The Cargo Barge is a form of aerial vehicle/hovercraft appearing in BioShock Infinite. As the name suggests it's primarily used for hauling cargo and is commonly seen in and around Finkton. Lacking any other apparent means of propulsion or lift, barges apparently use Lutece Particle to be able to fly. These craft are able to make good speed even while carrying tons of cargo and are fairly maneuverable.
The cargo barge resembles a boat with a large flat deck and a pilothouse in the rear. The pilothouse is large enough for to hold several crew members and there is a door on each side to allow access by the crew. Unlike the gunship, it appears the barge is piloted by a human crew and not an automaton.
The barge’s deck is reinforced and able to hold multi-ton loads of cargo without fear of damage. Low on the sides of the barge are two bags held loosely in place by ropes. These bags provide no lift or propulsion and act as the “bumpers” to protect the hull when the barge docks. When the barge is moving, the bags are brought in closer to the hull. Around the lower hull of the barge is what appears to be a metal framework, put there to prevent damage to the hull in case of a collision. The hull has what appears to be portholes on it. The lower section of the hull is a virtual duplicate of the one on the gondola.
Some models of the cargo barge have a crane mounted on the wheelhouse that is used for moving cargo. Another version of the cargo barge mounts a large crane on it's deck that limits it's cargo carrying capacity. A smaller version of the cargo barge exists that is a little over half the length of the standard version. It is easy to spot a smaller version as they have only a single bumper on each side as the normal version has two to a side. This smaller version is uncommon and few examples are seen.
There is a modified version of the cargo barge used to transport prisoners. Seen only once in Finkton, this Labor Barge is longer than the standard cargo barge and has armored gunwales and pilot house as well as a total of three bumpers on each side. The pilot house at the rear and has an observation platform on top of it capable of supporting a Handyman. The only example of the labor barge seen has large rocks on its deck being laboriously broken apart by chained prisoners with sledge hammers. The signage on this particular barge indicates it is owned by the Columbia Department of Corrections and is number 5128. It is unknown if this craft is piloted by a human pilot or an automaton.
Cargo Barges serve as terrain for the player to make their way across and locations to find supplies. There is no chance for these craft to be hijacked as the doors to the pilot house are always locked and the player never has the opportunity to be aboard a moving one. Elizabeth tries to stow away on cargo barge at one point in the game, but is found and thrown off.