Lighter Aboard Ships (LASH) is a type of ship which can carry other ships, especially lighter barges.
Lighter barges are those kinds of barges that are laden with cargo, but cannot be operated on their own. As a result these barges are placed over the lash vessels and then are towed onto their intended position or to other cargo vessels waiting for their cargo load.
The concept of LASH – Lighter Aboard Ships – was introduced in the 1960s by an American marine engineering pioneer Jerome Goldman. The main reason behind the vessels’ invention was to tackle the ever-growing increase in the requirement of cargo containers which were in their nascent stages of development at that point of time.
The main areas of movement of lash barges are in smaller and narrower water parts where bigger vessels cannot enter. In order to aid feasibility of the unloading of the barge from the cargo vessel, the lash vessel is equipped with cranes and derricks. These cranes and derricks help in lading and unloading processes of the barges from the lash ships.
Features and Advantages of LASH Ships
- A lash vessel streamlines the process of cargo lading and unloading
- This ship’s main operational area is the transportation of the lighter barges. As such there is no conflict of functionality at any point of time
- These ships were regarded as the most advanced vessels at the time of their introduction
- As compared to the other ships, the lash vessels spend a majority of their time being operational on the required water areas
Over the years there have been several developments in the concept of cargo ship.
Various innovators have come up with their own unique ideas to make the vessel more compatible with the modernised times.
- The Sea Bee concept involved a support structure, know being immersed under the surface of the water so that the lash barges could be placed atop this structure and then later on transferred to the cargo ship. The vessels that function as Sea Bee vessels can, in addition to being used as Lighter Aboard Ships, also be utilised tanker vessels.
- The Barge-Catamaran (BACAT) technology involved the development of a similar cargo vessel but with the specific objective to transport lighter barges in the water network between Britain and the northern part of the European continent.
A major distinguishing factor between these two technologies is that the Barge-Catamaran can only be utilised to carry lighter weight lighter barges.
Lash vessels are still being used extensively and are quite in vogue in the shipping industry. However, the cost involved in their operation is a huge factor that needs to be considered by operators. The cost factor working appropriately, then the deployment of the cargo ships can be considered as being hugely successful.