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    the last issue of Great Lakes Seaway Review had an article about these
    "sea snakes" type of vessel which could be even developed for river use?

    Seasnake LLC: Home

    I thought it interesting the coupling system on how it operates...

    Better than a tow?

    I can see the benefits of this setup in open water, but how would this be better than our tows on the river? Is the power in the rear unit, if so are there thrusters in the bow section, which could make it more manueverable? But if not, I can't see these on the river. By being only one barge wide, the volume of cargo would be significantly less unless the length would be triple that of current tows... On the Rhine, many if not most tows are an integrated power unit and barge, but not a lengthy thing such as this. Since this is from 2004, have any of these units been built and in use by now?


      Nice idea, but similar things have been tried on the rivers before without a great deal of success. There is currently a boat with a truly integrated tow (m/v MISS ANGEL) that pushes 2 barges, the lead barge being a modified jumbo (295x35) with a really long semi-model bow containing a bow thruster. They are still in business, I believe, but it is a niche market in the dry cargo trade.

      The biggest drawbacks I see to units such as presented in the linked article are this: terminals are set up to load and unload barges of a certain size. Not only are the terminals set up this way, but fleets as well, for barges awaiting loading or off-loading. Odd-sized barges are unwelcome and really unwanted at terminals and fleets because the terminals' loading and unloading equipment and tie-offs are not built to the right size and configuration for odd-sized barges or units to come in. This was the case with the super jumbo barges that Florida Power used to barge coal from the Ohio River to powerplants in the Florida panhandle up until about 1995. Those barges are now scattered hither and yon due to the fact that the unloading systems at most powerplants are unable to reach all the coal in the barge. They must then put bobcats or front-end loaders in the barge to push the product to a place the automatic conveyors can pick it up. This takes a lot of time and they'd rather bring in another loaded barge that can be completely unloaded by the automated system.

      Also, unless a tow is made up exclusively of these type and size barges, mates and captains will cuss them no end, as they won't fit with anything else, kind of like the pointed barges that Mississippi Valley Barge Line had in the 1930's for less-than-bargeload lots. Having a dedicated tow of these odd barges limits a carrier's flexibility and thus their profits. It would be a hard sell.


        Bob: And, how long would it take to get it through Markland's 600 foot lock? Cap'n Walnut.


          One thing I've wondered, how would it handle the rolling seas?

          When river barges are brought up to Milwaukee from Chicago on Lake Michigan, they are not pushed, rather "towed"...I think the term is "muletraining"(???) and they are a distance apart as well, in case of rolling seas on the open water of Lake Michigan...