Moving forward with its equipment upgrades for the Expansion Program, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) officially awarded the contract to design and build a new, more powerful cutter suction dredge to IHC Beaver Dredgers B.V. on March 14, 2008. The new 12,000KW dredge will replace "Mindi," which has been in service at the Canal since 1942 and has only a 9,000KW capacity. With an expected delivery date of May 2011, the new dredge will have the modern equipment, systems and components required for efficient operation. "IHC Beaver Dredgers B.V. is very well-respected in the industry and has the expertise to meet our needs. The construction of a dredge with more pumping capacity and the ability to dredge deeper will allow us to continue to make the waterway even more navigable, safe, reliant and efficient," said ACP Vice President of Operations Manuel Benitez. "With this new dredge, the ACP will boost the production capacity of our dredging fleet. This increase is necessary to meet the demands of the expansion, as well as the maintenance and modernization projects of the waterway." The new dredge will be constructed in The Netherlands and will have the capacity to dredge along the entire Canal including the Gaillard Cut (the narrowest stretch in the Panama Canal), Gatun Lake, and both Atlantic and Pacific entrances, at a depth of 25 meters, even after the expansion concludes.
The selection process for the construction of the new dredge began in September 2007, when the ACP released its request for proposals. The ACP awarded the $95.920 million contract to bidder IHC Beaver Dredgers B.V. after reviewing its proposal to ensure that all requirements were met. Dredge construction will begin within the coming months.