A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, especially built for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Barges these days are actually used to transport low-value bulk items as the cost of hauling goods by barges are cheaper.
But these barges are no longer large enough to keep up in the shipping industry, as they are now larger and new vessels available for transport.
A typical barge measures 195 by 35 feet (59.4Â mÂ Ã— 10.6Â m) and can carry up to 1,500 tons of cargo. Other than barges, the different types of shipping vessels that are used are Container Ships, Bulk Carriers and Tankers. All in all they serve the same purpose of carrying cargo, goods, materials sometimes-even vehicles or people from one port to another.
A classic barge is very similar to a very large raft. In many cases, a barge is un-powered, and has to be moved with the assistance of a tugboat. In this situation, the captain and first mate are aboard the tugboat, not the barge, as the tugboat is providing the power and steering for the barge.
On self powered barges, the crew includes a captain and first mate to steer the boat and manage the crew, and a small superstructure is usually mounted on the rear of the barge.
How are barges used in shipping?
Barges need the help of tug boats to be towed from one place to another. These tugboats are strongly built and powerful for their size. The first few generations of tugboats had steam engines but the modern ones, which are being used today, use powerful diesel engines.
Other than barges tugboats can assist to move vessels that cannot move themselves or does not have a propulsion system, such as ships in a tight spot like a narrow canal or just a disabled ships.
Some of these tugboats are deployed as icebreakers or even salvage boats. And some tugboats even act as lifesavers; they actually assist in putting out fires that may occur in the harbors and so on. These lifesaving tugboats are equipped with firefighting monitors and fire hoses.
There are two types of tugboats i.e. they are river tug boats and harbor tug boats. While harbor tug boats operate in harbors, river tug boats cannot deploy in the sea, due to the design which do not suit for sea operations.
Harbor tugboats are also capable of maneuvering in any direction and can also produce steam force. Even though some barges need help of these tug boats, others do not require the assistance from tug boats and are known as self propelled barges. However they are mostly used in calm waters for traveling up stream or down stream.
Barges are the most fuel-efficient mode of transport for cargo and other things in inland water ways and near harbors. It reduces air pollution as it gets rid of the need of using so many trucks to transport what one barge can actually transport.Â Thus, it’s an efficient and cost-saving option in the shipping business.