Noon Dec. 31, 1999 - U.S. turns over control of the Panama Canal! : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

The U.S. has been running the Panama Canal, a major trade gateway, and due to rebellion by the Panamanians, has agreed to turn over all authority to Panama as of noon Dec. 31, 1999. I wonder if Panama has the money and know-how to keep it up and running!

The web page says that as of Jan. 15, 1999 they have it 60% fixed. I don't know ... that sounds a little iffy to me .. and could be very disruptive to trade worldwide.

-- da man (, February 23, 1999


Good grief! I totally forgot about that! One more thing to upset the apple barrel. Year 2000 is going to be SOOOOOO interesting. Kitty in VA

-- Kitty in VA (, February 23, 1999.

Yeah, I sure hope all that seawater is Y2K compliant. Even some algae have been known to have embedded chips and God only knows if they've checked them. Probably relied on the manufacturers statements of compliancy....or should I say readiness.

Nah....don't worry, it'll be shipshape in time.

-- Craig (, February 23, 1999.

-- Craig,

Think "Choke point"! Doesn't take a military genious to figger that one!

Never heard of non y2k compliant algae,or are you being silly?

-- Mark Hillyard (, February 24, 1999.

Strewth, Craig! We're not talking Louisiana bayou here, this is a huge canal with many electronically-operated locks, traffic control, radar, patrol vessels, the works. It's the only maritime short-cut from east to west.

-- Old Git (, February 24, 1999.

1920's technology. Get real. Ships will pass whether or not the billing system works.

-- Paul Davis (, February 24, 1999.

Mr. Davis,

The blatancy of your ignorance is exceeded only by your arrogance in supposing that nobody will call you on your assertion that the Canal is using 1920s technology. Kindly improve your mind (if that is possible) by perusing the following:

Use of Satellite Tracking in the Efficient Management of Vessels Transiting the Panama Canal

A GPS-based tracking and navigation system is being developed jointly by the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center and the Panama Canal Commission (PCC) as part of a major project to enhance the vessel traffic management system of the Panama Canal. To achieve maximum utilization of the Canal, regular, accurate, and reliable knowledge of location is necessary not only for transiting vessels but also for the PCC resources supporting the transits. PCC resources include tugboats, launches, land-based personnel vehicles, and emergency vehicles. Additionally, the tracking information will support an automated vessel and resource scheduling system being developed concurrently in a joint effort by the Volpe Center and the PCC.

The operational Vessel Tracking and Navigation (VTAN) System will track vessels intending to use the Canal hours in advance of their arrival at the anchorages. Project engineers anticipate that, before vessels begin a transit, light-weight mobile units equipped with a differential GPS (DGPS) receiver, a laptop processor with a display monitor, and digital communications components will be carried on board by PCC personnel. These mobile units will offer PCC pilots - the end users - with critical information for better managing the safe navigation of their vessel. Pilots, for instance, should be able to better control meeting situations and ascertain traffic conditions at any point of the Canal. Additionally, pilots will be provided with real-time information on the availability and/or readiness of support resources needed at critical points in the transit, such as the locks and the Gaillard Cut. This information also will be provided to a shore-side control center, where other PCC personnel can obtain, evaluate, and disseminate all of the information needed for timely management of the traffic in the waterway.

The following describes in an overview manner the prototype VTAN system being installed this summer in the Panama Canal by the Volpe Center for Navigation. The main elements of the prototype VTAN are:

Radio-beacon transmitter

DGPS reference station

High-speed ship-to-shore/shore-to-ship data link (UHF band (450 - 470 MHz) and spread spectrum (2.4 GHz) radio technologies are being evaluated in the prototype system.)

Mobile units

Control center

-- Old Git (, February 24, 1999.

Old Git, you sure know how to rain on a parade. Thanks, anyway!

I'm beginning to dislike facts.... (sigh)

Dreams don't seem to be a solution, though.

-- Tom Carey (, February 24, 1999.

I'll disagree with you guys on this one, you're missing the actaul threat because the Clinton doesn't want the media talking about it - the GPS/traffic management is a major convenience/liability rotection against collision factor, but won't stop traiffic. The regular payroll. inventory, and maintenance control (day-to-day operations) ar eas likely to be affected as any other third-world country.

But Red China has already made significant inroads into controlling the Panama government, and has bases (excuse me - port facilities) on both coasts regularly visited by Chinese Army/Marine and Navy units. The ties go deeper back to China also. Carville, for example, was media consultant for the latest Chinese-backed candidate, but I don't know whether his greoup won or not. Carter signed away the canal via treaty, we could argue whether that Democratic was right or wrong, but certainly he did not at the time anticipate China politically getting control of the government that controls the canal physically.

Will they shut it down? Of course not - until it suits their needs politcally and economically in some future event. Remember, the threat to shut down can be applied individually to different ships (belonging to different countries) and so does not need to be "visible" threatening to outsiders.

The result, one country or another, suddenly finds it has to support Red China, or lose its rights to our canal.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 24, 1999.


You wrote "Never heard of non y2k compliant algae,or are you being silly?"

No, I'm deadly serious here. Non-compliant algae is a major problem which could crash the Panamanian saltwater ecosystem. Albeit, the embedded chips are quite simple and many don't actually process a date field, those that do could cause considerable damage.

If you don't believe me, ask Robert Cook. I'm sure he can collaborate and give you a similiar example of how the non-compliant coral reefs actually threaten to interrupt ship to shore signals of large sea vessels, likely causing ships to be lost at sea or even crashing into one another.

-- Craig (, February 24, 1999.

No - no - no. Non-compliant coral reefs tend to interrupt ship-shore movement of ships, not signals, as they rather permanently remove things like rudders, propellers, hullplates, frmes, etc. Compliant coral reefs (like compliant algea such as sperm whales and kelp) are more liberal (hence flexible) in their views, and so just act like wishy-washy Senators and slime out of the way to avoid making waves.

Now, if enough non-compliant coral interupts too much ship-shore ship traffic, the resulting debirs left above the high-water mark may reflect ship-shore signals sufficiently to interupt ship-shore radio traffic, but that's a cow of a different color. And we will let sleeping dogs lie as they chase sheep over the resident-in-chief's fence .

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 24, 1999.

oh Craig - before I forget - most ships are in fact "lost at sea."

That's because those that are "lost at land" tend to be found rather quickly. They stick out in traffic, and people are always willing to give a 900' freighter directions to the nearest 7-11.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (Kennesaw, GA) (, February 24, 1999.

Lost at sea huh..........Well how do you explain the gunfight at the old coral?

Could it then be said, that a fat guy who has never been to sea can safely be called a landblubber?

-- Craig (, February 24, 1999.

I agree with Old Git. The Panama Canal is a hell of a lot more than just a canal. Very huge, very sophisticated. Even though the Panamanians can't wait to get control of it, I think they will be asking for help very soon, just like Russia did for their nukes.

-- da man (, February 24, 1999.

Hey Old Git...slow down a little. The only connection between GPS and y2k is power for ground-based receivers. The tracking systems to be installed on ships and the base stations/operating systems are new and there has never been a y2k issue with GPS receivers.

Power, as always, is the key to facility operations like the Panama Canal.

-- PNG (, February 24, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ