American Shipper

Panama Canal celebrates 90 years

Panama Canal celebrates 90 years

   On Aug. 15, 1914, the 'SS Ancon' made history as the first vessel to cross the Isthmus of Panama via the Panama Canal, traveling from the Atlantic entrance to the canal at the port of Cristobal to the Pacific entrance at the port of Balboa.

   Since 1914, more than 880,000 ships have transited the waterway — 11,725 in 2003, and about 35 a day in 2004. The Panama Canal Authority, an autonomous agency of the government of Panama, has managed the canal for the last four years.

   'We remember the past. So many people gave their lives for this noble cause. We look forward to the next 90 years; great things are yet to come,' said the current canal administrator, Alberto Aleman Zubieta, noting the growing importance of the canal in all-water routes from Asia to the East Coast of the U.S.

   The canal has recently undertaken projects to widen the Gaillard Cut, deepen Gatun Lake, modernize its locomotive fleet, and implement an electronic system to send and receive data to and from vessels planning to transit the canal.