Unloading a ship full of timber typically takes a long time because you can only hoist so much lumber off with each load. But those clever Canadians have found a way to bypass this time-consuming process. Instead of using a crane to slowly take stacks of lumber off the ship, they simply tip the ship over and the lumber comes sliding out! It looks dangerous, and you may wonder if this is some sort of accident at first glance. After all, it looks like the ship is about to sink–but what happens with this Seaspan Survivor barge after that is pretty amazing.
The Logging Industry in Canada
You can see that there is a heck of a lot of lumber on this ship, and it was likely taken from the forest-rich province of British Columbia. Along with Quebec and Ontario, B.C. is where most forestry in Canada occurs. This country is ideal for forestry because it’s estimated that about 42% of it is forests containing mostly pine, spruce, and poplar trees. When you consider how many trees they have, it’s not surprising that forestry in Canada is a $20 billion a year industry.
It May Look Like a Regular Ship, but It Isn’t!
You’ll see that though it may look like a regular ship, the vessel dumping this timber is actually a big barge. Barges have been around for hundreds of years, and there are several different kinds used for various tasks. The barge we are looking at here, though, is a log barge, and a specially designed one at that. Believe it or not, it’s actually designed to tip over to unload its cargo. An article from The Nauticapedia sheds more light on how these barges are designed and how they evolved over the years. Basically, it took a lot of trial and error to get it right.
How Does The Self-Dumping Barge Work?
The self-dumping flat-deck barge seen here evolved from old sailing ships. What you don’t see is the preparation required before dumping the cargo from these vessels. You will notice that there is a tow line attached to the barge, and this is attached to a tug boat to help hold the barge in position. After making sure everything is secure, the sea chest and other valves to the tipping tanks and pre-flood balasts are opened. After all this is done and everything is in place, the dumping can begin.
The Seaspan Survivor Log Barge
The log barge seen here is a Seaspan Survivor. Its production dates back to 1974, making it one of the first self-unloading log barges built. The Survivor has the following key specs:
- 15,400 short tons capacity
- 2 cranes with 50-ton capacity
- 400 feet long
- 88 feet in breadth
- 29 feet deep
You might also be interested to know that Seaspan built more log barge models in later years, including the Phoenix in 1980, Hercules in 1981, and SS201 in 2008. Interestingly enough, the two older barges are roughly the same size as the Survivor, but the SS201 is about two-thirds of its size.
Not the Cable Station
So what is Seaspan? Well, aside from building barges, they do a lot of other things. The company is actually a group of companies that includes Seaspan Marine, Seaspan Ferries, Seaspan Shipyards, and a few other related companies. They also produce and repair shipdocking and escort tug boats, commercial ferries, and repair cruise ships. Here are the categories of vessels they’ve built in addition to log barges:
- Ocean tugs
- Coastal tugs
- Ship-assist tugs
- River tugs
- Flat-deck barges
- Bulk carriers
- Ship barges
- Covered barges
- Oil barges
- Chemical barges
- Rail barges
That’s quite the list as you can see, so it’s safe to say that they knew what they were doing when they built the Survivor back in ’74.
Accident or Success?
Now that you know how it works and some background, you’ll see why the barge is in that dangerous position. It is designed to dip down in the water and come back up. However, there are still a lot of things that can go wrong if the proper procedures aren’t followed. The cranes could easily fall down if they aren’t secured and the ship could easily sink if the proper valves aren’t opened or it isn’t secured in the right position. You be the judge and see whether this is one of those times where something went wrong or the dump goes exactly as planned. Either way, this just isn’t something that you see every day.