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Panama Canal expansion opens June 26

The Panama Canal Expansion will be officially inaugurated on Sunday, June 26, 2016.

The announcement was made this week during the inauguration ceremony of the canal’s high tech Scale Model Maneuvering Training Facility, which will provide additional hands-on experience to pilots and tugboat captains to operate in the expanded Panama Canal.

The president of Panama, Juan Carlos Verela, was in attendance at the inauguration ceremony, along with the Panama Canal Board of Directors Chairman, Roberto Roy, and other distinguished members of the Board.

"The Scale Model Training Facility will allow us to continue providing world-class service to the global maritime industry, while guaranteeing safe and efficient transits through the soon-to-be inaugurated Expanded Canal," said Administrator Jorge L. Quijano. "The dream of expansion will become a reality when we inaugurate the biggest infrastructure project in the history of the Canal and the country of Panama."

The innovative 35.3-acre training facility features two lakes connected by a channel modeled after the canal’s Culebra Cut. The new facility features docking bays, replicas of the new and existing locks, gates, and chambers, all at a 1:25 scale.

The facility features a number of scale model Panama Canal tugboats, as well as ships built in

Photo credit: Panama Canal Authority

France at Port Revel, including bulk carriers modeled after the Nord Delphinus, and a container ship modeled after the Maersk Edinburgh. In addition, a liquid natural gas ship will be delivered by September 2016.

The facility features wave and wind generators to provide a realistic, hands-on training experience for Canal pilots and tugboat captains to prepare them for the opening of the expanded waterway. It complements the training already provided at the Center of Simulation, Research and Maritime Development through immersive, 360-degree training simulations and courses.

The expansion program is currently 97 percent complete. Final testing will be conducted in the following weeks, leading up to the official inauguration.

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