Kiel Canal

(redirected from Nord-Ostsee Kanal)
Also found in: Dictionary.

Kiel Canal,

artificial waterway, 61 mi (98 km) long, in Schleswig-Holstein, N central Germany, connecting the North Sea with the Baltic Sea. At sea level, the canal extends from Kiel on the Baltic to Brunsbüttelkoog at the mouth of the Elbe River. Locks at each end of the canal minimize tidal variation. Built (1887–95) to facilitate movement of the German fleet, the Kiel Canal was widened and deepened from 1905 to 1914. Large oceangoing ships can pass through the canal. Because of its great military and commercial importance the canal was internationalized by the Treaty of Versailles (1919), though its direct administration was left with the Germans. Hitler repudiated its international status in 1936, but free navigation in the canal was returned after World War II. The canal is also known as the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal, for William II of Germany, and as the North Sea-Baltic Canal (Ger. Nord–Ostsee–Kanal). Today the canal is a major passage for shipping in the Baltic region.

Kiel Canal


(also the Kaiser Wilhelm Canal), a maritime shipping canal linking the Baltic and North seas. It crosses West Germany between Kiel Bay and the Elbe estuary (from Holtenau to Brunsbüttelkog). The canal, which was built between 1887 and 1895, is open to merchant ships of all nations. It is 98.7 km long, 104 m wide at water level, and 44 m wide at the bottom. Its navigable channel is approximately 11.3 m deep. There are wider points along the canal to permit passing of ships in mid-channel. Locks at both entrances neutralize tidal changes. Work to modernize the canal is currently under way.

In 1969, 80,000 ships of 42.9 million tons net displacement passed through the canal; of that total, 28,000 ships of 27.6 million tons net displacement belonged to foreign powers. Cargo moving from west to east consists predominantly of piece goods, petroleum, petroleum products, ferrous metals, ores, and coal. Freight moving from east to west consists of piece goods, timber, coal, petroleum, and petroleum products. The Kiel Canal is 685 km shorter than the route through the straits of Denmark around Jutland Peninsula.