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Iowa Class Battleships Are The Widest Ships To Ever Use The Panama Canal

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Now that's a tight fit! The image above depicts the decommissioned USS Iowa's final transit through the Panama Canal on March 28, 2001. The Iowa Class Battleships were the widest ships to ever traverse the canals, with a beam of 108 feet against the canal's width of just 110 feet, leaving only inches to spare on either side.


The Iowa Class Battleships have used the Panama Canal since their commissionings during WWII, as they were built in New York and Philadelphia but were all destined for the Pacific Theater.

Ships designed around 'Panamax' standards have to be 106 feet and under. As a result, America's last battleships will hold their nail-biting record until the 'New Panamax' project is completed sometime around 2016.

Tyler Rogoway is a defense journalist and photographer who maintains the website Foxtrot Alpha for You can reach Tyler with story ideas or direct comments regarding this or any other defense topic via the email address