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This chapter implements QSTAG 592.


Inland waterway (IWW) operations are used when the theater of operations has an established inland waterway system of connecting rivers, canals, or lakes that can be used to support theater operations. The military can use IWWs to complement an existing transportation network when moving cargo into a theater of operations. An IWW can greatly reduce congestion and the work load of other modes. Military use depends on the direction of the water-way, the degree of development and rehabilitation required, the tactical situation, and the impact that military use will have on the local civilian economy. Appendix F is an extract of QSTAG 592.


Several types of watercraft can be used in an inland waterway service. They include lighter aboard ship (LASH) and sea barges (SEABEEs); locally available self-propelled barges; and US Army barges, tugs, and landing craft (Figure 4-l). The transporter must be prepared to work with whatever assets are available.


When required, an inland waterway service is formed to control and operate a waterway system; to formulate and coordinate plans for using inland waterway transport resources; and to integrate and supervise local civilian facilities used to support military operations. This organization varies in size from a single barge crew to a complete inland waterway service depending on requirements. It may be composed entirely of military personnel or by local civilians supervised by military units of the appropriate transportation staff section.

Inland waterway units are normally a part of the theater Army transportation service. They are attached to the TRANSCOM; but they may be assigned to the corps support command (COSCOM) and attached to the transportation brigade if the inland waterway operation takes place wholly within the COSCOM area of responsibility.

Although a terminal group may operate an inland waterway service, a terminal battalion composed of appropriate terminal service, cargo transfer, harbor craft, boat, and/or amphibian units is often employed in this capacity.


Three separate fictional components make up an inland waterway system (Figure 4-2): the ocean reception point (ORP), the inland waterway, and the inland waterway terminal.

The ocean reception point consists of mooring points for ships, a marshaling area for barges, and a control point. The mooring point can be alongside a wharf, at anchor in the stream, or offshore. The marshaling areas can be alongside a wharf or secured to stake barges at anchor. The control point can be ashore or on a stake barge. Stake barges at the ORP can be semipermanent anchored barges or vessels. Barges can be used to house control point crews as well as the small tug crews, dispatchers, and other personnel connected with the ORP. They should have a gear locker to stow the various equipment and lines needed to service barges and tugs. There should be at least two stake barges at the ORP; one for import and one for export. LASH and SEABEE vessels are worked at the ORP.

The US Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the inland waterway in a generic theater or in CONUS. However, the host country normally maintains and operates developed inland waterway systems in overseas theaters. Aids to navigation on the inland waterways differ all over the world. Some areas do not use aids, while others use the international ocean system. The US uses many different and highly sophisticated systems. For illustrations of navigation aids, refer to FMs 55-501 or 55-501-2.

The inland waterway terminal (Figure 4-3) is similar to any other inland terminal, except that it is where cargo is transferred between some form of lighterage and land-based transportation. Inland terminals vary in size and design. Some are designed for one commodity, others, for general purposes. For military purposes, the available inland terminal may not be what is needed; therefore, the planner and user must adapt (at least until engineers can modify the terminal). Quays running along the inland waterway, finger piers at wider points, or basin-type terminals could be adapted by installing DeLong piers as quays or piers, installing regular barges by either partially sinking or driving pilings to hold them in place, or using a beach that could be improved.


The transportation planner's interest in an inland waterway is in its capability to move cargo. Therefore, he is interested in the effect of its physical features on its ability to carry cargo. Among the physical features that determine what can be moved over a waterway are the restricting width and depth of channel; horizontal and vertical clearance of bridges; and number of locks, their method of operations, and length of time required for craft to clear them. Freeze-ups, floods, and droughts also affect a waterway's capacity. The transportation planner must know when to expect these seasonal restrictions and how long they may last. He is concerned with speed, fluctuation, and direction of water current as well as availability of craft, labor, terminal facilities, and maintenance support.

QSTAG 592 standardizes documents that are common to several means of transport. This agreement helps terminal operators predict movement requirements.

On an inland waterway, one of the following situations determines the method for calculating the waterway capacity:

  • The daily capacity can be estimated by determining the number of craft per day that can pass through the most limited restriction such as a lock, lift bridge, or narrow channel and multiplying this figure by the average net capacity of the barge or craft in use.

  • When the capacity of a waterway is so large or the number of barges so limited that not enough barges are available to fill or exceed the waterway capacity, the planner determines the required capacity for military purposes.

Waterway capacity is based on turnaround time. Turnaround time is the length of time between leaving a point and returning to it. Since barges are being picked up at a wharf or stake barge, barge loading time is not part of the computation. If barges are picked up at shipside without marshaling at a wharf or stake barge, loading time of the barge would become a factor of turnaround time. The following items must be known to calculate turnaround time:

  • Length of haul. This is the trip distance between the barge pickup point and unloading points or the reverse trip.

  • Speed. This is influenced by wind, current, power of craft, and size of load. If the craft's speed cannot be determined, assume it is 4 miles per hour in still water (6.4 kilometers per hour). Speed and direction of current can frequently be discounted since resistance in one direction may be balanced by assistance in the other direction. However, this is not always the case.

  • Loading and unloading time. This is the time to load and unload a craft at origin and destination.

  • Time consumed in locks. This is the time it takes a craft and its tow to pass through a lock. When exact data is lacking, assume lock time is one hour per single lock (step).

  • Hours of operations. This figure is usually planned as 24 hours per day. Maintenance factors are applied in equipment requirements as shown later in formulas.

  • Transit time. This is the time to move the craft the length of the haul and directly related occurrences. To determine transit time, add the time to make up the tow, the distance divided by the speed of the tow; the time consumed to pass through the locks; and the time to break up the tow.

  • Speed control. Because of possible damage to the inland waterway, speed is controlled.

  • Barge, tugboat, or craft requirements. When determining the number of barges, tugboats, or craft requirements, always roundup to the nearest whole number. Then apply the maintenance factor and round up again.

Two basic types of inland waterway watercraft systems are: barge-carrying ships and ships' cargo discharged onto barges at the ORP.

The most current type of barge-carrying ships are LASH and SEABEE. These ships furnish preloaded barges. Therefore, the ship schedules furnish the barges used on the inland waterway system. Use Table 4-1 when planning for turnaround times and equipment requirements using barge-carrying ships.

When barges carrying ships are not in use and ships are discharged onto barges at the ORP, use Table 4-2.

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