s my parents came to visit. I found out that both the Big J and Mighty Mo were based out of Long Beach, and that they would both be in port during the visit. So while headed to Monterey we took a surprise detour that day. When I pulled up into the mostly empty parking lot the two great ships were sitting next to each other. My dad looked up and said That's the Missouri!! I said look whats next to her, he hadn't seen her since the war, 30 yrs, and instantly got emotional. We walked over to the pier and while he quickly wiped away some tears, asked do you think we could get on her? To which I replied, today is open house, they're waiting on us. Off we went, up the gangplank as my dad snapped off a salute to the fantail. We were greeted by a young sailor at the reception area who immediately realized dad was a vet (I made him wear his BB62 hat) and asked what division he was in. Dad said B division, to which he replied I guess you want to see Broadway and dad said sure. The sailor then said let think the best way to get there, and dad started to tell him, and he said, how about if I just follow you, and off we went. It was a great day!

Carlos Ferran posted
Posted from a Panamanian group about a half an hour ago [June 23, 2020], the Panama Canal Railway mainline is effectively shutdown at Gamboa. I cant imagine how deep in trouble those people are in.
Chuck Withers Is that KCS?Chris Hennebry Chuck Withers the KCS owns it.

Carlos Ferran commented on his post
Another angle of the damage.
Jimmy Barlow Note that there's a roadway beside the rr track; 2 men standing on it at lower left.

Jimmy Barlow It appears that this bridge doesn't even have any provision for clearing a ship. And if that's true, the Bluebill had to have been either disabled or insanely off course. (Assuming of course that it wasn't intentional in some way.)
Michael T. Burkhart The bridge spans the Chagres River, not the canal itself. The road was closed a few years ago when a new highway span was built just to the east.

Aaron Byrant shared
Dennis DeBruler,-79.../data=!3m1!1e3

Jim Taylor posted three photos with the comment: "This is the largest containership transitting the Panama Canal (CMA CGM Argentina) this morning 1200'+ x 167.1'x 50' draft, unable to visit the Mississippi River due to draft considerations (same size as the Ever Given..recently grounded in Suez) Lot of dredging necessary for these ships to make New Orleans a stop."
Timothy David Kass: I think they have plans to build a new dock in Chalmette for container ships.
Jim Taylor: Timothy David Kass they need 55' in southwest pass for these big mamou's.
The Panama Canal expansion was happening 15 yrs. snooze you lose, Savannah, Norfolk and New York are this bigguns regular port visits, MRGO closed meant losing our piddly little container terminal that Houston gladly scooped up, Barbours Cut



Steven J. Brown posted
LPG Tanker Matterhorn Explorer (Liberia - built 2019) en route from Texas to Equador is entering the first lock on the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal, Gatun Locks. Overhead is the Chinese designed, French built Puente Atlántico (Atlantic Bridge) which opened in 2019. Colon, Panama - November 19, 2021.

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