In the Honcho's home port of Long Beach we are accustomed to seeing very large container ships in the harbor. Those ships are too large to transit the canal, and the trend is toward more of these larger vessels. The Panama Canal Authority recognized the need to expand the canal's capacity to accommodate these ships, thus the new enlarged locks, which I believe are scheduled to be opened in 2014.
|Northbound ship moving out of the lower locks at Miraflores|
Here are some interesting stats:
Containers are essentially tractor trailer bodies. They come in a variety of sizes, but are measured in "twenty foot equivalents" (TEU).
The largest container ships currently in service can carry more than 15,000 TEU.
The current locks can handle ships of up to 5,000 TEU capacity (965 feet long, 106 feet wide).
The new canal locks will handle ships of up to 12,000 TEU capacity (1,200 feet long, 160 feet wide).
The busiest container port in the world is Singapore.
Seven of the top ten busiest container ports in the world are located in China.
Los Angeles and Long Beach are ranked 16th and 18th respectively.
The top three US ports (L.A., Long Beach, New York) combined handled approximately 16,500,000 TEU in 2009. Shanghai alone handled 25,000,000 TEU in the same period.
Surprised? I was too.
|45 foot cruising catamaran transiting the lower locks at Miraflores|