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Barges... Barges... Barges - Spring 2000

Barges are the workhorses of towing industry, hauling millions of tons of various cargoes both offshore and through the river systems of almost every continent. It is more efficient to move cargo by water than land and more companies are transporting containers and rolling stock by barge even for short distances in congested waterfront cities. On the Mississippi River system a single 195 'x 35', 1500dwt hopper barge can carry the equivalent of fifteen 100 ton railroad cars or fifty-eight 26 ton trucks. One towboat can push as many as 35 - 40 barges.

Non-propelled barges range from under 10' for sectional units up to almost 1,000' in length. While normally built out of steel, we have over the years listed concrete, aluminum and wooden hulls. At the top of the range are the 25,000dwt + submersible and launch barges for ocean transport of floating equipment such as drilling rigs, drydocks and dredging equipment. The largest built to-date is the 139,694dwt, 852' x 207' x 34' launch barge "H-851". Owners had an option for building the "H-1001", a 1000' long launch barge, but do to declining market never exercised their option.

In the United States there are a total of 23,327 freight and 3,705 tank barges registered with the U.S. Coast Guard with probably another 10-15,000 undocumented. The oldest registered freight barges are 90' and 150' built in 1894, although no doubt there are older in service whose records were lost in history. There are no reliable records of the total number of barges worldwide, but we estimate well over 250,000 in service with some probably close to 150 years of age.

Following is a breakdown of documented freight and tank barges from the U.S. Coast Guard database.

Length Under 100' 100' -200' 200' - 300' 300' - 400' 400' - 500' 500-600' Over 600' Length
Tank Barges
Avg. Age 1977 1974 1977 1977 1981 1974 1980
Freight Barges
Avg. Age

Barges are the "bread and butter" for Marcon International. We track 2,698 barges worldwide with 850+ available for sale ranging from 15' x 10' sectional units to a 600' x 156' x 38' launch barge with 60,760dwt capacity.

Flat deck barges carry cargoes on deck such as containers, gravel, construction equipment, multi-million dollar project cargoes and rolling stock. Of 1,373 deck barges in our database, 460 are for sale with 222 foreign flagged and 238 U.S. 67.8% for sale are direct from Owners. Most popular sizes are from 120' - 275' in length. Ages range from 1915 to new construction with an average year built of 1977. Most are single deck, although there are house, double and triple deck ro/ro barges in service with some even for sale. Marcon is inviting offers through 01 May for a U.S. flag, ocean 400' x 105' double decked ro/ro trailer barge built in '83. On the new construction side, Gunderson Inc. recently launched the 343' x 94' x 21' "Alaska Trader" which is the last in a series of three ocean container barges built for Pacific Trade LLC. The fast-towing barge will trade between the Pacific Northwest Coast and Alaska and was the largest of its type to be built on the West Coast in more than a decade.

Hopper barges carry dry bulk cargoes such as grains, coal. ore or packaged goods in one or more cargo holds similar to a ship and can be either covered or open without hatch covers. We have 218 hopper barge files with 39 foreign and 43 U.S. for sale with 57.5% direct from Owners. This does not reflect the exact number of barges as some files include up to 25 in a single bloc. Average age of hopper barges listed for sale is 1973 with the oldest on the market built in 1945 and oldest in our files being a 350' barge built in 1928. Hopper barges are regularly used for storage of dry bulk in addition to the freight trade and we have three 450'+ barges suitable for this service.

Barges For Sale

Length Under 100' 100' - 200' 200' - 300' 300' - 400' 400' - 500' 500' - 600' Over
Deck Barges
Hopper Barges

Tank barges have been built from about 40' to over 600' with capacities from under 18,000 gal. to over 17,500,000 gallons (417,000bbl) of liquid cargo. Of 415 tank barges on file, 109 are for sale with 34 foreign flagged. The oldest for sale was built sixty-eight years ago and the largest we now have listed is an ocean barge with a capacity of 205,744Bbl. The oldest registered tank barge in the U.S. was built in 1898 (most likely not OPA'90 approved). Most petroleum barges in service are still single skin, but in the U.S. and many other countries these are being phased due to government regulations for double skin in the future. Reinauer Transportation has just taken delivery of their 135,000bbl, 460' x 72' double skin ATB tank barge RTC 135 from Alabama Shipyard. The 7200HP, 124' tug Nicole Leigh Reinauer which was built by Alabama Shipyard's sister company Atlantic Marine is connected to the barge by Intercon independently mounted gear driven ram assemblies.

Most barges outside the inland river systems are towed on the hawser. In the 1950's operators began to explore pushing ahead, first with push-knees and simple connecting ropes or wires which only allowed operation in relatively calm seas and later with 10 – 30' shallow or deep notches up to 90' which take about 50% of the tug's length. Use of notched barges and wire connections vs. knees allowed operation in slightly rougher seas, but was not satisfactory for full time operation offshore, so engineers started looking at fixed and articulated mechanical connection systems in the 70's. On the Great Lakes, a number of older ships were converted to notch barges by removing the aft engine room and superstructure. There has also been investment over the last couple of years into new barges to operate on the Lakes and Marcon has sold a number of tugs into this service. Over the years ITB's and ATB's attracted a following from Japan to the United States to the Baltic using systems such as Cattug, Ingram, Intercon, Bludworth, Articouple. In the U.S. ATB's like the RTC-135 above and ITB's have been more popular on the East and Gulf Coasts, but we expect to see several built by West Coast operators within the next five years.

Year 2000 barge sales to-date include the following: Associated Marine Equipment of Reserve, Louisiana purchased the 200' x 60', 2700dwt ocean deck barge "212" from Crowley Marine. The barge, which was built in 1970 by Jeffboat, will be converted to a stevedoring crane. Ellsworth Salvage of New Jersey sold their 150' x 60' x 8' derrick barge "Rig KS-601" to Sterling Equipment of Massachusetts. Barge was built in 1976 and after fitted by in '83 with two 61' spuds and a heavy lift 115' "A"-frame capable of lifting 320 tons at 42' was used on bridge construction & vessel salvage projects. Westview Dredging of British Columbia purchased the 1970 built, 200' x 60' ocean deck barge "215" from Crowley Marine. Chevron USA, Inc. sold their 358' x 68' x 24', ABS ocean tank barge "Lube Quest" (ex "I-51") to Crowley Marine. The 10,119dwt, 89,136bbl petroleum barge was built in 1976 as a caustic soda barge and rebuilt / lengthened in 1990 by Sause Bros. of Oregon to haul lube oil. Barge will continue operating coastwise in the Pacific Northwest transporting clean petroleum products. Crowley Marine sold their 250' x 75' ocean tank barge "254" and 195', 10,000BBL inland tank barge "1" to Mexican Buyers. The 5970stdw "254" was built in 1969 by Gunderson Shipyard, Portland as petroleum barge hauling 49,500BBL. Over the past decade excluding crane and special purpose barges, Marcon has been involved in the sale of 305,407dwt in deck / hopper and 1,601,563bbl in tank barges. Marcon has sales pending on an additional 19,700dwt in ocean deck barges which are expected to conclude within about 45 days.

Marcon International, Inc. P.O.Box 1170, 9 NW Front Street, Coupeville, WA 98239 USA
Phone:360-678-8880 | Fax: 360-678-8890 | email
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