Photos by Joseph H. Krause
Since the Canal first opened on August 15, 1914, the waterway has provided
quality transit service to more than 700,000 vessels. Despite the increase in
the number and size of transiting vessels in recent years, the total time spent
by a vessel at the Panama Canal still remains at slightly less than 24 hours.
This remarkable level of performance can be attributed to the team of
professionals trained to provide rapid transit service and to the timely
implementation of improvements designed to interface with traffic demand. Some
$10 million dollars is spent each year on training programs to prepare
Panamanians for the operation and maintenance of the Canal. Today, Panamanians
comprise more than 87 percent of the Canal's seasoned work force, and occupy
positions in high-skill areas vital to the Canal organization.
Of the thousands of vessels transiting the Canal each year, about 23 percent
of the total ocean-going transits are by PAN-AMAX-size vessels, the largest
vessels the waterway can accommodate. An optional transit reservation system is
available upon request to provide a guaranteed priority transit. The nature of
improvements to the Canal keenly reflect the ever increasing role of PAN-AMAX
vessels in the movement of world commerce. Use of the all-water routes through
the Panama Canal, will continue to be an important, cost-effective
transportation mode for a significant segment of world trade.
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