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Friday, October 8, 2010

Andheri Nagari - What is a barge ??

The vessel “Andheri Nagari” was in the news for wrong reasons (June 2008) Incidentally, this is a barge listed with Singapore Registry of Ships. For those not so well informed, hundreds of barges operate in Goan waters and most of them carry iron ore from different destinations.

Am unsure of its etymology. Suggestively, Andheri is a suburb of Mumbai city and ‘nagri’ in Sanskrit means ‘of the cultured’. Whether the fusion would give correct intended meaning is latin to a Madrassi.

This barge used for transshipment has drifted and environmental, pollution and other multiple hazards are apprehended. The vessel in the eye of a storm probably was sailing without a certified crew. It is feared that the efforts to tow away the embedded transhipper off Caranzalem beach (off Goa) bore no fruits and the Salvors have expressed their inability due to monsoon fury. Though the tug intended for tow had arrived, it had to be anchored outside due rough weather with gutsy winds. Given the barge’s present position on the beach, serious doubts have been cast in refloating the agrounded vessel. The local fisherfolk fear that the barge could cause serious harm to their nets.

There are various types of barges, known by different names such as Barges, Pontoons, Lighters, Flats, Launches and more. There are dry bulk cargo barges, liquid cargo barges, log barges, sand barges, vehicular barges and more. A lighter is a type of flat-bottomed barge used for transfer of goods to and from moored ships. Lightering is the process of transferring cargo between vessels of different sizes, usually between a barge and a bulker or oil tanker. Generally lighters are dumb meaning those which do not have engines and do not move on their own. In Indian Ports like Cuddalore, Krishnapatnam, Kakinada (till recently) – big ships cannot come near the shore due to draft. They would anchor in high seas and cargo would be transferred to big barges and taken to the Port. As the cargo weight reduces, the ship will come nearer the Port. Harbour would have powerful tugs pulling these barges – more than few – in line being towed. Even fishing boats would be employed for towing.

Well, what are Barges ?? Just as we have tankers (think of tanker lorries) – the all pervading water lorries on road, there are vessels which carry bulk carrier. This is an easy means of transportation of huge quantities fuelled by the economic forces. There are very huge ships – bulk carriers designed to maximize capacity, safety, efficiency, withstanding the rigours.

It’s country cousin BARGE is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Most barges are not self-propelled and need to be moved by tugboats towing or towboats pushing them. History has it that early day barges on canals were towed by draft animals on adjacent tow path. Generally, barges are used for low value bulk items, as the cost of hauling goods by barge is very low. These are called dumb barges and are hauled by powerful tugs and in Indian waters many a times by fishing boats. Self propelled barges may be used as such when traveling downstream or upstream in placid waters and operated as an unpowered barge with the assistance of a tugboat when traveling upstream in faster waters.
Whether dumb or self propelled, they can be open or can be closed bodies with opening known as ‘hatch covers’. There are tankers too. Here is a satellite photo of a bulker in a port.
An interesting one – barge carrying external fuel tank of a space shuttle being towed.

Look forward to your feedback
With regards – S Sampathkumar.

PS : this was circulated to my group of friends through e mail on 11/6/2008. Now posted in my blog as I thought the contents to be still relevant.


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