Among the largest floating cranes in the world, “Titan” was built by Hitler’s Germany and claimed by the United States as war booty. Titan entered service in Panama in 1999 after having served for 50 years in Long Beach, California. The crane can be floated into the locks of the Panama Canal and is used for the heavy lifting required to maintain the doors of the locks of the canal. It can lift 350 metric tons and is one of the “strongest” cranes in the world.
Container cranes (also container handling gantry crane or ship-to-shore crane) is a type of large dockside gantry crane found at Panama Canal container terminals for loading and unloading containers from container ships.
Barely Visible – a surreal image of Centennial Bridge over Panama Canal.
The Centennial Bridge is the second major road crossing of the Panama Canal, the first being the Bridge of the Americas, built to significantly alleviate congestion on the latter on the Pan-American Highway.
The French stayed in Casco Viejo when they made their attempt to build the Panama Canal in 1881 so naturally there is French architecture with balconies reminiscent of the French Quarter of New Orleans.
From the outset, it was considered an important safety feature that ships be guided through the Panama Canal lock chambers by electric locomotives, known as mulas (mules, named after the animals traditionally used to cross the isthmus of Panama), running on the lock walls. These mules are used for side-to-side and braking control in the locks, which are narrow relative to modern-day ships. Forward motion into and through the locks is actually provided by the ship’s engines and not the mules. A ship approaching the locks first pulls up to the guide wall, which is an extension of the center wall of the locks, where it is taken under control by the mules on the wall before proceeding into the lock. As it moves forward, additional lines are taken to mules on the other wall. With large ships, there are two mules on each side at the bow, and two each side at the stern—eight in total, allowing for precise control of the ship.
The mules themselves run on rack tracks with broad gauge, 5 ft, to which they are geared. Traction is by electric power, supplied through a third rail laid below surface level on the land side. Each mule has a powerful winch, operated by the driver; these are used to take two cables in or pay them out in order to keep the ship centered in the lock while moving it from chamber to chamber.
The old canal locks can barely fit the huge container ships – they often come too close to the edge with hardly room to spare. With as little as 2 ft (60 cm) of clearance on each side of a ship, considerable skill is required on the part of the mule operators.
Once the ship is completely in the lock and gate is closed, the water level is reduced to match the other side. The other gate is then opened and the tugboats guide the ship from the Panama Canal onto open waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
The lock gates for the third set of locks (expansion) on Panama Canal basically consist of two orthotropic steel plates (skins) held apart by truss structures and plates forming the compartmented buoyancy chamber that, when submerged, reduce the operational weight carried by two rolling wagons. These steel structures, as large as 187 by 105 by 33 feet, are supported by an upper wagon, running on rails situated in the gate recess, and a lower wagon, running on rails situated in the lock chamber. The gates are opened and closed by drive systems consisting of cables, winches, and sheaves.