A barge is a type of vessel which is mainly used for the purpose of carrying cargo. However, the most important part about barges is the fact that they are not independent boats or vessels. They have to be tugged or towed along by other naval vessels in the water. Barges are mostly used in smaller water parts like rivers, lakes or canals; however they are now used extensively at sea ports.
A barge is flat-shaped on its bottom, just like a raft. The main reason for this particular shape is to ensure that the cargo-carrying capacity is enhanced and more bulk can be hauled and transferred.
Barges have been a presence in the modern world right before the time of the industrial revolution. Prior to the Industrial Revolution in Europe, marine barges were used as the main method of transportation to ferry cargo across places connected by small water bodies. But post the Industrial Revolution and the invention of the steam engine and consequently trains, the demand for barges as cargo-transporters started to reduce because of speed constraints.
In contemporary times, however, marine barges can still be found because of the way they have evolved as an important tool of utility.
Types of Barges
The different types of barges can be elaborated as follows:
- Barracks Barge: A barracks barge is also known as houseboat. Houseboats are a very common site in places like Cambodia, North India (Kashmir), Laos, Australia and Canada. As the name suggests, these types of barges are mainly used for residential purposes and look very eye-catching while they float as stationary objects in rivers and lakes.
- Dry Bulk Cargo Barges: These types of barges, as their name suggests, are used to haul and ferry dry cargo. When the aspect of dry cargo is considered, it includes food grains, sand, minerals like steel and coal and other dry commodities that can be transferred through the system of barges.
- Barges Carrying Liquid Cargo: These types of barges are completely opposite to the dry bulk cargo barges. These barges are very useful in carrying petrochemicals, fertilizers that are used mainly in the liquid state, and other necessary important industrial liquid chemicals.
- Car-float Barges: This type of marine barge was mainly used during the early 20th century to ferry rail carts. In simple terms it can be said that these rail-carts attached to the barges were like portable rail-sets ferried from one location to another. In today’s times, car-float barges, still function in some parts of United States of America.
- Split Hopper Barge: This unique barge is used for carrying dredged material. The split hopper barge is extensively used in marine construction purpose as it can unload the material (Soil, sand, dredged material, etc.) at the site. The barge can be self-propelled type fitted with a hydraulic motor and cylinder unit to split open the hull.
In addition to these types of barges, there are also other varieties of marine barges like the power barge which is used as a portable power plant. There are also Royal Barges which operate mainly during ceremonies by royals or monarchs in nations where the monarchy is still notably present like in the United Kingdom.
A barge is a very important application in maritime technology. With the help of marine barges the cargo-carrying problem can be reduced to a great extent. As there are many variants of the apparatus, the problem of choice is also solved. As per the need and requirements, one can utilize the most fitting barge as an effective cargo-carrier and thereby ensure complete safety of the goods and items transported.