Max Q
Topic Author
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Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Thu Sep 12, 2019 6:56 am

I was just looking at the maximum dimensions for the new Panama Canal

They can accept a ship up to 1200’ in length, with a beam of 168’ and a maximum draft of 47’

These limits would allow passage of a Nimitz class carrier unless I’m missing something. I haven’t looked at the
Ford class.


However i don’t think I’ve ever seen pictures of a CVN transiting the canal

Is this / has this been done ?
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:23 am

The deck is super wide, 252 feet, DD6 at PSNS is massive and you can barely see the DD, it hangs over the side roads completely.

A major addition to PSNS was Dry-dock No. 6, large enough to hold the new giant Forrestal-class aircraft carriers. Dry-dock No. 6, dedicated on April 23, 1962, is 1,180 feet long, 180 feet wide, and 60 feet deep.
historylink.org

Image

CVN68 also will not fit under one of the bridges at the canal. The Ford hullform is basically the same as the Nimitz, so it fits in DD6, needs huge utility upgrades.
 
Max Q
Topic Author
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:37 am

Beautiful picture you have there


Hadn’t thought about the overhanging structure but that explains why they go around Cape Horn occasionally


I imagine the smaller amphibious carriers can transit the canal
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3214
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:39 pm

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:40 am

No, until 2016, the locks were too small for any post WWII era carrier, including the post-war Essex class carriers with the angle deck refit.

The Panama Canal is also still too narrow for a carrier as well; one of the rules is that a ship transiting the canal cannot overhang the lock walls (or they’d strike the lock walls as the water level was lowered), and with a flight deck width of 256 ft, the carriers are dramatically over the maximum width.

And there has never been a need for a USN carrier to transit the canal; the big issue is that it can easily take 12 hours to transit the canal, and it can only be done in broad daylight for any ship that's even close to the maximum dimensions. That's a lot of time spent being tied up waiting for a modern warship.
 
VSMUT
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Thu Sep 12, 2019 7:42 am

Max Q wrote:
I imagine the smaller amphibious carriers can transit the canal


The Wasps can, but need to fold the elevators up before. The America class also lives up to Panamax, but would also need to fold the elevators.
 
Max Q
Topic Author
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:40 am

Interesting replies, thanks
The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.


Guns and the love of them by a loud minority are a malignant and deadly cancer inflicted on American society
 
WIederling
Posts: 8888
Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2015 2:15 pm

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Fri Sep 13, 2019 7:20 am

VSMUT wrote:
Max Q wrote:
I imagine the smaller amphibious carriers can transit the canal


The Wasps can, but need to fold the elevators up before. The America class also lives up to Panamax, but would also need to fold the elevators.


If that is technically not an issue ...

And anyway: Wasn't the Panama Canal infrastructure expanded in recent years
to accomodate ships built to a larger limit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panamax#New_Panamax

Shipping passage to the new limits started in June 2016 ( a Chineese box carrier made the first passage : "The United States dispatched a navy ship to Panama to demonstrate U.S. naval power to the Chinese ship." :-))

<quote>.. to handle vessels with overall length of 366 m (1201 feet), 49 meters beam (increased by the Canal Authority effective 1 June 2018 to 51.25 meters, to accommodate ships with 20 rows of containers) and 15.2 meters draft.. </quote>
Murphy is an optimist
 
ThePointblank
Posts: 3214
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Fri Sep 13, 2019 10:29 am

WIederling wrote:
VSMUT wrote:
Max Q wrote:
I imagine the smaller amphibious carriers can transit the canal


The Wasps can, but need to fold the elevators up before. The America class also lives up to Panamax, but would also need to fold the elevators.


If that is technically not an issue ...

And anyway: Wasn't the Panama Canal infrastructure expanded in recent years
to accomodate ships built to a larger limit?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panamax#New_Panamax

Shipping passage to the new limits started in June 2016 ( a Chineese box carrier made the first passage : "The United States dispatched a navy ship to Panama to demonstrate U.S. naval power to the Chinese ship." :-))

<quote>.. to handle vessels with overall length of 366 m (1201 feet), 49 meters beam (increased by the Canal Authority effective 1 June 2018 to 51.25 meters, to accommodate ships with 20 rows of containers) and 15.2 meters draft.. </quote>

Yes, the Panama Canal was expanded, but the biggest issue is that there is a bottleneck at the Culevra Cut. The Cut is only wide enough for ships that are close to or at the Panamax dimensions to go by itself, i.e. ships going the other way must wait for the ship to pass (or the ship has to sit while any ship in the Cut clears the Cut). Hence, the Canal often operates in a one-way mode when there are a number of ships that are close to or are at the Panamax maximum dimensions.
 
WIederling
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:14 pm

ThePointblank wrote:
Yes, the Panama Canal was expanded, but the biggest issue is that there is a bottleneck at the Culevra Cut. The Cut is only wide enough for ships that are close to or at the Panamax dimensions to go by itself, i.e. ships going the other way must wait for the ship to pass (or the ship has to sit while any ship in the Cut clears the Cut). Hence, the Canal often operates in a one-way mode when there are a number of ships that are close to or are at the Panamax maximum dimensions.


That should be no hold back for US Navy ships passing.
( They could re-invade Panama if the Canal Authority balks :-)
Murphy is an optimist
 
GalaxyFlyer
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Sat Sep 14, 2019 12:27 am

Carriers are well past post-Panamax size in beam of the flight deck. We could take it back, but it wouldn’t change anything.

GF
 
canyonblue17
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 12:22 am

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Sun Sep 15, 2019 8:09 pm

Do military submarines use the Panama Canal? I would imagine most are small enough to fit?
negative ghostrider the pattern is full
 
dfwjim1
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Sun Sep 15, 2019 9:28 pm

A side question...how often do carriers go around Cape Horn? Couldn't be that common.
 
Ozair
Posts: 4277
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Sun Sep 15, 2019 10:31 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
A side question...how often do carriers go around Cape Horn? Couldn't be that common.

According to this history of the Nimitz it passed Cape Horn twice, first in 87 and then again in 2001.

https://www.history.navy.mil/content/hi ... imitz.html

Looks like most carriers do the Horn trip at least a couple times and sometimes more. The Enterprise was even towed from Newport News to Puget Sound via the Horn after decommissioning.


canyonblue17 wrote:
Do military submarines use the Panama Canal? I would imagine most are small enough to fit?

A youtube video of a 688 passing through the canal.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hgrxl5Ng1Q
 
zanl188
Posts: 3722
Joined: Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:05 pm

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 12:43 am

Ozair wrote:

Looks like most carriers do the Horn trip at least a couple times and sometimes more. The Enterprise was even towed from Newport News to Puget Sound via the Horn after decommissioning


Enterprise is still in Newport News
Legal considerations provided by: Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe
 
Ozair
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:21 am

zanl188 wrote:
Ozair wrote:

Looks like most carriers do the Horn trip at least a couple times and sometimes more. The Enterprise was even towed from Newport News to Puget Sound via the Horn after decommissioning


Enterprise is still in Newport News

Interesting. The article I found the info from, http://nation.time.com/2013/01/07/obit-for-a-carrier/ was written in 2013. I didn't realise the Enterprise was still there. Assume the plan hasn't changed though?
 
zanl188
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Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 2:59 am

Original plan to decommission & scrap Enterprise was cost prohibitive. I believe USN has several new proposals under evaluation. Regardless, they are way behind schedule and over budget.
Legal considerations provided by: Dewey, Cheatum, and Howe
 
JayinKitsap
Posts: 1487
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 9:55 am

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 3:15 am

zanl188 wrote:
Original plan to decommission & scrap Enterprise was cost prohibitive. I believe USN has several new proposals under evaluation. Regardless, they are way behind schedule and over budget.


A very tricky ship to recycle. Subs and cruisers have a single reactor. Enterprise has 4 paired reactors located in an ackward manner. The shield bell for the pair is too heavy to lift. The work to split the primary loop is dangerous. Best plan is to let it float until one of 2 drydocks has a 2 year window, maybe longer.
 
Woodreau
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Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 6:44 am

Re: Do nuclear aircraft carriers transit the Panama Canal ?

Mon Sep 16, 2019 1:27 pm

dfwjim1 wrote:
A side question...how often do carriers go around Cape Horn? Couldn't be that common.


The Navy has to rotate carriers between the coasts for the mid life refueling. Newport News in Virginia is the only shipyard that is capable of refueling a carrier. So in general, “new” or “freshly refueled” carrier gets rotated out to the West coast via deployment to the Arabian gulf, finish the deployment on the west coast. The west coast carrier coming up for refueling, deploys to the Arabian gulf, finishes the deployment in Norfolk.

Carriers can go through the Suez Canal, so whether they go through the Suez or go around Cape Horn depends on operational needs. They don’t have to go around Cape Horn.

Max Q wrote:
I was just looking at the maximum dimensions for the new Panama Canal

They can accept a ship up to 1200’ in length, with a beam of 168’ and a maximum draft of 47’

These limits would allow passage of a Nimitz class carrier unless I’m missing something. I haven’t looked at the
Ford class.


However i don’t think I’ve ever seen pictures of a CVN transiting the canal

Is this / has this been done ?


It’s not just the dimensions of the lock itself, but the height of the lock walls also limits the kind of ships. The few times I’ve transited the Panama Canal, you’re staring at the lock walls standing on the bridge (on a frigate) as you enter the bottom lock to be raised. The width of the flight deck overhang wouldn’t allow the carrier to get into the bottom lock to be raised.
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