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New Jersey Scuba Diving


New Jersey Scuba Diving


A barge is a vessel that does not have its own means of propulsion ( usually. ) Barges are towed or pushed from place to place by tugboats, or anchored in place to serve as temporary work platforms, floating docks, or storage. Some barges are self-propelled, in a limited way. These are known as scows, and their limited propulsive power restricts them to protected waters without the assistance of a tugboat.

barge beached
Notice the blocky shape and structure of this stranded but otherwise typical old wooden barge. Barges usually have minimal crews, to tend the lines.

Modern barges come in many forms, for different purposes. A deck barge is designed to carry its cargo on top, on a reinforced deck. Deck barges are also anchored for use as temporary or permanent work platforms and floating docks. A car float barge is a deck barge adapted specifically to transport railroad cars. A crane barge is a deck barge with a crane mounted on it. Deck barges are usually rectangular, very flat and wide.

barge beached
A small steel deck barge belonging to the US Navy that broke away from the pier at Leonardo in a storm and washed up on the beach inside Sandy Hook.

Redbird Subway Cars on barge
A huge steel deck barge loaded with the last 50 Redbird cars.

car-float barge
A car-float barge of the defunct Central Railroad of New Jersey.

car-float barge
"Car floats" are used to transport rail cars around harbors, and still see some use even today.

A tanker barge is decked-over, but is designed to carry liquid cargoes inside, rather than on top. Since tanker barges are used to transport fuels, oils, and even water from point to point, they are designed to be more ship-like than deck barges, for better towing characteristics. Tanker barge decks are usually encumbered with large pipes, valves, pumps, and other plumbing, unlike deck barges which are usually clear of such obstructions.

A hopper barge also carries its cargo inside, loaded directly through the top. It may have cargo hatches or covers to keep out the rain, and does not have a smooth continuous deck. Hopper barges are designed to carry bulk dry cargoes, such as grain or coal. A specialized type of hopper barge is the split hopper barge. This is a hopper barge that can split down its centerline along hinges, dumping its cargo directly into the sea, and then close up again. Split hopper barges are use to dispose of dredge spoils, garbage, and other types of bulk waste.

steel tanker barge
A steel tanker barge, of the type typically used as artificial reefs.

A crane barge is used to unload a hopper barge of concrete rubble for the Artificial Reef Program.

crane barge
An enormous crane barge is held in place in the Manasquan River by two tugboats during the salvage of the sunken clam trawler Michelle K in October 2004.

Split hopper barges
Split hopper barges, partly open.

split hopper dredge Currituck
What looks like a sinking ship is actually the US Army Corps of Engineers split hopper dredge Currituck motoring out of Manasquan Inlet with a full load of sand.

The Currituck was originally built as a split hopper barge, then converted to a fully self-propelled dredge with the addition of what are essentially two huge outboard motors and self-contained sand pumping equipment.

schooner barge
Yet another type of barge-wreck that is extremely common in our waters is the schooner barge. Schooner barges went out of use in the 1940s, but are so common and important as shipwrecks that they merit their own page.

see also: Tugboat

Floating Drydock

Whenever it is necessary to repair or inspect a ship below the waterline, a drydock is called-for. A floating drydock is a specialized form of barge - a semi-submersible structure that can be flooded so that a vessel may enter it, and then pumped out to lift the vessel clear of the water for repairs.

floating drydock
This floating drydock contains a ferry very similar to the Cranford.

A typical design of floating drydock has open ends to allow ships to get in and out, and tall caissons along either side which provide buoyancy while the tanks in the base platform are flooded. The caissons also make good work platforms, and on large drydocks they may even support cranes. Older drydocks were typically built of wood, although newer and larger ones are steel.

A floating drydock like this is easily transportable by tugboat, and there are a number of them off the coast that made only part of their final trip. Others have been used as artificial reefs in both New York and New Jersey.

floating drydock
A drydock barge being sunk on the Sea Girt Artificial Reef.

floating drydock
The same drydock as it appears today in a side-scan sonar image. The caissons have collapsed.



I make no claim as to the accuracy, validity, or appropriateness of any information found in this website. I will not be responsible for the consequences of any action that is based upon information found here. Scuba diving is an adventure sport, and as always, you alone are responsible for your own safety and well being.

Copyright © 1996-2016 Rich Galiano
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since 2016-09-11