To anyone who sees it for the first time, the Three Gorges ship lift is more like a building than a device.
It has a maximum lifting height of 113 metres, enabling 3,000-tonne ships through. Its caisson and related facilities weigh about 15,500 tonnes, making it the largest and most complex ship lift in the world.
Theoretical research on the ship lift, the final part of the Three Gorges Project, began in the 1950s. Its design was completed in 2007 and trial operation began in September 2016.
The ship lift is built to improve the speed of ships’ dam-passing on the Yangtze River, according to Yu Qingkui, project manager of Three Gorges ship lift from the Changjiang Institute of Survey, Planning, Design and Research (CISPDR), affiliated with the Yangtze River Water Resources Commission. He says it now takes about 50 minutes for a ship of max. 3,000-tonnes to go up or down the ship lift, as opposed to the 3.5 hours it would take using a five-level ship lock.