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New Barge Lighting for 20xx?


July, 2010 Update: Still no new information on this, but it's interesting reading...


If you've ever approached the side of a barge at night, you know how hard it can be to see a series of barges. This is especially true in a long tow typical of the area consisting of a 5-long by 3-wide configuration. The only lighting that will be exhibited by the tow will be sidelights and two yellow towing lights on the stern, plus you will see sidelights and a special yellow flashing light at the front of the barges. There will be several hundred feet of darkness between these lights along the side.

Closer to the city, the lack of surrounding lights is your first clue that you may be looking at the side of a tow. You would think that with all the advances in technology, there would be a better way to make barges more visible. Currently, the only lighting required on the barges themselves would be sidelights and a "special flashing light" at the most forward point. Five barges back, you will see the tow exhibit sidelights and two towing lights astern.

Captain Ron Getter of Cincinnati's Southern Ohio Marine Trade Association reports that there is a new system that has been tested on the rivers and will be introduced into the approval process in April of 2009. Each barge will be equipped with three lights along the exterior edge.

What about the mess of wiring these babies up? They will each be solar-powered and radio-controlled from the tow. Each will feature an arc of visibility of 15 degrees, directed toward the beam, so that they will only be visible as viewed from the side. They will be sequenced in a racetrack pattern to indicate the tow's direction of travel (forward or astern).

Sounds great, but why haven't they turned them on already? The Colregs (Rule 20 D) regarding vessel lighting prohibit unapproved lighting configurations. These lights will be required only after they have been approved.

-Captain Eric




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