Many have heard of the Panama Canal, but did you know that Nicaragua is planning to open a competing canal? Chinese investors have put forth a $50 billion budget into cutting a 172 mile waterway through Nicaragua to compete with the “American Panama Canal.”
Meanwhile, the Suez Canal, which meanders through Egypt connecting to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, is doubling its capacity from an average of 49 ships a day to 97, and decreasing transit times from 18 hours to 11 hours. It is ambitiously scheduled for completion in August 2015, the same time as the expansion project on the Panama Canal.
Why are these watery pathways so important? It takes just 8 to 10 hours to traverse the Panama Canal, plus about 15 more hours while waiting on either end. That is still much faster than the shortest alternate ocean crossing, which tacks on some 3,000 miles. For example, a freighter from East Asia averaging a speed of 19 knots could get to the Gulf of Mexico in 41 days going around Cape Horn, or 43 days using the Suez Canal. With the Panama Canal, the trip takes only 25 days – slashing transit time by 40 percent as well as cutting fuel costs.
Over the past 20 years or so, traffic on the World’s oceans has quadrupled. Ships now carry 95 percent of the cargo imported to American shores. Will the American Infrastructure be ready for these increasing demands? Not currently. The focus has been placed on the big ports, but they are failing under the pressures of the large loads. Small Community ports are critical to the survival of our Nation, and to our local Communities.
Community ports such as those in our own state – the Port of Georgetown and the Port of Charleston – will become increasingly important over the upcoming years. In fact, the newly funded work towards dredging the Port of Georgetown to a 27-foot depth can help the port handle 1 million tons of cargo each year, improving upon local commerce and trade in our great State.
Loving and enjoying our waterways, and benefiting from the commerce they bring to our State and Country; our law firm stays informed about the conditions and changes that effect canals, ports, cargo, and ship owners.
If you or a family member have any questions or concerns about issues you may have on the water, at port, or while working on the docks; feel free to contact us at Goldfinch Winslow, LLC. We are specially trained to handle maritime matters and work towards the protection of those that serve us out on the open water.