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THE Top Tip – Lashing on Barges

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Barges are a fundamental part of today’s marine transport solutions and we are occasionally asked why welded sea-fastenings are preferred for securing cargo on barges. Lashing of cargo using chains, wire or webbing straps is common practice especially on ships, so why not use them on barges?

The key difference between ships and transport barges is the fact that ships are manned whereas barges are typically unmanned. As good seamanship dictates a ship’s crew examine the lashings periodically it becomes clear why lashings may not be preferred for an unmanned barge. The lashings would typically be inspected daily or directly after a period of heavy weather. The inspections allow the crew to check that the lashings have maintained their tension, that the tension is constant throughout the lashing spread and there are no issues in general with the lashings.

To do this on an unmanned barge in open sea is neither safe or practical. Therefore use of lashings on a barge introduces a risk as they are effectively not inspectable and therefore potential issues cannot be identified or rectified.

Lashings under tension can loosen for a number of reasons, including natural stretch, vibrations and slamming loads especially if they are not fitted with locking mechanisms. Slack lashings can lead to uneven loading into the ones that are still tensioned, leading to progressive failure. If the cargo is not sufficiently secured it can lead to damage, or even total loss of the cargo.

Lashing on barges can be safe but normally this would be predicated on a number of factors including passage time, weather restrictions, the type / arrangement of lashing and the cargo itself. For example a short coastal tow, with weather restrictions, may be suited to lashing solutions. But key would still be the ability to lock the lashings, and ensuring the spread of load in the lashings is constant.

To eliminate the chance of cargo being compromised whilst at sea, speak with a specialist who can determine the forces the cargo will be subjected to on a barge and who understands the safest sea-fastening method for a successful barge transport.