Updated at: 09-09-2021 - By: Lucas

Barges are used for several things: as a means of transportation, as a way to carry cargo, and as a working boat. In fact, barges are so versatile, they have been used for thousands of years. There are more than 7,000 different types of barges in the world today. And just like boats, each type of barge has specific uses. 

In this guide, we are going to discuss the most common types of barges and tell you a little bit about their history, uses, and characteristics.

Dry Bulk Cargo Barges

Dry Bulk Cargo Barges

A dry bulk cargo barge is a large, semi-submersible vessel that carries cargoes such as coal or ore that are not normally transported in bulk. They are used for transporting very large quantities of material over long distances. Dry bulk cargo barges are usually about 440 feet long and 80 feet wide. They can weigh up to 200,000 tons and have a carrying capacity of up to 70,000 tons.

They can carry cargo in either a forward or aft direction. A forward direction is when the cargo is stored on top of the ship. An aft direction is when the cargo is stored below deck. Usually, dry bulk cargo barges have a single hold that can be divided into two sections. The lower section is where the cargo is loaded and the upper section is where the cargo is unloaded.

Liquid Cargo Barges

Liquid Cargo Barges

A liquid cargo barge is a large ship with a flat bottom that is specially designed to transport bulk liquids. Liquid cargo barges are used to transport petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel, kerosene, jet fuel, etc. These types of barges have been used for decades and are still in use today.

They are also used to transport other non-petroleum liquids like ethanol, methanol, ammonia, butane, etc. A liquid cargo barge has a carrying capacity of about 40,000 gallons. That means you can fill up a 5,000 gallon truck with these barges and still have some left over. Barges can be stacked on top of each other for added height or combined with a dry cargo barge to increase the total cargo space.

Car-float Barges

Car-float Barges

A car-float barge is a floating dry dock that is towed behind a boat. This allows the car-float barge to reach areas that would otherwise be inaccessible. Car-floats are used for a variety of purposes, but the most common one is to allow a vehicle to be pulled out of the water for repair. A car-float barge is a large floating dry dock that has a flat deck and a heavy-duty frame. The barge is usually equipped with cranes, ramps, and other devices to facilitate work on the vehicle.

The biggest advantage of a car-float is that it can be used almost anywhere. If a vehicle needs to be pulled out of the water for repair, there is virtually no limit to where you can put the car-float barge. You can repair the vehicle on the barge, then simply push it back into the water. This allows you to continue using the vehicle until the repairs are completed.

Power Barges

Power Barges

A power barge is a floating barge with an onboard generator that produces electricity. These barges are used to generate power on the open water. This is a great way to provide power to remote areas where there is no other form of electrical power. It’s also a viable alternative for areas that have frequent blackouts.

These barges can be as large as 300 feet long and 20 feet wide. They can weigh up to 100 tons and have a carrying capacity of 10 megawatts. That means they can carry enough electricity to power 10,000 homes. They are usually self-propelled and are crewed by just two or three people.

Deck Barges

Deck Barges

A deck barge is a flat-bottomed boat with a deck built above the waterline. Deck barges are used for various purposes such as hauling cargo, people, or both. They can also be used for leisure activities such as fishing or just plain relaxing. When used for leisure activities, they are sometimes called cabin barges or canal boats.

Deck barges can be single or double hulled. A double hull design adds strength to the craft and makes it less likely to sink. However, a double hull does add weight and therefore a deck barge will tend to be slower and less maneuverable than a single hull boat of the same size. Single hull boats are generally preferred over double hull boats because they are lighter and therefore more nimble.

Crane Barges

Crane Barges

A crane barge is a large floating structure with a heavy duty crane mounted on it. The crane barge is used to lift and move huge amounts of weight over long distances. These barges are used in many different ways. 

One common use is to unload raw materials from a ship into one end of the barge, and then use the crane to transfer that material to another location on the barge where it will be processed or put on a conveyer belt and sent off to be made into something else.

Crane barges are very stable and can withstand high winds and rough seas. They are also designed to be submerged in water for long periods of time. This makes them an ideal choice for projects that require moving large amounts of weight from one place to another.

Hopper Barges

Hopper Barges

A hopper barge is a large, semi-submersible vessel that is ideal for carrying aggregate such as gravel or crushed stone. Hopper barges are built with a flat bottom and high sides. The high sides keep the barge stable when it is being moved, but also keeps the barge dry. This means that the hoppers can be used over and over without becoming waterlogged.

Hopper barges are ideal for moving large amounts of material from one location to another. They can carry up to 50 tons of material and are equipped with an enormous amount of horsepower to move the weight. These barges are usually propelled by two or three propellers and can travel at speeds of up to 10 knots.

Shale Barges

Shale Barges

A shale barge is a large, semi-submersible vessel that is designed to hold a considerable quantity of oil or natural gas. A barge is a floating structure made of wood or steel and is tied together with iron or wooden cross members called “stringers”.  

There’s an exception to this. Sometimes barges are made of concrete. The shale barges are usually constructed with a length of between 200 and 400 feet and they have a beam (width) of approximately 40 to 70 feet.

They have flat bottoms and have a molded or V-shaped bow. This type of design makes it possible for the barges to be loaded with such a heavy weight of material that they remain stable and do not list to one side or the other. 

The shale barges are usually equipped with a stabilizing system called an “L-brace” which is a series of large steel or aluminum struts that run fore and aft on each side of the barge. These struts help to keep the barge from heeling over excessively.

Liquid Mud Barges

Liquid Mud Barges

A liquid mud barge is a large, slow-moving ship that carries dirt or some other type of filler material. When the ship reaches its destination, the filler material is emptied into a massive pile called a “pile driver.” The pile driver is then used to raise an area of the ocean floor so construction can begin on a new building or some other type of structure.

Liquid mud barges are used all over the world for various types of projects. They’re especially useful for raising areas of land which are very difficult to access. In fact, these ships are so large and move so slowly, they are able to lift huge amounts of earth and rock in one continuous motion.

The liquid mud barges were developed in the 1940’s and they’ve been used ever since for all kinds of construction projects. They are extremely versatile and can be used for many different types of applications.

Ocean Barges

Ocean Barges

An ocean barge is a large, floating storage unit that is used to transport goods across oceans. They were first used during World War II when they replaced much more expensive alternatives like railroads and trucks. Ocean barges are very large and stable. 

They can carry enormous amounts of cargo and have a very long lifespan. These barges can be over 100 feet long and up to 70 feet wide. They have a flat bottom and are constructed with thick, strong hulls. They are moved via a system of cables attached to a tugboat.

Ocean barges are ideal for storing or transporting large or oddly shaped cargo. They are also used for storing equipment and materials that need to be kept out of the elements.

Steel Barges

A steel barge is simply a large, heavy-duty box-like container made of steel. They are used to transport almost anything you can think of that needs to be moved from one location to another. They are usually used for bulk shipments like coal or ore. 

Sometimes, they are used for transporting manufactured goods. Steel barges are so useful, they have been employed for thousands of years. They were originally used by the ancient Romans to transport goods around the Mediterranean Sea.

Today, steel barges are still in use all over the world. They are used for transporting raw materials, machinery, manufactured goods, and even people! They are also used to store and secure valuable cargoes. When you are storing something in a steel barge, it is extremely difficult for anyone to get to it without your knowledge. This makes them an ideal choice for securing your valuables.

Hull Barges

A hull barge is a large, semi-submersible vessel that has a wooden or steel frame with a waterproof coating. A hull barge is usually about 60-feet long and 20-feet wide. They can hold up to 400,000 gallons of liquid.

They are used for transporting goods and equipment over long distances. For example, a construction company might use a hull barge to transport dirt and gravel to a job site. At the job site, the dirt and gravel would be unloaded and used to fill in the holes left by the removal of the dirt and gravel from the other side.


What is a Luxury Barge Cruise?

Barges are among the most economical, comfortable and ecological way to travel along the waterways of Europe. A barge cruise is an ideal way to enjoy numerous attractions on your journey with all your meals and accommodation included.

The barges are very comfortable, have all the modern comforts and luxuries you would expect from a quality river cruise ship plus much more! 

Why are barges important?

Barges were the backbone of commercial transportation on the lower Rhine in the 18th and 19th centuries. They were used for transporting agricultural products, timber, stones, coal, bricks, lime, building materials and general goods.

In 1715 there were only three barge lines operating on the Rhine between Mannheim and Koblenz. By 1780, there were more than 200 barges plying the river. In the 19th century, the number of barges increased even further.

There were so many barges on the river that it was impossible to move them all by road. To do so would have required constructing an enormous network of roads. The barges had to be moved by other means, such as by using a system of locks and dams. 

This is how the modern Rhine River navigation system came into existence. Barges on the Rhine River were not just floating warehouses. They also provided passenger and freight service.

How are barges connected?

Barges are connected in a very unique way. They are tied together in a line by a series of cables. Those cables allow them to move in one direction, forward, when the tugboat moves in the opposite direction.

Cargo barges are made up of two sections. The front half is called the “head” and the back half is called the “stern”. The head has a large opening in the front which allows the tugboat to easily load and unload the cargo.

What Do Barges Carry?

Barges are typically used to carry raw materials or manufactured goods from one place to another. Barges carry everything from grain to steel, from paper products to sludge.

What they carry is determined by the shipper, but some common items include: Coal – coal barges transport coal from mine to power plant. Crude Oil – crude oil barges transport crude oil from offshore drilling platforms to refineries onshore.


A barge is a large, flat-bottomed boat that is used for transporting goods such as cargo or vehicles across water.

Barges are used to transport cars, trucks and even semi-trucks over water. They are able to do this because of their special type of construction.

Barges are used for various types of shipping and they are used by many different types of companies. You should know about the types of barges so you can decide if they can help you with your transportation needs.