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Welland Ship Canal

Welland Ship Canal

Welland Ship Canal, 27.6 mi (44.4 km) long, SE Ont., Canada, connecting Lake Ontario with Lake Erie and bypassing Niagara Falls. Built between 1914 and 1932 by Canada to replace a canal opened in 1829, it can accommodate (minimum depth 27 ft/8 m) the largest lake ships. Its eight locks overcome a 326-ft (99-m) difference in level between the lakes. The Lake Ontario entrance is near Port Dalhousie; the Lake Erie entrance is at Port Colborne. It is part of the St. Lawrence Seaway system.
A ship canal is a canal especially constructed to carry ocean-going ships, as opposed to barges. Ship canals can be enlarged barge canals, canalised or channelized rivers, or canals especially constructed from the start to accommodate ships.

For a canal to qualify as a ship canal, it must have a minimum depth of at least 5 metres (16.4 feet), although many are much deeper. The purpose of a ship canal is:

  1. To create a shortcut and avoid lengthy detours.
  2. To create a navigable shipping link between two land-locked seas or lakes.
  3. To provide inland cities with a direct shipping link to the sea.
  4. To provide an economical alternative to other options.

List of important ship canals (by length):

'''List of important ship canals by length
canal dimensions location notes
White Sea-Baltic Canal
  • 141 miles (227 km) long
  • 3.5 metres deep

  • Opened in 1933, is partly a canalised river, partly an artificial canal, and partly some natural lakes.
  • Shallow depth limits modern vessels from using the canal.

Rhine-Main-Danube Canal
  • 106 miles (171 km) long
  • lock dimensions: 190m x 11.45m x 4m


Suez Canal
  • 100 miles (160 km) long
  • 300 metres wide


Volga-Don Canal
  • 62 miles (100 km) long
  • lock dimensions: 140m x 16.6m x 3.5m


Kiel Canal
  • 60 miles (98 km) long
  • lock dimensions: 310m x 42m x 14m


Houston Ship Channel
  • 56 miles (91 km) long
  • 161 m wide
  • 14m deep


Alphonse XIII Canal 53 miles (85 km) long


Panama Canal
  • 51 miles (82 km) long
  • lock dimensions: 320m x 33.53m x 25.9 m


Danube-Black Sea Canal 40 miles (64 km) long

  • lock dimensions: 138m x 16.8m x 5.5m


Manchester Ship Canal
  • 35 miles (57 km) long
  • lock dimensions: 170.68m x 21.94m x 8.78m


Welland Canal 28 miles (45 km) long

  • lock dimensions: 225.5m x 2.3m x 8.2 m


Saint Lawrence Seaway
  • lock dimensions: 225.5m x 2.3m x 8.2 m

Canada, USA Links Montreal with Lake Superior.


The standard used in the European Union for classifying the navigability of inland waterways is the European Agreement on Main Inland Waterways of International Importance (AGN) of 1996, adopted by The Inland Transport Committee of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE), which defines the following classes. (This table is incomplete.)

Class Tonnage Draught Length Width
Class III 1,000 t
Class IV 1,350 to 1,500 t 2.5 m 80 m 9.5 m
Class V 2,000 t 2.7 m 95 m 11.5 m
Class VII 14,500 to 27,000 t

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