Ship Tunnel
April 19, 2013 2:22 PM   Subscribe

According to this article the Norwegians are planning on building the worlds first ship tunnel. I'm curious how a ship tunnel differs from a canal tunnel. I don't thinks the size matters since the Rove Tunnel is longer than the proposed Norwegian tunnel and nearly as wide. A friend argued that a ship tunnel is connected to the Ocean and consequently subject to tides whatnot. I don't find this persuasive since the Rove tunnel connects to the Mediterranean. What is the difference between a ship tunnel and canal tunnel that allows to claim they are making the first ship tunnel?
posted by Confess, Fletch to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This seems to be answered in the BBC article you linked to, where it says this:
[...]compares the ship tunnel to existing canal tunnels, the only difference being scale and the resulting expense involved in drilling out and disposing of such sizeable rock spoils.
posted by Joey Joe Joe Junior Shabadoo at 2:28 PM on April 19, 2013

I think depth (or possibly height) is the important dimension here. Apparently the Rove Tunnel you mentioned is only 12 feet deep. The Norwegian tunnel will be 148 feet high, although it's unclear how much of that is underwater. Also, when I think canal, I think barges, which are comparatively shallow draft. I don't think many ships could fit through a canal tunnel.
posted by gueneverey at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2013

Says in the article it'll be a 12 foot deep channel and 148 feet high (assuming from water level). So yeah I think it's totally just a scale thing as alluded to in the article. Also mentioned is that engineeringly it's not that unique a project just cost wise is what has kept it from happening in the past..
posted by edgeways at 4:18 PM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ships don't go on canals.
posted by pompomtom at 8:35 PM on April 19, 2013

Ships definitely do go on canals, c.f. the Panama canal and the Suez canal. Those canals are pretty big, so the size argument here isn't completely obvious to me.
posted by emilyw at 4:46 AM on April 20, 2013 [2 favorites]

A ship tunnel will need to accommodate ships, which are a much larger class of boat than a canal barge, and their draft (the amount of boat under the water) is much bigger. So they need a deeper channel. They're very different kinds of boats.

Also this tunnel will be nowhere near the Mediterranean. It's between the Norwegian Sea and the North Sea so tides are very much a factor. I wonder if they'll use lock gate control at either and to account for that.
posted by Brockles at 7:14 AM on April 20, 2013

This is overthinking a plate of beans, IYAM. The actual difference is only of interest to regional boosters, certain experts in the field, and a small contingent of Wikipedia editors. Consider that for the longest time the "tallest building" was just a vague claim that was made until the building of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which created a slightly sticky issue of definition for (possibly) the first time; at this point, the Committee on Tall Buildings and the Urban Habitat, until then an obscure group of architects, declared themselves the authority and came up with a four-part definition, of which Petronas (I think) met two, Sears Tower one, and some other structure the fourth. Or look at the distinction the IAU drew between planets and dwarf planets, "demoting" Pluto in the minds of some, but a necessary adaptation to new discoveries. You could easily imagine something similar for tunnels if there exists a Committee on Tunnels.

We can make some surmises here and speak our minds, of course, but I don't think we'll be able to actually set the definition or distinction you want. For instance, both Panama and Suez are ocean-to-ocean canals, but one is at sea level and the other uses locks, making them quite different in key ways. It's almost always possible to add exceptions that make something the "first".
posted by dhartung at 12:58 AM on April 21, 2013

Quite right emilyw, I'm an idiot.
posted by pompomtom at 5:48 AM on April 21, 2013

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