Maneuverability of a pusher and barge system under empty and full load conditions


A pusher–barge system (P/B) has been one of the main transportation systems particularly for rivers and inland waterway services. Since a P/B normally sails in restricted waters such as a sharp bend in a river, the maneuverability is important for safe navigation. Although the barge draft changes drastically with an increase of the amount of cargo, the draft of the pusher which normally equips a small ballast tank does not change so much. It indicates that the step appears or disappears around the pusher–barge connection due to the load condition of the barge. This phenomenon is a unique and interesting characteristic of a P/B. Therefore, this study aims to discuss the effect of the barge load condition on the maneuverability. For this purpose, the towing tank experiments were conducted under the empty and full load conditions of the barge, and the mathematical model to simulate maneuvering motions of the P/B was established. At that time, the hydrodynamic force data in the range of high yaw rate was made up by the CFD method. We found that the course stability of the P/B deteriorated with an increase of the barge draft. It is related to the change of the pressure filed spread over the pusher bow which is influenced by the wake shed from the barge. Besides, the simulation study revealed that the turning ability due to small steering was worse under the empty load condition than the full load condition of the barge. However, it appears to be improved with an increase of the steering angle.

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This study was supported by Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (B) of JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 26820380. The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Grant-in-Aid.

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Correspondence to Masaaki Sano.



Although the circular motion test (CMT) was conducted in the towing tank of Hiroshima University, there was a limitation on the range of the nondimensional yaw rate in CMT, i.e., \(|r^{'} | \le\) 0.2. There was inadequate data available to establish the mathematical model that is expected to simulate maneuvering motions up to larger yaw rates. Thus, CFD computations were carried out in order to make up for the hydrodynamic force data of the bare hull in large maneuvers up to \(|r^{'} | \le\) 0.8 in the same manner as that proposed by Yasukawa and Sano [21]. A least square method was applied to the result of CMT calculated by CFD and the force derivatives of Eq. 6 were identified. Only the nonlinear derivatives were picked up from them and employed as listed in Table 5. In terms of linear force derivatives, the experimentally derived values as listed in Table 4 are employed.

Figure 27 shows the comparison of the surge force, sway force and yaw moment at the midship of the bare hull between the measured plots and polynomial trendlines which were drawn based on the combination of these derivatives. They take into consideration the inertia term of mass like Fig. 12. The figure shows that the polynomial trendlines agree with the experimental plots up to \(|r^{'} | \le\) 0.2 and the surge and sway forces and yaw moment seem to be reasonably extrapolated up to larger yaw rates. The proposed mathematical force model employing the linear derivatives that are based on the experiment and the nonlinear ones that are based on CFD is validated.

Fig. 27

Comparison of the hydrodynamic forces and moment acting on the bare hull between the experimental plots and polynomial trendlines that are drawn by the mathematical force model employing the linear derivatives that are based on the experiment and the nonlinear ones that are based on CFD; subplots in the 1st row: pusher, subplots in the 2nd row: P/B(Empty), subplots in the 3rd row: P/B(Full)

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Sano, M., Yasukawa, H., Okuda, A. et al. Maneuverability of a pusher and barge system under empty and full load conditions. J Mar Sci Technol 23, 464–482 (2018).

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  • Pusher and barge system
  • Barge load condition
  • Turning ability
  • Course stability
  • Towing tank experiment
  • Maneuvering simulation