Panama Canal file photo [27424]

Panama Canal

Type   Other
Historical Name of Location   Panama Canal Zone

Contributor:

ww2dbaseThe work on a canal to link the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean began in 1881 by French engineers, but it was halted in 1889 after the project went bankrupt. In 1894, a second French company was formed for this project, but this company would not further the canal building project significantly. In 1903, the United States gained the territory from the newly formed Republic of Panama, a US protectorate, for a one-time cost of US$10,000,000 plus an annual cost of US$250,000. In 1904, the US purchased all equipment, excavations, and the Panama Railroad from the French for US$40,000,000. In 1908, the US Navy requested that the locks across the canal to be increased from 28.5 meters (94 feet) in width to at least 36 meters (118 feet); it was eventually compromised to the width of 33.53 meters (110 feet). In 1913, the Gatun Lake was created by damming the Chagres River; it provided several million gallons of water for the operation of locks, as well as drinking water for nearby cities. After a 10-year effort that cost nearly US$500,000, the canal was completed in 1914. In 1914, about 1,000 ships made the 50-mile transit from one ocean into the other. In 1921, in the interest of safeguarding the canal, the US agreed to pay Colombia (which Panama rebelled against) US$25,000,000 for Colombia to drop its claims on Panama. In 1935, the building of the Madden Dam was completed across the Chagres River above Gatun Lake to provide additional water storage for the canal. In 1939, a project was begun to create a new set of locks that would allow the US Navy to build wider ships, but this project would be canceled after WW2.

ww2dbaseJust prior to the US entry into WW2, Caribbean Defense Command was given the responsibility of guarding the entire territory. When the tension with Japan mounted, all Japanese ships were forced out of the territory by 22 Jul 1941. When the US entered the war, the strategically-important Panama Canal Zone was defended by anti-torpedo nets and naval mines, chemical smoke generators, anti-aircraft gun positions, two long range radar installations (one on each coast), 634 search lights, 30 aircraft warning stations, 11 16-inch coastal gun batteries. US troops were stationed at Colón, Margarita Island, and Toro Point (Fort Sherman). A great number of Allied warships and various other vessels transited the Panama Canal during WW2. Although hostile submarines did venture near the canal, the canal was never in serious harm.

ww2dbaseAfter the Suez Canal crisis of 1956, the United States pressured France and the United Kingdom to abandon their attempts to take control of the Suez Canal. This was perceived as hypocrisy by Panamanian nationalists for that the US showed no signs of ever wanting to give up the control of the Panama Canal to Panama. With pressure mounting over several decades, in 1977, the Torrijos-Carter Treaties finally provided a road map to transfer the canal to Panama; as a condition, Panama was required to uphold a neutrality over the canal's operations. The transfer was executed on 1 Oct 1979. Toll revenues from the canal immediately became one of Panama's main sources of revenue. In 1999, true full control was given to Panama.

ww2dbaseSources:
John Geoghegan, Operation Storm
Wikipedia



Panama Canal Interactive Map

Panama Canal Timeline

15 May 1889 The French efforts to build a canal across the Isthmus of Panama in Colombia ("Gran Colombia") ceased after the project went bankrupt.
4 May 1904 The United States formally took control of the in-progress Panama Canal.
10 Oct 1913 US President Woodrow Wilson sent a signal from the White House in Washington DC, United States which triggered the explosion that destroyed the Gamboa Dike in the Panama Canal Zone, flooding the Culebra Cut and joining the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
7 Jan 1914 Floating crane Alexandre La Valley became the first self-propelled vessel to transit the Panama Canal.
3 Aug 1914 Cargo and passenger ship Cristobal became the first non-canal-construction vessel to transit the Panama Canal.
14 Aug 1914 Morgan Adams transited the Panama Canal aboard his pleasure boat, and made the first toll payment for the use of the canal.
15 Aug 1914 The Panama Canal officially began its operations. The cargo ship Ancon became the first vessel to transit the canal after the official opening.
25 Jul 1919 USS New Mexico transited the Panama Canal.
20 Jan 1921 USS Arizona passed through the Panama Canal and reached the Pacific Ocean.
22 Feb 1921 USS Arizona passed through the Panama Canal.
28 May 1921 USS R-5 transited the Panama Canal.
7 Feb 1929 USS Arizona passed through the Panama Canal.
28 Jan 1931 USS R-5 transited the Panama Canal.
10 Dec 1937 USS Permit transited the Panama Canal.
25 May 1939 USS Skipjack transited the Panama Canal.
3 Dec 1941 USS Gar reached the Pacific Ocean via the Panama Canal.
17 Jan 1942 USS New Mexico transited the Panama Canal.
11 Jul 1943 USS Yorktown (Essex-class) transited the Panama Canal.
25 Aug 1943 USS Alabama transited the Panama Canal.
7 Jan 1944 USS Iowa transited the Panama Canal.
20 Apr 1944 USS Franklin transited through the Panama Canal.
11 May 1944 USS Franklin transited through the Panama Canal.
4 Sep 1944 USS Ticonderoga transited through the Panama Canal.
25 Sep 1944 USS Astoria transited the Panama Canal and then made port call at Balboa, Panama.
12 Oct 1944 USS Sea Robin transited the Panama Canal.
18 Nov 1944 USS Shamrock Bay transited the Panama Canal.
21 Nov 1944 USS Boarfish transited the Panama Canal.
31 Dec 1944 USS Ancon transited the Panama Canal.
20 Sep 1945 USS Sea Robin transited the Panama Canal.
12 Oct 1945 USS New Mexico transited the Panama Canal.
6 Dec 1945 USS Proteus transited the Panama Canal.
14 Jan 1946 USS Ancon transited the Panama Canal.
7 Sep 1977 Jimmy Carter and Omar Torrijos signed a treaty in Washington DC, United States, agreeing that the Panama Canal, along with the entire Panama Canal Zone territory, would be transferred to the Republic of Panama.
1 Oct 1979 The Panama Canal, along with the entire Panama Canal Zone territory, was given to the Republic of Panama, under the condition that the canal would be operated in a neutral manner.
6 Aug 1984 USS Iowa transited the Panama Canal.
31 Dec 1999 At noon, Panama was no longer bound by treaty to maintain a neutral stance over Panama Canal operations, thus truly gaining full control of the canal.

Photographs

US submarines C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, and C-5 in the Gatun Locks of Panama Canal, circa 1914Panama Canal Zone Administration Building, Balboa, Panama, 1917Battleship USS New Mexico at the Culebra Cut while transiting the Panama Canal, 25 Jul 1919.USS New Mexico in the middle west chamber of Gatun Lock, Panama Canal, 25 Jul 1919
See all 30 photographs of Panama Canal

Maps

Map of the Panama Canal Zone published in 1947 by the US Navy in “Building the Navy




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Modern Day Location
WW2-Era Place Name Panama Canal Zone
Lat/Long 9.0800, -79.6800
Panama Canal Photo Gallery
US submarines C-1, C-2, C-3, C-4, and C-5 in the Gatun Locks of Panama Canal, circa 1914
See all 30 photographs of Panama Canal




Famous WW2 Quote
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