You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Panama Canal’ tag.

Our pilot identified Titan, located in Gamboa,  as “Herman the German.”  Any idea why?

She’s a floating crane, docked along the Canal but still in service.  She was one of four built in Germany for the Kriegsmarine in 1941.  From 1946 until 1994, she worked in Long Beach as YD-171.  And in 1997 she was moved to the Panama Canal.  According to this technical site (with good photos) she has lifting capacity of 350 tons.

Near the Balboa train station  I saw Bucyrus steam railway crane, No. 64, one of the originals from the 100+ year ago construction.

I took this photo from a bus while passing land side of the Balboa container port.


At several of the locks, Ohio cranes stand at the ready.  Maintenance on gates and valves is performed while traffic is passing; hence the crane on the lock.

All photos by Will Van Dorp.

Tugster robots have done most of the work around here the past week and a half as I’ve transited a continent, in the skinniest possible location, starting from old Fort Sherman . . . past the Toro Point Light

hightailing past some toothy denizens

and fuel boats and

avoiding treacherous reefs of Limon Bay

to rise up across the continental divide

past the signs and

cut through that divide and under the 100 years’ bridge

and down to Pacific level.  This shot shows the entrance to the Miraflores locks to the right and the the new Cocoli locks to the left.

Turning Pacificward, that’s the islands of (l to r) Tabogilla and Taboga, where Gauguin recuperated.

We anchored in a bay just off the Flamenco Island signal station.

All photos by Will Van Dorp, who has hundreds more covering the transit and gallivants at either end.  By the way, the first ship I saw at Gatun was NYK Daedalus, a sixth boro regular.


The tow–Lauren Foss and the crane–is captured in Gatun Lake by MS Europa‘s webcam.


A few hours later, she arrives at the Gatun Locks, which will lower her to Atlantic/Caribbean levels.    Vessel nearer is ARC Endurance.  Click here to see ARC Endurance in the sixth boro a bit over a year ago.



Vessel in the distance is MSC Carmen.


For truly remarkable photos of the tow traversing the Canal, click here to see gCaptain’s fine work.

With friendly seas, the tow should be arriving at the Narrows at end January/beginning February.

I feel blessed.  Something told me to check Panama Canal AIS for Balder Atlantic bound.  I noticed her Pacific bound instead . . . possibly loaded with Colombian coal for an Andes port.  I  also noticed she was approaching Miraflores locks–see my shots from March 2012 here–at that moment.  Thanks to the efforts of bowsprite and Elizabeth on my behalf, here’s Balder‘s transit through Miraflores.     Finally, why Balder . . ?  Check here and here for origins of my interest.

16:45 . . .












Many thanks to bowsprite and Elizabeth for the screenshots.  Bon voyage Balder . . . now beyond archipelago de las perlas .  . .

The newly named Patrice McAllister, sixth boro bound, experienced a fire near Kingston, Ontario.  For the story, see boatnerd here.   The Shipwatcher has the story here.  Bowditch, ex-Hot Dog and here the rescue tug, was featured on tugster here back in 2010;  see second foto from the end.

Several thousand miles south, Harding is an older tug still in use in the Panama Canal named for Chester Harding, not Warren G.

Foto taken almost 25 years ago from aboard sugar bulker Sugar Island, northbound in the Panama Canal.   Being a sugar-dedicated bulk carrier would make this one sweet vessel.

Top foto from USCG via boatnerd;  next two thanks to Allen Baker.

I’ve now also added Ship Watcher to my blogroll.

Also, check out photosbytomandpolly, who shoot from not far away along the western end of the St Lawrence Seaway.

So here’s the question . . . two locks, almost 3000 miles apart, Miraflores Esclusas in the Panama Canal and Poe Lock in the Soo. . . each recently traversed by a large vessel,

CSAV Suape in

the Panama, and then

Mesabi Miner in the Poe.

Question . . . without looking it up, which of the two vessels is larger . . . CSAV Suape or Mesabi Miner?

And let the record show that I would have gotten it wrong, but although their beams are the same,  Mesabi Miner is 39′ longer than CSAV Suape!  Mesabi is named for the mountain range it is involved in hauling away.

Here’s more info on the Soo.  Mesabi Miner fotos come thanks to Ken of Michigan Exposures, where more Mesabi fotos are available here and here.

Panama fotos by Will Van Dorp.

The hat here is not misplaced.  On the job here

a pilot guiding

Histria Coral through the Canal.    She’s less than half an hour ahead of Cap Palmerston

in the adjacent chamber.

Canal employees (v. vessel crew) can be identified here by their

blue uniforms.

Histria Coral is a six-year-old vessel, built in Romania.

Note the plants in the wheel house, sunshade over the bridge wings,

and color-coded manifold.

Ship’s officers?

Once this chamber empties, Histria Coral will be in Pacific waters.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

A few postscripts:

like . . . fotos from the perspective of a Panama Canal pilot, click here.

Ms Pilot, a Panama Canal hawsepiper

and an incomplete tolls caclulator . . . here

One type of post that has evolved here is Whatzit?   Know what this juxtaposition of hardware and jungle might be?

This might help . . . well-maintained metals and uncontrolled jungle coinciding in this case is two

ships side-by-side nearing their transit of the Canal from north to south.

I have no more understanding what happens within the 10 miles or so of piping that make up the manifold of this parecel tanker than I have of the circuitry inside a computer.

One of the many joys watching traffic at the Miraflores lock was getting new perspective on these vessels.  Just a few weeks back I caught sister ship Bow Chain in the KVK, but from the platforms allowed me, I could not see above deck much.

So here’s a chance for both of us to look into recesses, nooks and crannies.

We can familiarize ourselves with the rules and

codes . . .

Contemplate her high and


If you return to the top foto here, you’ll see the green bow of this vessel–Ever Dynamic–sharing the Miraflores locks with Bow Summer.

One of these days, I’ll do a post on the silver mules, like the one lower left.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp.

To see the construction and innards of a tanker in fast motion in Philadelphia, click here.

Tying the recent Nola visit and this post together, click here for a tugster post from over five years ago.  S/R Wilmington was one of the first ships I got upclose fotos of;  she was built in Avondale, LA, and has recently been scrapped.  A related vessel currently called Oriental Nicety is also bound for the scrappers; Nicety‘s previous names have been as follows:  Dong Fang Ocean,  Mediterranean, SeaRiver Mediterranean, and last but not least . . . . Exxon Valdez.

Can you identify this general area?    I just arrived here, but all last night I was dreaming about the Canal.  Should medical attention be sought?

Some quick final shots:  Fortunato.

Stellanova here and

at the lighthouse below Miraflores.


American Patriot, 

Buzzard Bay escorted by

Panama XIV, 

and with this type of cargo . . .

it’s National Geographic’s Sea Lion.

A final observation:  Panama was dusty, generated by all the urgent excavation, blasting, and construction.  I felt an excitement.  Dozens of large trucks like this tranported rearranged earth along the ridge between the old and new canals at Miraflores . . . day and night.  Notice the spotlights.  I’m guessing a return trip in a few years to see the results is a must.

And if Panama seemed dusty, this place–and maybe it was the window or the mix of clouds . . . this place seemed oily.

More to come.

This sign speaks volumes about differing national style, I believe.  In the US, hyperbole would scream out danger;  here a benign-looking reptile is announced as “possibly present.”

I made arrangements for a boat ride on the Canal with the Other company, and they cancelled on me.  I could have had this!!!  And on a historic vessel once used by Al Capone and John Wayne.  Separately.  Gotta research this.

Talofa happened past, headed for the Caribbean.  Be friends on Facebook.   She’s 97′ loa, started in 1928.

Rio Indio passed.

As did Water Phoenix.

Maintenance gets done on the Canal between ships.

Chiquita Schweiz is one of about 14,000 transits annually.

This gate, like all 46 gates in the system, is original and  built in 1914, weighing 690 tons! Manufactured in Pittsburgh.  Gates for the new canal are being fabricated in Italy.

That IS a monkey’s fist on the heaving line on this electric mule aka locomotive.  Built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries.  Click here for other clients.   The Canal has a hundred of these, whose purpose it NOT to tow, only to keep the vessel centered by

means of these cables.  The largest vessels are escorted by eight of these $2 million mules.

If you need to imagine “panamax,” look at these fotos.   Where wall ends and hull begins is hard to tell.  Keeping a 105′ beam vessel from hitting the sides of a 106′ wide chamber . . . hence the mules.

Here’s another view of “panamax.”  Zim Beijing, a sixth boro regular,  today spent $497,000 and change just for the eight-hour transit.

Behind this ridge lies the work site of the expanded locks, where work

goes on round the clock.

Yesterday I caught what looked like a rushing clous of dust . . . a mystery until I heard the blast.

All fotos by Will Van Dorp, who gallivants on to another place early tomorrow.

A final thought:  Miroflores Locks Visitor Center stems from a realization by the government here that shipping attracts tourists.  If any of you have the ear of decision makers in New york, could you plant in their ear the possibility of creating a visitor center/observation deck along the KVK to accommodate tourists who wish to see and learn about the maritime activities of the greatest port on the East Coast . . . as those same politicians like to call it.  And it should be where the shipping traffic is densest and closest . . . along the KVK.  New York, IMHO, has surely neglected this.  If you want me to help pitch the idea, get in touch.


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,205 other followers

If looking for specific "word" in archives, search here.
Questions, comments, photos? Email Tugster

Graves of Arthur Kill

Click on image below to order your copy of Graves of Arthur Kill, by Gary Kane and Will Van Dorp. 3Fish Productions.

Recent Comments

Seth Tane American Painting

Read my Iraq Hostage memoir online.

My Babylonian Captivity

Reflections of an American hostage in Iraq, 20 years later.


March 2018
« Feb