Cargo Barge Maker Updates Design

An Oregon shipyard decided it was time to tinker with the design of a cargo barge that hasn't changed much in the past half century.

COOS BAY, Ore. (AP) -- After 50 years of major advancements in automotive, aviation and maritime engineering, an Oregon shipyard decided it was time to tinker with the design of a cargo barge that hasn't changed much in the past half century.

Sause Bros. Ocean Towing has unveiled the Kamakani, a 438-foot deck cargo barge, at the Southern Oregon Marine shipyard in Coos Bay.

Company president Dale Sause said the Kamakani is the result of 10 years of evolution in the company's Bay Class barges.

Before the Kamakani, the average length of Sause Bros. deck cargo barges was 350 feet with a width of about 76 feet. Construction costs were about $5 million.

The new $20 million Kamakani is 88 feet longer and 29 feet wider.

It also boasts an array of advancements developed by Friendship Engineering in Germany, which used computational fluid dynamics to study the flow of water around 1,300 different hull shapes before settling on the final design.

The streamlined hull contains lateral slats like the wing of an airplane to reduces drag in the water.

The barge also features a new hydro-lift foil for steering, which is more effective than old-style rudders. The thick, rubbery paint on the barge effectively weather-seals the Kamakani, doubling the 15-year life expectancy of older models.

"We consider it really leading-edge technology," Sause said.

The Kamakani, which means "Heavenly Wind" in Hawaiian, will be used to transport building supplies, forest products and other materials to the island state.

The expansive new deck means that Sause can replace two barges on the route to Hawaii, and make the trip faster by sailing at 12 knotsĀ -- 4 knots more than the top speed on previous barges.

The new design will save Sause 60 percent of previous fuel costs or about 900 gallons of diesel every year.

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