Two of five split hopper barges, designed by Seattle-based Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering firm Guido Perla & Associates, Inc. (GPA) recently went into service in Panama after they were successfully received and accepted by they Panama Canal Authority. Built at Servicios Industriales de la Marina (SIMA) PERU S.A., the barges were towed to Panama after undergoing testing in Peru.
In 2010, GPA was awarded this 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 SIMA.
The barges 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 for the barge design included the basic design and regulatory package, following strict requirements of the ACP specifications. 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. A unique feature of the barges is the raised position of the hydraulic cylinders, set such that they allow for their repair with the barge on the water, an improvement on other standard designs.
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.
These barges are yet another example of GPA gradually developing and securing a position as a significant player in the South American maritime industry. The five barges and two pusher tugs are the first contracts that GPA secured for the Panamanian market and are the result of continuous and diligent efforts to enter Panama for several years now.
“We are very pleased that GPA was chosen to design these vessels. We continuously invest intensive time and effort into the South American market and are quite satisfied that it is paying off, with a total of 19 vessels under construction at South American shipyards,” explains Guido Perla, Chairman of GPA.
In the early days, most, if not all, of GPA’s clients were US-based but with the expansion of the company to different continents in recent years, GPA has become a truly fully fledged global player. Concurrently to the projects for Panama, several other GPA-designed vessels are under construction for the workboat and offshore industry in Brazil, China and the US. Due to advanced, cost effective design methods, GPA can successfully compete in these major markets against larger players with certain competitive advantages and thus established a reputation as a prominent naval architecture and marine engineering firm worldwide.