Container cargo system and process
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A system of transporting and process of handling cargo efficiently utilizing water trade lanes and appropriate apparatus. The system enables the optimum use of apparatus in such a way as to handle cargo most efficiently between land and water as well as from port to port; a close-functioning system with each piece of apparatus matched to the others specifically to work together collaboratively; including river or ocean port slips, traversing gantry cranes and vessels; includes the actual handling of cargo at each port by the apparatus as well as transporting cargo between the originating ports and the destination ports; first at the ports where the cargo surrounds the vessels in the port slips on three sides for maximum efficiency when transshipping cargo via the gantry cranes; then when the vessels themselves are transporting cargo between ports, the method includes apparatus which provides optimum handling of cargo by addressing and resolving, via vessel configuration, the problems of the vagaries of channel characteristics, primarily depth changes, but also lock sizes in shallow draft waters; the vessels designed to transport cargo in short sea and ocean sea states and then return to shallow draft conditions, if required; note that all apparatus continues to be compatible with legacy (traditional) apparatus; thus total efficiency for handling and transporting cargo with our system using our process, compared to present systems and processes, is significantly enhanced.

Pollinger, Paul George (Washington, DC, US)
Mcallister, Timothy Alan (Severna Park, MD, US)
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B63B35/28; B65G63/00; B65G67/60; (IPC1-7): B63B35/28
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1. A system of barging comprising: a. buoyant barge vessels having hull, walls and cargo space that is self-powered or towable, b. trade lane networks of inland upstream shallow draft waterways, inland downstream deep draft brown water rivers and short sea blue water oceans, c. adjacent said trade lane network port slips having the same water levels, and three dry access sides, and one wet access side, d. adjacent said port slips having a loading/unloading area surrounding all four sides. and, e. within said loading/unloading area gantry traversing cranes.

2. The barging vessels of claim 1 further comprising connected in tandem towing or pushable, a 200 foot tugs, 400 foot barge vessels, 600 foot barge vessels, compatible when joined, to fit within 1,200 foot river locks, and able to be larger vessels outside the river locks.

3. The barging trade lane network of claim 1 further comprising said barging vessels compatible with low water levels, ice, flooding, locks and fast flowing water.

4. The barging port slips of claim 1 further comprising said barging vessels compatible with barging trade lane networks, and also capable of accommodating all types of legacy barges.

5. The barging loading/unloading area of claim 1 further comprising said barging vessels and said barging trade lane networks compatible with said barging port slips.

6. The barging gantry traversing cranes of claim 1 further comprising compatibility with said barging vessels and said barging trade lane networks and said barging slips comrpatible with said barging loading/unloading areas.

7. A process of compatible cargo barging comprising: a. unloading cargo from external freight suppliers onto compatible barging loading/unloading areas, b. loading cargo from loading/unloading areas onto compatible barging vessels, c. transporting said compatible barging vessels with cargo from pickup port slips at point “a” to delivery port slips at point “b” via said compatible trade lane networks, d. unloading cargo from said compatible barging vessels onto compatible barging loading/unloading areas, and e. loading cargo from said compatible barging loading/unloading areas onto external freight deliverers.

8. The unloading of cargo of claim 7 further comprising use of compatible gantry traversing cranes

9. the loading of cargo of claim 7 further comprising use of a compatible gantry traversing cranes.

10. The transporting of claim 7 further comprising use of said, a compatible buoyant barging vessels having hull, walls and cargo space that is self-powered or towable.

11. The transporting of claim 7 further comprising use of said compatible barging slips having four access sides and same water levels.

12. The transporting of claim 7 further comprising use of said compatible trade lane networks having inland upstream shallow draft waterways, inland downstream deep draft brown water rivers, and short sea blue water oceans.



Priority of U.S. Provisional patent application Ser. No. 60563469 filed, Apr. 20, 2004, incorporated herein by reference is hereby claimed.


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1. Field of the Invention

This invention relates to the system of barging with all components being compatible. Particularly, it relates to the handling of ocean containers and other cargo and to related vessels, trade lanes, water, locks, cranes, slips, and ports. Specifically, the present invention relates to crane apparatus, port slips, and vessels that operate on shallow draft inland US waterways and deep draft short sea ocean operations worldwide. By matching and coordinating the apparatus and its operations to and with each other, the material handling benefits accumulate so that ocean containers utilizing these ports and trade lanes can be processed in a more efficient manner resulting in a lower total cost to market than presently established methods.

2. General Background of the Invention

Currently, in the transport of cargo throughout the world, cargo must often be transported in various types of vessels, the choice of which depends on the depth of the water in which the vessel travels. For example, when product from the Midwest USA is placed in containers or even loaded in bulk for transport to foreign countries, the product must be placed in relatively shallow draft vessels such as barges to be able to move freely in river channels, such as the Ohio and Mississippi River, to/from a deep water port where the product is transshipped or stored. Transshipment is an expense, storage is an expense. Occasionally, the deep draft vessel receives the container or bulk cargo directly from the shallow draft barge, but again, time and expenses are incurred when this effort is undertaken. In all these scenarios, efficient throughput of the containers through the system is diminished. Other primary shipping options are on trucks and trains, both of which are widely published as being more expensive in cost per ton-mile over long distances between markets.

River locks enabling more stable and efficient river shipping were built in about 1930; ocean containers began to be used in quantity in the late 1950s. Following the introduction of ocean containers by ocean vessel organizations, there were attempts to combine the two i.e. to transport ocean containers on inland waterway barges. Today, active trials continue.

The traditional river barge transportation industry, however, has always been risk averse. Little research and development has happened to advance shipping in this industry since locks were put into place 75 years ago. The focus has been on maintaining the status quo and ensuring that the Federal Government continues to support the inland waterways system as it presently exists. This is documented in publications throughout the industry. The Maritime Administration (MARAD) has recently recognized this and taken steps to increase R&D for the inland waterways.

However, none of the trial demonstrations using traditional barges have succeeded in terms of establishing viable trade lanes. Nor has there been success in enabling a seamless transition of carrying cargo from shallow water to deep water and back to shallow water again. Nor has any consequential container volume been maintained. There are a number of qualified third party published statements supporting these positions.

There have been some attempts to address the shallow draft/deep draft vessel transition problem but there has been no attempt to establish a total system with gantry cranes, slips, vessels, trade lanes working compatibly together as described in our patent. For example, patent searches reveal only one recent attempt (U.S. Pat. No. 5,967,072 Deep Draft-Shallow Draft Cargo Vessel) by a short sea vessel to efficiently carry container cargo in a shallow/deep draft barge. It never was built because of an overly complex unfolding vessel design. Our Mod 1 Hull vessel design, by contrast, is part of a total system and is “pure” in design meaning that no physical transformation is required to go from shallow draft rivers to unrestricted short sea ocean operations.

Key to the total system invented, is the solution to the vital need in the art to move containers from a shallow draft to a deep draft environment and back to a shallow draft environment without having to transship the containers or convert the hull. Additionally, in most inland upper rivers there is also a requirement, to be successful, to be able to navigate the locks, to compete with other forms of intermodal transportation as well as to load and off load cargo as quickly as possible.

The logistics of moving a container to market are both subtle and complex. When one observes the intermodal options, mainly trucks, rail, and a variety of vessels, and how established this competition has become, the excellent economics of the system (AKA Mod 1 Hull and Port) are revealed because the system and processing method are economically attractive. In an industry where an order is often won by less than 1%, the economics of the Mod 1 Hull and Port system can make a 10-20% difference.


The present invention solves the problems in the art in the most simple and straightforward manner. The object of the system of barging, where all components are compatible, is to instigate superior shipping processes on the inland waterway and short sea waterways. What is provided is a principal system in which the parts work together to move containers most efficiently in the river water environment. The system, viewed as a total process, has not been invented prior to this. The components of the system include the vessel, port, the port slip, the gantry crane, locks and the trade lane.

The barge vessels, either 400 foot or 600 foot barge vessels, (AKA Modl Hull) have been designed to carry containers from shallow to deep water without transshipping the containers. The port slips into which the vessels are guided have been designed to allow loading/unloading from three sides delivering a most efficient loading method by the gantry cranes. The gantry cranes utilize their wheels and bridges to straddle the vessels which enable them to pick up containers from any side of the slips or the vessel holds and decks, offering the most efficient method of handling containers. The trade lanes over which the vessels and the containers travel is either shallow or deep water and the vessels fit the locks in the trade lanes allowing optimum transit. In point of fact, this system can also utilize legacy, traditional barges, and is flexible enough to include ports that may not have all the apparatus named here.

Background searching disclosed a number of patents to be referenced and incorporated here in: under Vessels, U.S. Pat. No. 5,967,072; under Slip U.S. Pat. No. 6,575,10; under Crane, U.S. Pat. No. 5,529,452 and U.S. Pat. No. 1,319,996; under High Freeboard, U.S. Pat. No. 1,675,606; under Container Transportation, U.S. Pat. No. 5,769,589; under Throughput, Patent 5,718,550; under Point A to Point B, U.S. Pat. No. 5,080,032; under Barge and Sea Navigation, U.S. Pat. No. 1,129,782 (being the first of several by the same individual). U.S. Pat. No. 6,406,249 is one of several addressing container handling assigned to a major air transportation company. Finally, there are a number of method and flow chart claims. These claims are often in the 700 class but they are in the ‘system and processing’ arena.


For further understanding of the nature, objects, and advantages of the present invention, reference should be made to the following detailed descriptions, read in conjunction with the following drawings, wherein like reference numerals denote like elements and wherein:

FIG. 1a. Is an overall perspective view of the vessel. The dimension of the vessel can vary around the three center lines. Variations can be from 200′ to 1,400′ with the most common being 600′ and 400′. Outside the lock-restricted waterways, the vessels can be more than 1,200′.

FIG. 1b. A tug may be positioned aft or along side in either the deep draft or the shallow draft configuration without having to alter the vessel in any way.

FIG. 1c. The vessel may be towed, pushed, notched, or be self powered.

FIGS. 1b and 1c. These views show the vessel in various tow conditions and combinations on the open seas and in the rivers.

FIG. 2 Shows a trade lane network of inland, upstream, downstream, and short sea ocean waterways without the lock-restricted trade lanes.

FIG. 3 Shows a port slip having the same water level and three dry access sides and one wet access side.

FIG. 4 Shows a port slip loading and unloading area surrounding the vessel on all four sides.

FIG. 5 Shows a gantry crane and a cut-out section of the gantry crane loading/unloading hold, deck cargo and a demonstration placing cargo in a storage/rail/truck area.

Various features have been shown in various figures herein. Features appearing in one figure can be used with apparatus in other figures. Also, various features shown in the various patents cited herein can be incorporated into the apparatus of the present inventions.