Facts on the Industry

Fast facts on the tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

See below for additional facts, fact sheets and infographics that highlight the safety, environmental, and economic benefits of the nation’s tugboat, towboat and barge industry.

  • The tugboat, towboat and barge industry is the largest segment of the U.S. domestic maritime industry, employing more than 33,000 American mariners aboard its vessels.
  • The nation’s domestic maritime industry is an economic engine and a jobs creator which supports 500,000 jobs and provides $100 billion in economic output.
  • Moving goods on the water is the most efficient transportation mode. A typical inland barge has a capacity 15 times greater than one rail car and 60 times greater than one semi-trailer truck, and one 15 barge-tow can move the equivalent of 216 rail cars or 1,050 semi-trailer trucks.
  • Water transportation plays a critical role in facilitating the nation’s trade, moving 60 percent of U.S. grain for export.
  • The single largest commodity that moves on U.S. waterways is petroleum – 244 million tons annually.
  • Twenty percent of the nation’s coal is moved on the water.

Fact Sheets