Request a Quote

7 Types Of Barges

types of barges

7 Types Of Barges Used In Maritime Shipping



A barge is a marine vessel built to carry and transport cargo, passengers, and goods through waterways.

Different barges exist, but these shipping vessels are generally long and flat-bottomed. This shape allows them to carry bulkier and high-capacity cargo without performance issues.

Barges cannot function independently and usually need a tow or a tug boat to pull them. They don’t have a motor or engine, but workers can safely pull the barges through lakes, canals, and seaports.

The terms “ship” and “barge” are interchangeable, but there are key differences. Ships are self-propelled, while barges are not. Additionally, barges can’t be used for transport across international bodies of water, like oceans or seas.

Different types of barges vary according to size and cargo capacity. Some vessels can be 200 feet long with a cargo carrying capacity of over 500 tonnes.

This guide discusses the different types of barges and their uses.


1. Inland Barges


Inland barges are built to travel on small and narrow bodies of water, like rivers, canals, lakes, and bays. They’re considered the most cost-effective form of transport, as they can carry oversize, high-density, or high-volume cargo.

Inland barges are often used as an alternative to truckload and railroad shipping. This applies to cases wherein the load cannot be transported solely via these methods.


2. Deck Barges


As the name suggests, deck barges carry and transport cargo on deck. Various deck barges exist, each varying in structure and size.

Deck barges can carry different types of cargo, such as construction equipment, fabrication materials, rocks, pallets, or even live animals. They may also carry liquid cargo stored in watertight containers to avoid contamination and spills.

Since deck barges are also designed for construction support, they may also carry workers and different types of machinery. Some deck barges have elevated rake decks and may be categorised according to capacity, dead weight, and load marks.


3. Hopper Barges


Hopper barges sport a double hull construction. A double hull means two layers or hulls protect the vessel from the water. The added protection allows the ship to remain buoyant.

Hopper barges can efficiently transport a range of materials in bulk. Here are some examples:

  • Aggregates
  • Timber
  • Coal
  • Grain
  • Sugar
  • Ore
  • Metals

A hopper barge comes in a boxed shape, with either a double or single hull build. Depending on the type of cargo, they may also be open or covered. Covering provides all-weather resistance and can be telescoped or stacked on the equipment.


4. Spud Barges Or Crane Barges


Spud barges are often moored or attached through sheet piles or steel shafts, hence the term “spud”. This barge type comes in a boxed stern for optimal buoyancy while undergoing crane operations.

With a sturdy build and durable construction, spud and crane barges can carry various equipment, most notably cranes. Additional bulkheads, frames, or trusses are added under the working deck to support the heavy load.

Spud barges are mainly considered as work platforms. This function is possible through the heavy-duty deck, which offers a stable ground and even distribution for different construction activities.

Spud barges can be placed in any location offshore, including coastlines, rivers, or lakes. They are commonly used for:

  • Crane work
  • Marine operations
  • Demolition jobs
  • Pipeline building and repair
  • Heavy equipment transport


5. Liquid Mud Barges


Liquid mud barges come in two deck-level bin tanks to increase compartment capacity. They have onboard piping and pumping systems capable of circulating and discharging fluids in remote factories.

These barges are mainly featured in inland oil well drilling sites but can also service land-based facilities. Liquid mud barges also provide additional storage and transport for bulk cargo.


6. Shale Barges


Shale barges carry shale and other non-hazardous oilfield waste material. The maritime industry interchangeably refers to shale barges as deck or hopper barges. They contain stabilising bulkheads in the cargo compartment.

Maritime activities require shale barges when workers can’t throw shale cuttings (from drilling activities) overboard due to environmental concerns.

Instead, a processing company will dispose of the materials, subject to rules and regulations.


7. Ocean Barges


Ships that cannot head to the port because of shallow water need ocean barges or ocean going barges. This type of barge assists in direct cargo transport onto land.

Like the other types of barges on the list, ocean barges come in a heavy-duty construction to protect the cargo. However, they’re much heavier than other barges, making them more costly to build, tow, and maintain.

Ocean barging adapts to high-volume activities, such as:

  • Large-diameter pipe transport
  • Heavy equipment transport
  • Pre-fabricated oil production facility building

Due to the potential hazards that may result from these uses, ocean barges must have a specialised design. Equipment such as lorry cranes and crawler cranes are often utilised to handle the loading and unloading of heavy and bulky cargo, ensuring safe and efficient loading and unloading processes.


Conclusion About The Types Of Barges


With several types of barges used in the maritime industry, choosing one that best fits your needs can be challenging. You must ensure the vessel is sturdy enough to support the weight of different cargo types and other equipment.

For instance, crane barges are the ideal choice if you’re transporting a construction crane. But, shale and ocean barges are more suitable for oil rigging activities.

For more information on the types of barges and their uses, contact us at Pollisum through WhatsApp or by phone at +65 67557600 . We offer different kinds of heavy equipment and transport vehicles in Singapore.

From lorry cranes, crawler cranes, mobile cranes and trailers to tugboats and barges, we provide the right equipment for your cargo moving or lifting needs.


Frequently Asked Questions About The Types Of Barges


Since barges don’t have any engine or motor, they cannot run on their own. Instead, they move on water through towboats or tugboats. The speed depends on the tugboat’s horsepower, and other external factors such as water and weather conditions.

Crawler cranes are essential in the maintenance and operation of heavy-duty barges, such as ocean barges. Their stability and lifting capacity make them suitable for moving large and heavy cargo items onto and off the barge. Crawler cranes are also used for assembling and disassembling prefabricated structures transported by these barges, providing a reliable solution for managing heavy and bulky materials.

Considering all conditions are normal, a barge can travel 10 or 11 feet underwater. But barge lines can't be loaded at more than 8 feet if there is a severe drought.

The carrying capacity of a barge depends on its size. Figuring out the barge’s weight capacity is crucial before renting one for your maritime needs.

Yes, lorry cranes are particularly useful for unloading cargo from barges in remote locations. Their mobility allows them to be easily transported to different sites, providing a flexible and efficient solution for handling cargo directly from the barge to the desired location. This is especially beneficial for projects in areas without permanent lifting equipment, ensuring that operations can continue smoothly and safely.