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The expanded Panama Canal and it's dangers to tugboats


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Waterway worries


Panama Canal expansion brings about new challenges for pilots, tug operators


- See more at: http://digitaledition.chicagotribune.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=2fb0c10a-05e0-48e0-9597-8cb124a65d8f#sthash.tZLKjblD.dpuf

By Juan Zamorano and Peter Orsi

Associated Press

ON LAKE MIRAFLORES, Panama — Waiting to guide a cargo carrier toward the Panama Canal's southern locks, Benjamin Russo gazed from his tugboat at another vessel headed north toward the Caribbean Sea.

At 650 feet long and loaded with automobiles, it was a massive ship. Yet, it pales in comparison to the so-called New Panamax behemoths, up to 1,200 feet in length, which within days will begin transiting the waterway. 

I remember watching a special about Pilots being helicoptered to large freighters near the mouth of the Columbia River and this sounds ust as dangerous.

David B



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Thanks for that fascinating article. I feel for those tug boat pilots as that has to be a nerve racking job. The canal has been a tight squeeze for a long time and although this new system will probably be better in the long run, like the article states, there will be a steep learning curve and the first few months there will probably be a lot of "white knuckled" pilots.

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