The operation of the expanded Panama Canal

The feature displayed at this post is a computerized scenario of Panamax cargo vessels as long as three American football fields and as wide as the largest cargo vessels made today transiting from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean or vices -a-versa.

As these vessels proceed through the locks, as many as six pilot boats will be needed for each cargo vessel under its own power, whereas the replaced system required railroad engines parallel to the vessel to pull each cargo vessel through the locks without damage to the side walls.

The entire system is carefully controlled by a bank of computers, sophisticated video monitors, and control systems to keep each vessel from hitting the sidewalks, some, inches away from the widest beam of the largest vessel.

Over 100 years ago, American companies completed the original Panama Canal after the French gave up its franchise as a result of the deaths of thousands of workers who succumbed to the bites of a particular mosquito.  President Theodore Roosevelt completed the Panama Canal from 1904 to 1914 through the intelligence, skill, and hard work of three men, whom I have denominated the three “G’s”.

Gen. George Goetthals of the Army Corps of Engineers, who superintended the project; Dr. William Crawford Gorgas, who discovered the particular mosquito whose bite caused dengue and yellow fever and then eradicated the deadly diseases through comprehensive sanitation procedures such as the removal of standing water and other breeding grounds for the insect; and finally, Col. David Gaillard, who superintended the most difficult work on the project.  Gaillard’s task was to blast through a mountain eight miles wide using dynamite to create the vital Culebra Cut. The Cut was originally known as the Gaillard Cut.

Gaillard’s work was so arduous, it literally broke down  his health, leaving him completely incapacitated.   Not only was Gaillard unable to see the completion of the work, he was confined to Walter Reed Hospital in the nation’s capital when the work of the Canal was finally completed in 1914. He died soon thereafter. For my money, Gaillard’s name should be restored to its identification with the Cut  He deserves it.  For those of you who have read my book,”Florida’s Big Dig,” you will recall that David was a cousin of Henry Gaillard, one the four incorporators of the private Florida canal company that built what would become the Intracoastal Waterway from 1881 until 1912.

Enjoy this well-made video of the operating of the new Panama Canal when complete.



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