The historic project to upgrade the Panama Canal will significantly enhance international trade and navigation, enabling it to handle Post-Panamax vessels. Two major complexes of maritime locks, the design of which was developed by Belgian engineering firms, have been constructed under the project.
DEME was tasked with both widening and deepening the existing canal, as well as the construction of the Pacific entrance and South approach channel to the third set of locks on the Panama Canal.
More specifically, a 14.2 km stretch of the Canal had to be widened to a minimum width of 225 m and deepened to a minimum depth of – 16.3 m. We eventually had to remove a total of 10 million m³, a substantial part of which was very strong rock that had to be drilled and blasted. The Panama Canal subsoil is known to be notoriously hard.
We were able to obtain this prestigious contract by offering an interesting execution method, the assignment of ultramodern heavy dredging plant, and a variety of innovative technologies. The contract required the assignment of a broad range of specialised plant including ocean-going, heavy rock cutter suction dredgers, trailing hopper dredgers, large backhoe dredgers, and highly advanced, self-propelled pontoons for drilling and blasting.