Maritime Shipping in the 21st Century: The Next Generation
Contributed by Professor Arthur Cohen B.A., M.A., CEO, Target Consultants International, Ltd. ([email protected]). Contributed articles do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of ÆGIS.
Today the U.S. faces some serious transport and logistical problems. There is a growing problem of supplying troops with equipment and materiel at “hot spots” around the world. With the increase of hurricanes hitting the Florida and Gulf Coast Regions, we have found it difficult to provide water, food, and medical supplies when roads and bridges are damaged or destroyed. We face the threat of terrorists who are trying to disrupt international shipping lanes by attacking commercial tankers and military vessels. Add to this the concerns of the oil industry about environmental catastrophes created when large or super size tankers are damaged accidentally or intentionally. Is there any one possible answer to all of these concerns?
The SeaSnake is a new shipping system that can revolutionize current maritime transport. It has applications for the commercial market, the military, FEMA, and homeland security. This shipping system, created by Carlos Kountz, a mechanical engineer, has multiple registered patents including those for a unique bumper and locking system. This enables the SeaSnake to connect and disconnect barges in open water. This shipping system combines the best qualities of tankers and barges and adds many qualities unique to it self. It is more efficient, versatile and environmentally friendly than any ocean transport system operating today. Unlike a tanker, the SeaSnake’s lower draft allows the ship to move along the coastline and into many river systems. Additionally, it is capable of going through the two major canals eliminating the need of making the long trip around the horn of Africa or South America cutting days and dollars off a trip. Unlike a barge which is not ocean worthy, this ship is capable of traveling in the open ocean.
The SeaSnake consists of a mother ship, a number of barges, and a caboose. Because the barges easily disconnect, they can be used in a “drop and swap” format. A full barge with its cargo can be dropped off and an empty one can be picked up. This will minimize the time a ship and its crew must sit around waiting while unloading or loading occurs. Also, since many harbors have limited access and often get tied up with ships waiting to enter, the SeaSnake barges can be disconnected and brought in singly without waiting. This could save time and big money. The mother ship and caboose both contain tugs which can be dropped into the water and used to move full barges into ports and pick up empties. Even the caboose is capable of disconnecting and moving barges under its own power. Also, the barges can be dropped off and function as temporary storage facilities.
Originally intended to help in the shipment of oil, it soon became apparent that the SeaSnake could transport almost any liquid or dry bulk product. Because the oil would be divided into many separate barge compartments, damage to one would prevent leaks to the others and would minimize the environmental impact. We have seen in the case of the Exxon Valdez, which leaked oil up in Alaska, what could happen when a tanker hull is compromised. Environmental catastrophes are one of the biggest concerns of major oil companies, and by transporting oil in the SeaSnake’s smaller barges, the chance of a major catastrophe is significantly reduced.