Ships that Pass Through the Canal


ship exiting the Panama Canal

The ship in these photos is named "First Lady". She was passing by Barro Colorado Island when Jackie walked out to Fairchild Point (also known as Salud Point). The photo on the right shows her approaching, passing among some of the smaller islands in Gatun Lake. Ships must use special marker buoys to guide them through the deep shipping lane in the lake. Every ship is required to take on a pilot at the beginning of the journey through the canal, and the pilot takes charge of guiding the ship safely through the canal.

barge in the Panama Canal

     If the ships don't stay in the lane, they can bump the tops of dead trees that once formed a forest, and the ship's hull could be damaged. When the lake was created by damming the Chagres River, the forest was slowly covered and the trees died. The dead tree stumps have been in the lake since 1913.

barge in the Panama Canal

     As the ship passed Fairchild Point (Salud Point), it was possible to see her cargo. Can you make out the box-like containers? These containers can be put on railroad cars or tractor trailers once the ship reaches port. Can you recognize the cement mixer trucks on top? How big is a cement mixer? How big is a container? How big is this ship? Can you make an estimate? Do you see the cranes that are used for moving the cargo?

ship in the Panama Canal

     As the ship passed by, Jackie looked for people to wave to, but no one was walking around on the deck. The ship's decks get very hot in the Canal, so most crew try to stay inside.

barge in the Panama Canal

     The people on this ship live in a building on the deck. The one on this ship is in this photo, near the stern (rear) and is about six stories high: look for the windows.

    The information contained here is from a brochure on the Panama Canal, from the Panama Canal Company.

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