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Panama Canal - locks

Everything you need to know.



1/2 day tour of the canal
Miraflores locks

The Panama Canal is a man-made waterway that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It stretches around 82 km through Panama and allows ships to avoid the long journey around South America's Cape Horn.


The canal plays an important role in international trade and is of great importance for shipping traffic. It was opened in 1914 and has been an important passage for ships from all over the world ever since


3 locks allow quick passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific or vice versa. A journey takes between 8 and 10 hours depending on traffic. Depending on the gross registered tons, the costs are between USD 300,000 and USD 1.2 million per passage.


The Panama Canal has a lock system that allows ships to pass through the canal.


These locks are essential for raising and lowering ships traveling between different water levels. There are three sets of locks in the Panama Canal: the Miraflores Lock, the Pedro Miguel Lock and the Gatun Lock.


The Miraflores Locks are located on the Pacific side of the canal and consist of two chambers. They raise or lower ships a total of 54 feet (16.5 meters) to adjust to the water level of Lake Miraflores.


The Pedro Miguel Locks, also on the Pacific side, feature a single chamber that raises or lowers ships 31 feet (9.5 meters) to adjust to the water level of Lake Gatun.


The Gatun Locks are located on the Atlantic side and consist of three chambers. They raise or lower ships a total of 85 feet (26 meters) to adjust them to sea level when leaving or the water level of Lake Gatun when entering.


New locks in Colon Agua Clara
Agua Clara locks

These locks use a combination of gravity and water flow to move ships through the canal. When a ship enters a lock chamber, the gates close and water is either released or filled to raise or lower the ship to the next water level. As soon as the water level is equalized, the front gates open and the ship can continue its journey through the canal.


The Panama Canal lock system is a remarkable engineering achievement and a critical part of canal operations, ensuring the safe and efficient transit of ships between the Atlantic and Pacific.



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