The Panama Canal connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The landmass is slightly above the mean sea level, which creates the need to lift the vessel upto 26 meters above mean sea level. As the vessel is lifted and after reaching the other end of the canal, it has to be dropped down to the mean sea level, to enable the ship continue its sea passage. To facilitate the lifting and dropping of the vessel, Lock Gates are provided.
The Lock Gates are located at 3 different places over the length of the canal. Entering the canal from pacific ocean, we have
1. Miraflores lock gates,
2. Pedro Miguel lock gates,
3. Gatun lock gates.
The locks are in 6 steps. Three locks lifting the ship up and three locks dropping the ship back to sea level. Eack lock has two lock chambers, thus enabling two way transit of ships, reducing the traffic at the canal. These lock gates lift the ship literally upto 26 meters above the sea level.
Looking at the picture, when entering the canal from Atlantic ocean side, we have three Gatun locks, which lifts the ship up 26 meters in 3 steps. Once the ship is lifted up, it reaches the Gatun Lake, which is a fresh water lake supplying water to the lock chambers, enabling the ships to be lifted up and dropping down. Then comes the Pedro Miguel locks, where it has one step, lowering the ship down. The ship transits through The Miraflores Lake, entering the Miraflores locks which again lowers the ship by two steps, thus reaching the Pacific Ocean. As we can see in the picture, two ships transit through lock gates. The two lock chambers accommodates two ships, in a lock gate.