West Coast Barges

 

July 1, 2019

For transportation purposes, barges being built to a Capilano design in China will be stacked, smaller on larger, while they are transported back to BC. Photo courtesy of Captain Neil Johnston of the towing vessel TeraSea Falcon.

Capilano Maritime Design Ltd., located in North Vancouver, BC, is a full-service naval architecture and marine engineering design company. The company works on a wide range of projects, including workboats including tugs, barges, crewboats, marine construction vessels, and ferries.


In the barge sector, this year, Capilano Maritime designed four of its Skeena Class Flat Deck Barges for Shipbroker Seabridge Marine Contractors Ltd., who is having them constructed in China for several different local owners. Typically, the barges are used to carry aggregates such as sand and gravel and other general purpose cargo that is transported along BC waterways such as the Fraser River, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.

Capilano Maritime Design Ltd., located in North Vancouver, BC, is a full-service naval architecture and marine engineering design company. The company works on a wide range of projects, including workboats including tugs, barges, crewboats, marine construction vessels, and ferries.

In the barge sector, this year, Capilano Maritime designed four of its Skeena Class Flat Deck Barges for Shipbroker Seabridge Marine Contractors Ltd., who is having them constructed in China for several different local owners. Typically, the barges are used to carry aggregates such as sand and gravel and other general purpose cargo that is transported along BC waterways such as the Fraser River, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver Island.

The barges range in size from 60 and 61 meters in length to 73, 80, and 86 meters; the 86 meter barge being a heavy deck barge. For transportation purposes, the smaller barges will be stacked on the larger barges, while they are transported back to BC. Besides the Skeena Class Barges, Capilano Maritime has also purpose-designed Seymour Class Split Hopper Barges, the Squamish Class Wood Chip Barges, and the Mackenzie Class Oil Barges. Conversion designs have also been completed; for example, converting a wood chip barge back to a flat deck aggregate-carrying barge by making changes to the box wall size.

Design trends have changed over the years, according to President Chris Mulder, with the need for stronger deck strengths to support larger front-end loaders.

"The more powerful and higher wheel load and capacity loaders, the larger rating you need on the decks," he says. Additionally, Mulder adds that Capilano Maritime also produce crane charts specifically for cranes and barges; some have cranes such as ringers built onto barges, while others have portable cranes such as crawlers. "The work involves making sure there is enough crane capacity and stability to ensure safe operations," he says.


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Using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to optimize hull efficiency on barges may not seem obvious. But as the team at the Seattle-headquartered naval architecture and marine engineering company Hockema Whalen Myers Associates (HWMA) found out, a significant cost savings can be accomplished, particularly on long haul barges.

The company has been focusing on using CFD to analyze hull resistance and hull form. "It's something that hasn't really been done much, if at all, on barges," says HWMA's Senior Principal, Michael Whalen. "We've found we can reduce the resistance of a hull between 10 percent and 50 percent depending on the barge you're comparing it to."

Most barges travel at fairly low speeds, so the wave-making portion of resistance isn't a huge amount but it can still be optimized significantly. In preparing the design for the 438-foot-long barge Namakani, built by Gunderson Marine, the team ran over 1000 different variations of hulls to find the one that produced the best results. "At the time we did that analysis, we weren't sure we could believe the results," says Whalen. "We did a model test to confirm it." The Namakani was built for Sause Bros. who provide shipping and towing services throughout the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii.


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Another area of efficiency HWMA has focused on over the past few years has been the use of Hydra-Lift skegs versus traditional skegs, which bring more cost savings to barge-towing owners and operators. This helps barges like Namakani operate at a high enough speed that they can maintain regular service to either Hawaii or Alaska. While HWMA barges operate all over the world, a large percentage of them are operating in Alaska and Hawaii service.

Extending the life span of barges is another part of HWMA's barge design focus. "With the coating systems available on barges today, they're lasting longer than designs from previous years," explains Whalen. "I'd say looking back at the 70s and 80s, barges were designed to last 20 years. Now they can easily last well over 30 years. Because they're lasting so much longer, we've been focusing on what parts tend to fatigue or suffer damage over time. Barges that remain on a particular run for a long period of time may encounter environmental loading in one area repeatedly. We're designing the scantlings for those areas in excess of what the regulations require so that over the 30-plus years of life span, the barge will require less maintenance. It's a small increase in the initial cost, but I think it's a huge reduction over the life of the barge."

HWMA designed a recently-launched barge built for Sause Bros. named Columbia. It's an evolution on the company's 343-foot deck cargo barge design. In terms of industry-wide barge construction activity, Whalen indicates the tide may be turning. "The economy in Alaska has been depressed because of the oil industry but it seems like things are turning around there, so I think there'll be some new barge construction coming up soon."

In 2020, a new US-flagged ATB tank barge will be plying the waters for Overseas Shipholding Group (OSG). Under construction at Gunderson Marine, it is touted be the world's first dual certified as meeting EPA Tier 3 and IMO III emission standards. Pacific Power Group, along with Gunderson recommended the Volvo packages for auxiliary engines to help efficiently power the vessel.

Pacific Power Group will be providing a total of seven Volvo Penta D-13 Tier 3 engines, and Volvo Penta's SCR exhaust aftertreatment system will also be installed on the 575-foot-long barge. It's expected that Gunderson will also being building another barge for OSG next year, with the option of a subsequent third barge to be added to the fleet.

Capilano Maritime produces crane charts specifically for cranes and barges addressing both ringers built onto barges and portable cranes such as crawlers. Photo courtesy of Dynamic Heavy-Lift.

 
 

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