The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) held the christening ceremony of its new drill barge "Barú," named after Panama's only volcano. Entirely manufactured by Panamanians, the Barú is 51 meters long and 15 meters wide, nearly the size of two basketball courts. The new, state-of-the-art barge will play an instrumental role in the Canal's dredging initiatives. Dredging (deepening and widening navigation channels and other areas by extracting mud, rock and sand) is fundamental to maintaining and improving the Panama Canal's infrastructure. The Barú is equipped with four drilling rigs that can bore holes up to 30 meters in a single pass. The drilled holes are loaded with explosives and detonated to fracture the rock. The blasted material is then removed by floating equipment, such as the dipper dredge the Rialto M. Christensen. "The ACP's Industrial Shipyard Division, together with local Panamanian workers, accomplished an enormous task and overcame several challenges building such a large craft. The Barú is one of our best industrial achievements. This is a momentous event as we christen this barge during the dredging conference organized by the Western Dredging Association (WEDA) - in the presence of the world's dredging industry representatives," said ACP Director of Engineering Agustin Arias. One hundred craftsmen from Panama were specially commissioned to construct the Barú, which was designed by De Donge Shipbuilding. These workers constructed the barge with the ACP's Industrial Shipyard Division, which allowed for an exchange of information and a transfer in technology. The Barú boasts sophisticated apparatus for controlling and monitoring drilling operations. It also has many amenities that will provide for added comfort to the crew. Such components and systems include: air conditioning and ventilation, hydraulics, potable water and sanitation. The construction of the new barge is part of the Canal's Permanent Modernization Program, which includes investments in technology, capital improvements and operational measures to increase capacity. The more than $1.5 billion investment has allowed the ACP to improve and enhance the waterway's current infrastructure and services, thereby guaranteeing to its users reliable schedules and safe transits.