5 things you didn’t know about Barge in shipping

Barge in shipping

Barges are the vessels that are used for transporting shipments via ocean routes. Most people confuse a barge with an open boat, which is not right. It may look similar to a boat, but both have their up features, types and uses. Unlike a boat, a barge is not an independent vessel, instead, it is a floating vessel that is usually towed along with other vessels. This is just an overview of a barge meaning, keep reading to know other interesting things about this vessel!

Barges are flat bottomed open vessels that are hauled by a boat or a power vessel.

Everything About Barges In Shipping

1. Barges Are Not Independent Vessels

As discussed above, a barge is a floating vessel that is used for carrying cargo. The important thing to notice here is that it is not an independent vessel, meaning it doesn’t move on its own. Instead, it is towed or hauled using a boat or a ship. This is the reason why barges come with a flat bottom which makes it easier for them to get hauled. Furthermore, they are generally used in small water bodies such as lakes, rivers and canals. But now, they are also being used at the seaports.

2. Different Types of Barges

There are numerous types of barges available for a different purpose :

  • Barrack Barge Meaning: Also known as a houseboat and is used for personal purposes in the coastal areas.
  • Liquid Carrying Barge: These barges are used for carrying liquid consignments such as oil, chemicals, etc.
  • Dry Bulk Cargo Barge: As the name suggests, these are used for carrying dry materials in bulk. These are some of the most used barges.
  • Car Float Barge Meaning: These were used in the 20th century to ferry rail carts. 
  • Split Hopper Barge: Used for carrying mainly construction material (soil, cement, sand and dredged material) as they come fitted with convenient unloading tools.
  • Power Barge Meaning: It is a type of moving power plant.
  • Royal Barge Meaning: Used for celebrating royal functions. These barges were used earlier, but they can be still seen in the United Kingdom where the monarchy is prevalent.

3. Capacity and Size of Barges

Floating vessels or barges are generally available in a variety of sizes and capacities. Thus, they can be used for a wide range of transportation requirements. The size of barges is measured in feet, which starts from 180 ft and goes upto 230 feet in length. Further, different barges have a different holding capacity which varies according to their length and the type of goods needed to be transported.

4. What Are Barges Used For?

The flat bottomed cargo carriers or barges are used all over the world. Below are some of the primary uses :

Although barges were mostly used in ancient times, they are still in practice in different regions of the world. Thanks to their usefulness, they did not witness a complete extinction. Barges are successfully used to ship items in bulk in a cost-effective way. These vessels are relatively cheaper than the others. Another reason behind the popularity of barges is their availability of different sizes. They can be employed to transport tons of weight in an easy and hassle-free way.

Here are some other uses :

  • For travelling and exploring in calm water, regardless of their stream, a self-propelled barge can be used. A self-propelled barge can move on its own. Such barges can easily transport any type of liquid or solid cargo.
  • Most of the time, the design of barges is built keeping in mind a particular water body. This means the barge will be used in that water body for all its lifetime. In any case, if the barge is being used on a different waterbody other than the one it is designed for, it can be used only after getting hauled and assisted by a reliable vessel.
  • As mentioned earlier, royal barges can be used for hosting events. These are still used by royal families of the UK for celebrating in the middle of a river or a lake in a luxurious way.
  • Barges are greatly used for transporting coal and grain from one state to another. Such types of barges help in saving a huge chunk of transportation cost.
  • Barges can be used to transport a higher capacity because they can be tugged with other barges just like engines are added to trains.

Learn about the other uses of Barge in shipping.

 5. Barge Meaning – Are Barges Ships?

The one sentence that differentiates barges from ships is – all barges are ships but all ships can never be barged!

Understand that any water vessel having a large size is called a ship. However, a barge is a type of ship that has a flat bottom and may or may not be self-propelled. It mostly depends on a tugboat or halts for its movement. Further, barges are only used for domestic transport.