In 2010, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering firm Guido Perla & Associates, Inc. (GPA) was awarded a project to deliver design and engineering services for five barges owned by the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) as a result of a contract signed between ACP and Servicios Industriales de la Marina (SIMA) PERU S.A.
The barges will support the enlargement project of the Panama Canal
, allowing for a greater number of transits and the ability to handle larger ships. To facilitate the extension, which is expected to be completed in 2015, ACP needs to increase the capacity to dredge and carry the material out of the canal. These five new barges, together with already existing barges, as well as two GPA-designed pusher tugs currently under construction also at SIMA, will give ACP that capacity.
GPA’s scope includes the re-design and improvement of an existing barge design, as well as the regulatory package. The barges measure 65.00 meters in overall length with a beam of 15.00 meters, while the hopper measures 47.50 meters in length and has a breadth of 10.92 meters.
While based on barges currently working in the Panama Canal, the re-design of these split hopper barges includes raised cylinders for the opening to allow for simplified maintenance while afloat. The ABS classified, remotely operated barges have a hopper capacity of 1,000m³ and are designed to suit the requirements of the existing ACP dipper dredger Rialto M. Christensen, which is currently operating in the canal.
The first barge is expected to be delivered in June 2011 while the last barge is scheduled to be delivered in May 2012.