Expanded Panama Canal To Officially Open June 26

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) announced Wednesday it will officially open its new locks for transit of larger ships June 26. The canal will hold an inaugural ceremony with a ship traveling from the Agua Clara locks on the Atlantic side of the canal to the Cocoli locks on the Pacific side, after which the expansion will be open for commercial transits, a spokesperson for the ACP said. The new locks will be tested in early June with another vessel, but the spokesperson made it clear there are not two different opening dates. Previous media reports indicated there might be an initial inauguration prior to the official opening for commercial traffic. ACP has postponed the opening of the expansion several times since construction began in 2007, most recently after leaks in lock walls were discovered during testing at elevated water pressure last year. The lock walls have since been reinforced and tested. The opening will be televised, following the ceremonial ship as it passes through the canal, ACP said.