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PANAMA :) ,CAN
E FALL 1974
Governor David S. Parker at Pedro Miguel Locks.
Froml the Governor of' the Calal Zone
)n1 die Sixtieth Alniversary of thdie Panallia Canal
Sixty years ago, this month,
the maritime nations of the world
hailed an event that provided a new
link in the lanes of international
commerce. The Panama Canal, one
of the outstanding engineering feats
of the century, opened on August
The establishment of an avenue
of access between the Atlantic and
Pacific oceans was the fulfillment
of a centuries-old dream that started
in 1502, when Columbus explored
The determination, talent, and
technical skills of the men who
realized that dream set a standard
of excellence that has served as an
inspiration to all who were to be
associated with the operation of the
Canal in succeeding years.
Grey thunder clouds gather over the dipper dredge Cascadas
hard at work clearing the Canal of silt and debris as a freighter
makes a southbound transit. Along with the widening of the
Canal, the constant dredging has resulted in more dirt being
removed from the waterway since it opened than during
Now, as we reach another mile-
stone in the life of the waterway, I
think we can all take pride in that
association. During the last sixty
years nearly half a million ships of
many nations have transited the
Canal, carrying a wide variety of
commodities to every corner of the
Improvements have been made
and new techniques developed to
enable us to handle larger ships with
greater efficiency. Projections indi-
cate that with further improve-
ments, we could nearly double the
present capacity of the waterway.
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW 3
More than 15,000 people with a
wide variety of skills and profes-
sions are engaged in running the
Canal and its many supporting fa-
cilities. To all these men and wom-
en, Americans and Panamanians,
must go the credit for maintaining
the high standards of efficiency that
have characterized the Panama Ca-
nal from the beginning. And what-
ever the future needs of world ship-
ping, I am confident that those
standards will be maintained.
David S. Parker
Governor of the Canal Zone
David S. Parker
Richard L. Hunt
Frank A. Baldwin
Panama Canal Information Officer
R Eicial Panama Canal Publication
Official Panama Canal Publication
Willie K. Friar
Editor, English Edition
Joas T. Tuf6n
Editor, Spanish Edition
Vic Canel, Fannie P. Hern6ndez.
Franklin Castrell6n and Dalares E. Suisman
Review articles may be reprinted without further clearance. Credit to the Review will be appreciated.
The Panama Canal Review is published twice a year. Yearly subscription: regular mail $1, airmail $2, single copies 50 cents.
For subscription, send check or money order, made payable to the Panama Canal Company, to Panama Canal Review, Box M, Balboa Heights, C.Z.
Editorial Office is located in Room 100, Administration Building, Balboa Heights, C.Z.
Printed at the Panama Canal Printing Plant, La Boca, C.Z.
of the Panaima Cmal d
A Profile in Paintilngs
"The scale, the immensity of
the whole may be judged by the
size of the engines and figures.
I have never seen such a mag-
nificent arrangement of line,
light, and mass, and yet those were
the last things the engineers
thought of. But great work is
great art, and always was, and
This was the way Joseph Pennell,
an artist well known for his
lithographs of the construction
of the Panama Canal, expressed
his impressions of the waterway
in 1912. He was writing specifically
of the lock gates under construc-
tion at Gatun, but that is the way
an artist might describe the
Canal as it is today.
An engineering triumph of
mammoth proportions, the Canal
continues to stimulate a feeling
of awe and respect and is con-
sidered one of the most impressive
and dramatically picturesque
waterways of the world.
Though often photographed,
it has seldom been the subject
of visiting artists because of the
time required to travel its length
and sketch its many aspects.
But this year, Al Sprague, who
probably knows the Canal better
than any artist of today, has pro-
duced a series of paintings which
show the busy waterway in
operation with a certain subtle
emphasis on the people who make
it work-the men who pilot the
ships, operate the locomotives,
handle the lines, and dredge
On the 60th anniversary of
the opening of the Panama Canal,
these paintings are being re-
produced in the Review as a
special salute to the employees
of the Canal and to world shipping.
Sprague, who was born in the
old Colon Hospital on the Atlantic
side of the Isthmus, is an art
instructor at Balboa High School.
The Canal has been one of his
favorite subjects for many years
and his series of paintings showing
all phases of the locks overhaul is
on display in the Board Room of
the Administration Building at
His work is popular in the
United States, where it is found
in many private collections and is
on permanent display at the Eric
Schindler Gallery in Richmond, Va.
He lives in Balboa with his
wife, Barbara, also an artist, and
their three children.
The front: Two ships pass in
Gaillard Cut where the Canal
passes through the Continental
Divide between banks which
exceed 300 feet in height in some
areas. The back: The metal
sheathing on the massive gates
at Gatun Locks stands out in stark
detail as a Norwegian ship is
Photographs by Arthur L. Pollack
rw : .-...
...I-,,. ..-;~ I
At Miraflores Locks, ships are raised or lowered 54 feet
in a two step operation. This freighter, which has just been
locked into the upper chamber, towers over the control
house, from which the massive gates are operated.
ARTIST AT WORK-Standing
on the crosswalk atop the lock
gates, Al Sprague makes pre-
liminary sketches for a painting
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
The Panama Canal
Sixty and Still Serving
With multi-colored containers shining brightly through a
heavy tropical rainstorm, a super ship moves into the Cristobal
anchorage to prepare for an Atlantic to Pacific transit.
Container ships, the biggest innovation in shipping in recent
years, are an important part of Canal traffic.
As they have since the opening of the Canal in 1914, men in
small boats row out to throw the lines up to the ship for
attaching the cables to the towing locomotives. Even in an age
of automation and giant ships, this continues to be the most
practical method of doing the job.
"ACD 2 this is South 3 ...
is North 6 a super? .. over . .
"Affirmative South 3, he
passed Gamboa at 0950."
Conversations like this come
crackling over the radios at the
Marine Traffic Control Center of
the Panama Canal 24 hours a day.
Communications are vital to the
efficient operation of the Canal
and traffic controllers are in
constant touch with pilots of
transiting vessels, locks operators,
and their counterparts on the
opposite end of the waterway.
In this particular exchange, the
pilot of the ship making the third
southbound transit of the day
wanted to know whether the sixth
vessel to transit in the opposite
direction was one of the large
The transit controller gives a
point of reference that will allow
the pilot on the southbound vessel
to calculate just where in the
THE PANAMA CANAT. REVIEW
A Panama Canal pilot talks on his radio as he leans out to
check the bow clearance of the wide beamed ship being locked
through the 110-foot chamber of Gatun. As many as four
pilots may be assigned to such super ships, with a senior
control pilot in charge.
Canal he might encounter the
larger vessel. He can then adjust
his speed so that this happens
at a convenient location for
Ships have been transiting the
Canal in very much the same
manner since the SS Ancon made
the inaugural transit on August 15,
1914. But things were a little
different in the early days. There
were no super ships to worry
about. And traffic was a mere
trickle compared to today's.
During the first fiscal year of
operation, there were only 1,108
transits, an average of three ships
a day. Today, controllers, pilots,
locks operators and other Canal
workers are kept busy handling
about 40 ships a day. In fiscal
Oblivious to the warm tropical rain, a line handler watches a
ship as it waits to enter Gatun locks with the help of a tug.
Raincoats are seldom worn during the hot and humid rainy
season. (See center fold)
year 1973 there were 15,109
Ships are requested to radio
the US Navy communications
station at Farfan, on the West Bank
of the Canal at least 48 hours
before arriving in Canal Zone
waters for transit. If they are
transiting for the first time, they
are asked to provide such infor-
mation as length and beam,
destination, type of cargo they
are carrying and any special
characteristics of the vessel.
The information is then relayed
by teletype to the Marine Traffic
Control Center and the ship is
scheduled for transit. Preliminary
schedules are prepared 36 hours
In the case of regular Canal
customers, all pertinent informa-
tion is already stored in the Ship
Data Bank, a new computerized
system which was put into effect
The Ship Data Bank stores two
broad categories of information-
ship characteristics and ship
Ship characteristics include
dimensions, tonnage, capacity,
warping and mooring equipment
and special handling character-
Activity data, which is collected
each time a ship transits the
Canal or uses Canal Zone port
facilities, consists of detailed
Ships, water and sky form a scene of tranquil beauty against
the jungle covered hills surrounding Gatun Lake as ships
lie at anchor waiting their turn to complete their transit
of the busy waterway.
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
transit times, the pilot's evaluation
of the ship's maneuvering
equipment and ability, tolls paid,
customs and quarantine data
and cargo statistics.
Each ship is assigned a per-
manent identification number,
which remains constant regardless
of changes in name, ownership
When the Marine Traffic
Center receives word of the im-
pending arrival of a ship, the
card is pulled and the scheduler
can determine at a glance how
many locomotives will be required
to assist it through the locks,
whether tugs will be needed and
whether one, two, or four pilots
should be assigned to take her
Pertinent information about the
ship is written with a grease
pencil on a "paddle", a strip of
heavy plastic, which is then
placed on the "due" board.
Once the schedule is made up,
Marine Traffic controllers assign
pilots and work crews and arrange
for tugs if needed.
On the day the ship transits,
the information goes onto the
transit board and her transit times
through each of the locks are
Ships making the southbound
transit, from Atlantic to Pacific,
usually lay at anchor inside the
breakwater in the Bay of Lim6n,
within sight of the twin terminal
cities of Cristobal and Colon, to
wait their scheduled turn.
At Gatun Locks, largest of the
three sets, they are lifted in three
A Panama Canal deckhand comes down a jacob's ladder as
others await their turn to descend into a launch from the
deck of a Japanese ship.
His green helmet glinting in the sun, a line handler keeps
an eye on the cables while a crew member watches the
transit operation from the deck of his ship as it moves into
the lower chamber at Miraflores.
steps to the level of Gatun Lake,
85 feet above sea level.
Following the old Chagres River
bed, vessels wend their way
through the island-dotted lake
for 23V2 miles, to the northern
end of Gaillard Cut, which lies
at the townsite of Gamboa, head-
quarters of the Canal's Dredging
This is home base for the heavy
equipment used in the never
ending job of maintaining the
channels and harbors clear for
shipping-giant floating cranes,
suction and dipper dredges and a
drill boat for underwater blasting
Gaillard Cut, formerly called
Culebra Cut, was renamed as a
posthumous tribute to the man
responsible for digging it,
Col. David DuBose Gaillard.
Sailing through this portion of
the Canal, one is impressed with
the magnitude of the project.
The Cut is eight miles long and
most of it was built by blasting
and digging through solid rock.
Before the ship reaches the next
set of locks, Pedro Miguel, it
passes the promontories which
mark the Continental Divide.
On the left, is Gold Hill, which
at 662 feet above sea level, is the
highest along the channel. On the
right is Contractor's Hill, which
originally rose to a height of
410 feet, but was shaved down
to 370 feet in 1954 as a precaution
against the slides that have plagued
the Canal since the beginning.
Gaillard Cut was originally
excavated to a width of 300 feet.
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW 1 i
Filling the chamber almost wall to wall, this large cargo vessel
appears to be a part of the locks. Up forward on the deck,
a Canal pilot watches the stabilizing cables attached to the
towing locomotive. Bow pilots are used when the bridge of
the ship is located aft.
During the 1930's and 1940's the
straight section immediately north
of Gold Hill was widened to 500
feet to provide a passing section
for large ships. Between 1957
and 1971 the entire Cut was
widened to 500 feet to permit
more efficient and safer passage.
Though some of the super ships
still require a "clear cut", which
means that no other ship can
meet them in this portion of the
Canal. widening of the Cut has
made the scheduler and pilot's
job a little easier.
At the south end of Gaillard
Cut, ships enter Pedro Miguel
Locks to be lowered 31 feet in a
one step operation into Miraflores
Lake, a small artificial body of
water separating the two sets of
Sailing a mile further south,
the ship reaches Miraflores Locks,
to be lowered the remaining 54
feet down to sea level on the
Pacific side. At Miraflores
there are two chambers in each
lane, so that lifting or lowering
of vessels is done in two steps.
Miraflores is one of the top
tourist attractions on the Isthmus.
Here, an average of more than
3,000 visitors a week come to
watch the parade of ships from
a specially constructed observation
platform. Canal Zone Guides
provide a running commentary
of the operation over a loud
speaker system and offer slide
briefings and film showings to
special groups at a theater within
the lock area.
As ships sail out into the Pacific
they pass under the imposing steel
arch bridge that spans the entrance
to the Panama Canal and is an
important link in the Panamerican
The lights on the bridge over the Panama Canal come on at
twilight as a ship that has completed her transit moves out
into the Pacific and continues her journey.
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
An architect's draining of the new Traffic Control Center
located at the Pacific entrance of the Panama Canal.
For Better Traffic Control
Schematic drawing of the computerized operations system
to be installed in the new building.
Scheduling and controlling
....... ship traffic through the Panama
Canal soon will be streamlined
through the magic of modern
Monitoring the progress of ships
as they transit the waterway will
S.be made easier and more efficient
,,, ..~, g,,with computers and vastly im-
proved communications when a
-_ new Marine Traffic Control
.r System (MTCS) goes into opera-
.. .. tion in October, 1975.
Though marine traffic con-
trollers and schedulers will be
doing essentially the same job
they are now doing, they will be
performing faster, more efficiently
and in more comfortable
The new MTCS will be housed
in a new facility located in
La Boca overlooking the Pacific
entrance to the Canal. All ship
transit and harbor movements
will be coordinated and monitored
from this facility which will also
serve as the headquarters for the
Marine Bureau's Transit
The new system will include a
Direct Data Network (DDN)
consisting of 23 remote com-
munication stations located at
key points along the Canal. Using
telephone circuits, the teletype-
like stations will provide instant
communications between the new
Marine Traffic Control Center
and every element concerned
with ship movements, bunkering
and stevedoring operations,
admeasurement, customs and
collection of tolls.
Information can be directed
selectively to one or more of the
stations or transmitted to all
simultaneously, thus sharply
reducing the number of phone
calls and radio transmissions
that now must be made to ac-
complish the same objective.
The MTCS will provide timely
information on the status of ships
in the locks and in the waterway.
Ship progress within the locks
will be telemetered automatically.
Vessel progress in the waterway
will be approximated by the com-
puter based on position and speed
reports from pilots.
A 48-foot by six-foot ship
position display board in the
Traffic Control Center will permit
traffic controllers to view at a
glance the traffic situation in the
Canal. Lighted numbers represent-
ing ships in transit according to
their order in the schedule will
show their approximate position
in the canal--orange lights for
northbound traffic, amber for
Each of the two transit con-
trollers on duty at all times will sit
before a battery of six CRT's
(cathode ray tubes) which will
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW 17
The Panama Canal passed another milestone this year when the
400,000th oceangoing commercial vessel transited the waterway.
The vessel that made the memorable transit was the Liberian bulk car-
rier Pennsylvania Getty, a 799-foot ship with a 105-foot beam. She was
en route from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to Japan with 51,686 tons of coal.
It took 43 years, from the time the Canal first opened in 1914 to
1957, to reach the 200,000 mark but the second 200,000 oceangoing ship
came only 17 years later, pointing up the increased role the Canal has
played in international commerce. (Photo on page 18 and 19)
display all the information now
entered by hand and displayed
on a schedule board. This includes
scheduled events and those which
have already taken place.
Schedules and schedule changes
will be disseminated automatically
at fixed-time intervals. Each
remote terminal will receive a
message which is especially de-
signed for the user. Remote stations
can request and receive additional
data by interrogating the computer
at any time.
Pilots will receive individually
tailored reports with schedule and
transit information at the launch
landings before leaving to board
their assigned ships.
The spacious operations room
in the new traffic control center
will have three floor levels to
afford watch supervisors,
schedulers, controllers and clerks
an unobstructed view of the ship
position display board.
The new MTCS will employ
standard computer techniques.
It is designed to automate as
many of the menial tasks as
possible, but decision-making
will still be left to experienced
marine traffic control personnel.
The system will perform
logical switching, data handling,
display driving, query generation,
and generation of reminder mes-
sages whenever tasks fail to be
performed on time. Critical
elements of the system are
duplexed to insure maximum
A contract for procurement of
the entire MTCS was awarded
to The Boeing Company last
February. Under the contract,
Boeing will complete the detailed
design, furnish and install all
hardware, provide all programming
and coding, integrate and test
the new system, and provide
maintenance for a one year period.
Construction continues on the Traffic Control Center
building which is scheduled for completion in November
of this year. The small structure in the foreground will house
the utilities for the main building.
UG Rolurnedrna Dun ROWu