Length of about 80 km, the Panama canal passes through the city of colon on the Atlantic coast and the artificial lake Gatun, on the Pacific coast. With the canal the sea route from San Francisco to new York is 26 000 km was to be only 10 000 km, the water Level in the Atlantic of only 24 cm lower than the Pacific ocean. However, because of the rugged mountainous landscape courts have to pass on your way 3 locks to rise up to 26 meters to the level of lake Gatun.
The channel is wide enough that ships could move towards each other with almost no delay. The dimensions of the gateways limit the parameters of vessels that can pass through the channel, and sailors these figures are known as “Panamax”. Ships must be no more than 294 m long and 32 m wide, to meet the ships type “Panamax”. Also they should have a draught of not more than 12 m.
Since the Panama canal opened in 1914, recorded more than a million ships have passed through it – of which 14 000 only for 2005 the Owners of the Panama canal will receive payment for all passing him on the court. When in 2000 the U.S. gave Panama control over the canal, the responsibility for maintaining it in good condition rests on the shoulders of the state of Panama. Fees depending on the size of the ship and the weight of its load up to an average of $ 2 billion per year.
However, already for anybody not a secret that the channel capacity does not satisfy the needs of modern navigation. Not only increased the number of vessels sailing from the us to Asia and back has increased and their sizes. The sizes of the ships, the so-called postpanamax class, do not allow them to pass through the channel. Therefore, it is planned to upgrade the canal by 2014