Panama Canal Expansion Consulting

  • Clients:
  • Completion Date:
  • Key Collaborators:
  • Project Type:
    Marine Consulting
  • Service Categories:
    Marine Consulting
  • Challenge:
    Provide marine technical consulting services in support of the Panama Canal expansion.


The Panama Canal began construction on a third set of locks in 2007 to double the canal’s capacity and allow larger ships to pass through. The new locks were built on the Atlantic and Pacific sides to accommodate Panamax-class vessels of up to 1,200 feet (366 meters) in length, 160 feet (49 meters) in beam, and 13,000 TEU capacity.

The Panama Canal Authority assumes some liability for damage to vessels in transit through the locks—a risk which is compounded by high throughput goals. MWH led the design of the new locks in a joint venture (CICP) and engaged Glosten to provide a range of consulting services to the CICP consortium with a special focus on vessel interface with the lock structure and a challenging fendering system.



The key to a successful system is to allow vessels to come into contact with the lock structures without incurring damage or repair costs or damaging the locks and impacting traffic with repairs. Glosten analyzed fendering system performance and consulted on procurement, vendor selection and design reviews, and vessel/lock interface studies for the expansion project. These efforts were directed at approach walls, lock corner protection, and lock wall protection. Glosten analyzed the requirements for each fender subsystem to fit the many vessel types and sizes that would be transiting the canal.

Approximately 9,500 fender units of various types were installed in the third set of locks, and the systems can operate in tidal changes of up to 23 feet (7 meters). Glosten’s concept designs, performance recommendations, and peer reviews ensured that maritime standards were fully integrated into the lock fendering arrangement.

The Glosten team brought unmatched expertise to address a unique technical challenge and came up with creative, effective solutions.”

Nick Pansic, former Vice President/Civil Engineer, MWH

In The Press.