Last Wednesday, King Willem-Alexander officially opened the world’s largest canal lock in IJmuiden. Congrats on getting that one into the history books! 👏🏻

With over 500 metres in length and 70 metres in width, the new zeesluis is designed to allow modern cargo ships to reach the port of Amsterdam — but also acts as a defence against the threat of flooding.

With sea levels steadily rising, the canal lock is a perfect example of the Dutch demonstrating their famous innovativeness in protecting their flat coasts.

What is a canal lock?

Canal locks are watertight basins, called lock chambers, that can lower or raise water levels as required. They are designed to make waterways more easily navigatable or allow ships to access land that is not level.

Boats and vessels can be lowered or elevated by filling or emptying the lock chamber, permitting the vessel to enter and exit the canal.

The new canal lock

The new structure is called the IJmuiden Sea Lock and is located in the small port city of IJmuiden within the port of Amsterdam. The structure is deep enough so that ships no longer have to wait for adequate water levels to enter the canal.

During the ceremony, King Willem-Alexander officially opened the lock with a mouse click, the NOS reports. While no audience was allowed to be present, waiting ships paid their tribute with a tute of their horns before entering the IJmuiden Sea Lock for the first time.

A delayed work in progress

Although a festive opening by the Dutch king took place last week, the structure was initially set to be completed at the end of 2019. The massive project went over the initially planned budget by close to 300 million euros. 😅

In 2018, the then Minister of Infrastructure, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, decided to increase the project’s budget because of setbacks during the construction. Almost 200 changes and improvements were made to the initial design. Well, better late than never. 🤷‍♀️

Out with the old!

The new canal lock has officially replaced the smaller Noordersluis (Northern lock) that was built in 1929 to connect the North Sea Canal to the port of Amsterdam.

Besides improving accessibility to the port, the structure intends to offer tide-independent space for vessels. The sea lock is also located nine meters above sea level and protects against flooding and rising tides.

The people choose the name

Dutch authorities sought the public’s opinion on naming the world’s new largest canal lock.

After receiving 5000 entries and name suggestions, including funny ones like De Sluizenmoeder” (the Lock Mother), the municipality of Velsen settled on “Zeesluis” (Sea Lock). (We would have gone for Sluizenmoeder, to be honest.)