Ship to barge lightering question

Hi, new to the forum and apologies if this is not the appropriate board for this post.

I’m doing a little research into ship to barge operations and I can’t seem to find any information about tanker to [B]unpowered[/B] tank barge lightering activity. Does this not generally occur? I also haven’t found much regarding lightering a tanker using [B]self-propelled [/B]tank barges, but I have at least found it mentioned a few places. Any and all help on this would be greatly appreciated, thanks.

What do you mean by unpowered? If you mean a barge that does not have propulsion and is moved by tug then yes it is done on a regular basis and I could answer any questions that you may have. If by unpowered you mean a small river barge that does not generate its own (electrical) power then absolutely not. I hope this helps.

Barge comes alongside ship, they pump oil from ship to barge. Barge leaves. Repeat if necessary. Happens multiple times a day in multiple locations in the US with unpowered (un-self propelled) barges.

Paul of Hawespiper, the longest climb, works as lead tanker man aboard oil barges in New York. Entertaining insights, check his previous blog entries

I have seen these operations when ships run aground in the Chesapeake Bay. They will bring a barge out from Baltimore and unload cargo until the ship floats free.
The barges are not “powered”, a tug brings them out.

[QUOTE=EbbTide;126782]Paul of Hawespiper, the longest climb, works as lead tanker man aboard oil barges in New York.[/QUOTE]

Why does he call himself a hawsepiper? After reading a few of his rants I think it might be wise to keep a safe distance.

Sounds like he’s a bargeman, hawsepiper in my book means someone working towards a license for the wheelhouse or engine room. Nothing wrong with career unlicensed though as they’re usually the best I’ve ever worked with.

[QUOTE=yacht_sailor;126833]I have seen these operations when ships run aground in the Chesapeake Bay. They will bring a barge out from Baltimore and unload cargo until the ship floats free.
The barges are not “powered”, a tug brings them out.[/QUOTE]

There’s more to power than propulsion my good man. No barge today can transfer liquid without some kind of on board power. There’s hydraulics to run the pumps if they’re discharging, and even if they’re only loading there are still lights, alarm systems, gauging systems, etc… that all need to be powered by something, and it ain’t the tug, I can tell you. Gone are the days of the floating bathtub full of oil. We’re all fancy-fied now! Anyway, if a “barge” has propulsion of its own on board, I don’t really consider it a barge, whatever its shape may be.

When I started writing under the pseudonym ‘hawsepiper,’ that’s what I was doing with my time. I worked on steam tankers for 8 years before switching over to barges. I got my license a while back, but it never seemed to make sense to bother changing the name. I AM a hawsepiper, after all. I’m licensed, but never went to an academy. I started out as a marine scientist an policy analyst, but went to sea when I realized I hated what I was doing and the people I was working for. As Steamer said, though, I do tend to rant. You spend well over 100k on an education in the humanities, hard sciences AND international policy and then realize you were happier working on little fishing boats, and see what it does for your temper.

As far as the original question, jackson, most ship-to-barge lightering is done (in the US) with non self-propelled barges. There are a FEW self-propelled barges around, I think, but I haven’t seen them in the US. There used to be a fleet of them for bunkering around the anchorages at the Panama Canal, and northern Europe was rotten with them. The peculiarities of our maritime commerce, legal environment and infrastructure make ship-to-barge lightering reasonably efficient given the high cost of manning and terminals geared towards smaller parcels and docks. Non-self propelled barges may be manned full time (rather than having the crew live on a tug) or not, have decent living quarters, a cargo office, generators, or just a folding chair on deck, and dedicated pumping systems (usually diesel engines running to a geared screw-type impeller pump connected to a pipeline that feeds all the tanks on board) for discharging the oil. The type and complexity is based on the needs of the folks involved.

Self-propelled barges were an end-run around expensive manning and restrictive regulations affecting ships. They truly have no prime movers dedicated to propulsion- rather, they rely on a low-geared PTO-drive or hydraulic pump on both sides of their pump engines- The forward PTO would run to the cargo pump drive, and the after PTO would run to a z-drive unit or v-drive to power a gearbox in front of a short prop shaft underdeck, running to a propeller. Like the old ITB units, they are not a great substitute, but they get you around construction and manning regs… that being said, the whole idea is to have a small crew and a cheap-to-build,maintain and keep in compliance vessel to save money. Work hour restrictions then become an issue, as does the cost of lay time and lost time… the few self-propelled bunker barges I saw were not very good at seakeeping, maneuvered horribly, and were not very big… I believe that there is an economy of scale issue, as well with the need to have the cargo pump engine also be the prime mover. You would have to use the same engine to power both units, otherwise it WOULD be a prime mover, and then become a ship.

Hope this helps.


Thanks for the many answers. Very helpful.

Regarding the ship-to-barge operations, is this generally accomplished while underway or while anchored, or either?

Regarding AIS, I know you can go onto some of these AIS tracking websites, but I don’t generally see barges on there. Do barges have AIS transceivers? If the barge doesn’t have an AIS transceiver, how does it indicate position, etc, to avoid collisions and the like? I would think that would be a bit risky to put a barge in the middle of ship traffic without a way to indicate its presence. Obviously they can LOTDW, but I’ve seen quite a number of incidents lately where some of these young guys just rely on the electronics to tell them what to do and they collide with something. Or does the tug indicate via its AIS messages that there is also a barge present?