US20090304453A1 - Mooring habitat structure - Google Patents

Mooring habitat structure Download PDF

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Publication number
US20090304453A1
US20090304453A1 US12/462,648 US46264809A US2009304453A1 US 20090304453 A1 US20090304453 A1 US 20090304453A1 US 46264809 A US46264809 A US 46264809A US 2009304453 A1 US2009304453 A1 US 2009304453A1
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Prior art keywords
containment
apertures
mooring
habitat
ballast
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US12/462,648
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Stewart Hardison
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WIND REEF GROUP LLC
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WIND REEF GROUP LLC
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Priority to US11/983,267 priority Critical patent/US20080112759A1/en
Application filed by WIND REEF GROUP LLC filed Critical WIND REEF GROUP LLC
Priority to US12/462,648 priority patent/US20090304453A1/en
Publication of US20090304453A1 publication Critical patent/US20090304453A1/en
Assigned to THE WIND REEF GROUP, LLC reassignment THE WIND REEF GROUP, LLC ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: HARDISON, STEWART
Priority claimed from US13/196,027 external-priority patent/US8869746B2/en
Abandoned legal-status Critical Current

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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B21/00Tying-up; Shifting, towing, or pushing equipment; Anchoring
    • B63B21/24Anchors
    • B63B21/26Anchors securing to bed
    • B63B21/29Anchors securing to bed by weight, e.g. flukeless weight anchors
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B3/00Engineering works in connection with control or use of streams, rivers, coasts, or other marine sites; Sealings or joints for engineering works in general
    • E02B3/04Structures or apparatus for, or methods of, protecting banks, coasts, or harbours
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B3/00Engineering works in connection with control or use of streams, rivers, coasts, or other marine sites; Sealings or joints for engineering works in general
    • E02B3/20Equipment for shipping on coasts, in harbours or on other fixed marine structures, e.g. bollards
    • E02B3/24Mooring posts

Abstract

A container for underwater placement on a sea, lake or river bottom. The container has openings in the sides, top and bottom and is filled with ballast of large boulders, cobble, crushed coral, cast concrete modules or other materials. The openings allow water and water currents, as well as marine organisms, to pass freely therethrough. Over time, a wide assortment of marine organisms infiltrate and colonize the nooks, crevices and cavities of the ballast, thus utilizing the habitat as they would an artificial reef. One or more hitch points are provided on the container for attaching mooring lines for ships, boats, floating wind turbines or other floating structures, thereby allowing the artificial reef to anchor such structures.

Description

    RELATED PATENT APPLICATION
  • The present application is a Continuation-in-Part Patent Application of copending U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/983,267 for ARTIFICIAL REEF ANCHOR STRUCTURE filed Nov. 8, 2007.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention relates to mooring devices and, more particularly, to a specialized mooring system that provides habitat that is attractive to a wide variety of underwater organisms.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • Artificial reefs are commonly found around the world. Some are constructed to protect harbors or beaches from wind, wave or tidal forces. These types of reefs are often constructed of large, boulder-sized stones or concrete modules cast in a variety of shapes and sizes.
  • Reefs designed for protection purposes generally extend above the water line so as to deflect the forces of wind, wave or tide. These protective artificial reefs can be of any size or shape; sometimes they are circular, semi-circular, curved or straight. When a reef is constructed to abut a shoreline, it is sometimes called a break wall. When a reef extends from the shoreline into open water, it is sometimes called a jetty. Whatever they are called, they are, in essence, an artificial reef.
  • Artificial reefs are often favored by fishermen, because their structure, whether constructed of natural stone or concrete modules, creates prime shelter and habitat for a wide variety of marine organisms, including desirable species such as fish, crab and lobster that are prized by both commercial fishermen and recreational sports fishermen.
  • Other artificial reefs are constructed solely to enhance marine habitat and are designed to provide an underwater landscape replete with nooks, crannies, cavities, ledges and other subsurface features onto and into which marine organisms may attach or shelter. By providing cover and sanctuary for small organisms like algae, plankton and minnows, larger fish are attracted to forage. These fish, in turn, attract even larger fish, including sharks, tuna, bass, snapper, grouper and other large predatory fish which are at the top of the marine food chain. These types of reefs are usually totally submerged and may be constructed in shallow water near shore or in deep water miles off shore. These types of reefs may be constructed of almost any material or objects which will sink into the water column, including, but not limited to the following: natural stone, weighted tree stumps and brush, household appliances, cars, trucks, farm implements, school buses, scrap steel, subway and railway cars, factory machinery and other. Additionally, any number of decommissioned naval and merchant ships of all sizes have been scuttled in deep water to provide artificial reef structure. These types of reefs may also be constructed of cast concrete modules that can take a variety of shapes and which may have cavities molded into them.
  • Increasingly, artificial reefs are becoming a part of the underwater landscape wherever there is a robust interest in fishing, either for commercial or recreational purposes, or both. As example, many U.S. states with salt water territories actively construct artificial reefs for use by recreational sports fishermen. The reef locations appear on nautical charts, and buoys are positioned over them so they may be easily located by mariners and fishermen. Certain countries, notably Japan, construct artificial reefs on a large scale for use by their commercial fishing fleets. Wherever artificial reefs are constructed, they are widely considered to be an enhancement to the marine environment and ecosystem.
  • A number of prior patents disclose artificial reefs specifically to attract and concentrate marine organisms. As example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,947,791 to Laier et al., U.S. Pat. No. 4,465,399 to Kikuzawa et al. and U.S. Pat. No. 4,388,019 to Kajihara show cylindrical structures that are open on the ends and essentially porous on the sides. The porosity of the sides allows small fish and other organisms, as well as ambient water currents, to pass freely through the sides. The interior spaces of the structures provide sanctuary to small fish and other organisms, while limiting access to larger, predatory fish. In each of the patents, the disclosed structures can be utilized individually or in plurality. The device disclosed by Laier et al. is buoyant, and therefore suspends off the marine ground and is held in place by a tether line attached to an anchor. The reefs taught by Kikuzawa and Kajihara are of sufficient density that they sink through the water column and rest on the bottom without the need of an anchor or retaining stake.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,276,301 to Pederson and U.S. Pat. No. 6,712,024 to Hall disclose apparatus utilizing tire casings for the construction of artificial reefs. The Pederson device shows a habitat structure comprising tire casings baled together to form a series of chambers and cavities in which fish and other organisms can find refuge. The density of the tire casings allows them to rest on the bottom without anchorage assist. Hall shows a string of tire casings linked together and suspended vertically in the water column, with the top end attached to a flotation device and the lower end attached to anchor means.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,454,665 to Hughes and U.S. Pat. No. 6,467,993 to Utter et al. show artificial reef components comprising vertical, pole-like structures that extend upward from the marine bottom into the water column. Each device is designed to function with other, like units. The Hughes structure comprises a buoyant rod attached flexibly to an anchor base; Utter shows a string of multi-chambered bodies sharing a cable line, with one end of the cable attached to a flotation device and the opposing end attached to an anchor. Each structure has the ability to heel over, or sway, in response to tidal currents or wave impacts.
  • All the above cited patents share the common feature of providing structure to serve as sanctuary, refuge and attachment surface for marine organisms ranging from algae to crabs and lobsters and finned fishes. While a number of the above cited patents employ means to hold them in place on the marine bottom, none of the above patents functions as an anchor for mooring floating vessels or structures. In summary, none of the above artificial reefs can in any respect serve the function of an anchor for anything but itself.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,916,845 to Aydelette, Sr. for DEVICE TO ATTRACT FISH shows a submersible container with uniform holes that is used to confine minnows. The container is fashioned of transparent plastic, thus allowing the minnows to be visible to wild fish such as crappie or perch. Upon seeing the minnows, the wild fish are then lured closer to the container, thereby providing an advantage to the angler who lowers a baited hook near or adjacent to the container.
  • Aydelette, Sr. is essentially a cage that confines and holds minnows. The minnows are trapped and held inside the container, with no means of escape. The device is designed to securely enclose, trap, cage or otherwise confine and hold the minnows on the inside of the container. The diameter of the apertures shown must be no greater than an inch, as anything greater than one inch in diameter would allow even a large minnow (one measuring five to six inches in length) to swim freely out the hole and escape the container, thereby defeating the purpose of the device.
  • Anchor means cover a wide variety of sizes, shapes and designs, but may generally be assigned to two broad categories: stationary anchor means which remain in one position on the sea, harbor, river or lake bottom; and portable anchor means which are carried aboard vessels, large or small, and which are lowered into water whenever anchorage is needed and then hoisted back aboard when the vessel needs to continue passage.
  • Stationary anchor means are sometimes massive concrete or steel structures, which rely on gross deadweight tonnage to hold them in place. Generally, a stout cable, chain or hawse line runs from this large, submerged anchor to a buoy which floats on the surface of the water. This buoy has stanchions, or stout chain rings, onto which boats or ships may tie their mooring lines. Other stationary mooring anchors are steel, concrete or wooden devices that are driven or buried deep into the sea, harbor, river or lake bed, with a heavy line running from them to a surface mooring buoy or fixed structure.
  • As example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,611,734 to Mott shows a modular anchor system specialized for the stationary mooring of an offshore oil drilling platform. Mott discloses floatable components comprising a rectangular foundation member and a ballast. The members are towed to an offshore location, where the foundation member is submerged by the flooding of interior chambers. Once the foundation member is resting on the marine bottom, the ballast is flooded to force it to sink onto the foundation member, thereby unitizing the individual members into an anchorage foundation for the submerged legs of an oil drilling platform.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,092,944 to Van der Wal shows an anchor comprising two oblong, cylindrical, hollow bodies joined by a series of spars. When the hollow chambers are flooded with water, they sink to the bottom, where they can be buried or driven into the underwater bed or floor to form an anchor for large vessels or floating structures.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,776,140 to Wight et al. shows a modular block anchor for supporting guy wires for transmission towers and other land based structures. The anchor comprises a cradle, or base skid, onto which are stacked deadweight blocks. Individually, the blocks are transportable by helicopter, but when assembled on the base skid they cumulatively can weigh dozens of tons. While designed for land use, the Wight et al. device could be used in underwater applications.
  • Portable anchors, which are carried aboard vessels, are generally lighter in weight. As example, German document DE 3201975 shows a basket apparatus that, when filled with stones, serves as an anchor for ships. The basket apparatus has a pull chain that allows the ballast stones to be dumped. Once emptied, the basket is then collapsible for efficient storage on board the ship.
  • More specifically, German document DE 3201975 shows a four sided, pyramidal-shaped basket comprising movable sidewalls. The sidewalls are operative in their movement as result of their lower edge being hinged to a bottom, or floor plate. This allows the sidewalls to swing outward or inward in the manner of a hinged door.
  • German document DE 3201975 shows no internal members or struts connecting to the respective sidewalls, as such internal structural features would prohibit the movement of the sidewalls, thereby defeating the purpose of the apparatus.
  • Other portable anchors derive their holding power from tongs, or flukes, which engage the bottom when the anchor is dragged across the floor of the water body on which the vessel floats. These drag embedded anchors generally require long mooring lines to function effectively. As example, U.S. Pat. No. 3,015,299 to Towne et al. discloses a classic drag embedded anchor, with the anchor comprising two large steel flukes hinged on a cross bar attached to a steel arm with a hitch point on the distal end of the arm for attaching a heavy chain or hawse line.
  • The above described permanent and portable devices may inadvertently attract marine organisms, as will virtually any object which resides on submerged ground in either freshwater or salt water environment. As example, it is commonly known that offshore oil platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are attractive to a wide variety of game fish prized by fishermen. Similarly, bridge or dock pilings in freshwater lakes or rivers attract a variety of minnows and pan fish, which in turn attract predatory game fish like bass and pike. While it is well known that such structures attract marine organisms, the underwater components of these structures are not in any sense a “reef,” as they do not have the requisite components of piled rocks, boulders, gravel, concrete modules or crushed coral which create myriad nooks, crannies, ledges, crevices and cavities which both natural and artificial reefs present. It is these said features which attract marine organisms in the greatest variety and quantity of numbers.
  • SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • The invention provides a container for underwater placement on a sea, lake or river bottom. The container has openings in the sides, top and bottom and is filled with ballast of large boulders or other materials. The openings allow water currents, as well as marine organisms, to pass freely therethrough. Over time, marine organisms colonize the cavity areas of the ballast, thus utilizing the habitat within the container as an artificial reef. One or more hitch points are provided on the container for attaching mooring lines, thereby allowing the container to serve as an anchor for boats, ships, aquaculture systems, wind turbines, rigs and other floating apparatus.
  • As will be seen, one general object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure for mooring floating wind turbines and other large floating structures.
  • Another object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that is relatively compact and containable within the walls of a manufactured silo, bin, hopper, box, drum, barrel or other man-made container which can be produced on a mass scale. The walls and floor of the containers are semi-porous, so as to allow entry into and egress from the interior portions for marine organisms and ambient water currents, while retaining within the walls and floor a significant weight of ballast material. Ballast material is composed of layers of large boulders, stone cobble, gravel, sand, crushed coral, cast concrete modules or other material forms and in any combination thereof. This artificial reef may thus be regarded as a kind of contained rock pile, with vast interior volumes of cavities, nooks and crannies relative to the rock pile's footprint.
  • Another object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that has more than one habitat zone for marine life, thus providing a structure that promotes diversity as well as aggregation of marine life.
  • A further object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure comprising a container with exterior walls that are textured or grooved, thus providing an increased surface area that is conducive to the colonization of marine life.
  • A further object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that is constructed to allow fish traps, nets, baited hooks or other collection means to be lowered into the interior portions of the mooring habitat structure, thus providing fishermen using those means better access to the fish or other marine life that may reside within the reef.
  • Another object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that is structurally constructed to allow the insertion of scientific research equipment, including underwater cameras and biological sample collection systems, and aquaculture equipment, including food delivery and marine life stocking and seeding systems, to be delivered to the interior portions of the artificial reef anchor means.
  • A further object of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that is constructed in a manner that allows it to function effectively on a variety of underwater ground, whether the ground slope is flat or steeply pitched, or whether the ground surface is smooth or strewn with rocks and other irregular features.
  • One of the primary attending objects of the invention is to provide a mooring habitat structure that is fashioned in such a way that it provides one or more secure hitching points for one or more anchor lines from which to moor boats, ships, barges or other floating structures, including floating wind turbines. It should be noted that the invention is especially suited for the mooring of floating wind turbines whenever they are arranged in a plurality of units, or in what is commonly called an off shore wind farm.
  • It is believed that no other structures employ the dual characteristics of effective anchor means combined with artificial reef habitat structure that is especially attractive to marine organisms.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • A complete understanding of the present invention may be obtained by reference to the accompanying drawings, when considered in conjunction with the subsequent, detailed description, in which:
  • FIG. 1 a is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 1 b is a section view of the preferred embodiment of the invention, showing ballast material disposed therein;
  • FIG. 1 c is a downward view of the preferred embodiment of the invention, showing ballast material disposed therein;
  • FIG. 1 d is a section view of a preferred embodiment of the invention, showing ballast material arranged in strata;
  • FIG. 1 e is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention, showing exterior walls scored with horizontal grooves;
  • FIG. 1 f is a side view of a preferred embodiment of the invention, showing exterior walls scored with vertical grooves;
  • FIG. 2 a is a side view of an alternate embodiment of the invention, showing the invention disposed on a slope;
  • FIG. 2 b is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention, showing ballast material disposed therein;
  • FIG. 2 c is a detail of the alternate embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 3 a is a section view showing an alternate embodiment of the invention with interior support members;
  • FIG. 3 b is a top view of the alternate embodiment of the invention with interior support members;
  • FIG. 4 a is a cut-away, side view of an alternate embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 4 b is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention with ballast material disposed therein;
  • FIG. 4 c is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention with ballast material and trap means disposed therein;
  • FIG. 5 a is a downward view of an alternate embodiment of the invention, showing planar floor comprised of wire or cable grid;
  • FIG. 5 b is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention;
  • FIG. 5 c is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention, showing planar floor deformed under load;
  • FIG. 5 d is a section view of the alternate embodiment of the invention, showing invention disposed on marine ground;
  • FIG. 6 a is a side view of a plurality of floating wind turbines, shown in simplified form, moored to a plurality of the inventions, also shown in simplified form; and
  • FIG. 6 b is a side view of floating wind turbines and artificial reef units in various suspended configurations.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT
  • The invention provides an underwater, ballast filled container with openings in the sides, top and bottom. The openings allow water currents, as well as marine organisms, to pass freely therethrough. Over time, marine organisms colonize the cavity areas of the ballast, thus utilizing the container as an artificial reef. One or more hitch points are provided on the container for attaching mooring lines, thereby allowing the container to serve as an anchor.
  • Referring now to FIGS. 1 a through 1 f, the mooring habitat structure 12 consists of a container 10 with a plurality of openings comprising a first set of apertures 20 and a second set of apertures 21 and a plurality of mooring rings 22, onto which are attached a plurality of mooring lines 24. Container 10 is filled with a first ballast mass 25, a second ballast mass 26, a third ballast mass 27 and a fourth ballast mass 28.
  • As best seen in FIG. 1 c, container 10 is cylindrical, with a plurality of mooring lines 24 radiating outward at 90 degrees spacing from each other. While a circular or cylindrical container has certain advantages relating to strength and efficiencies of manufacture, container 10 could also be square or any other closed geometric shape, including, but not limited to, rectangle, octagonal, hexagonal, pentagonal, triangular or polygon. The number of mooring lines 24 is also arbitrary, and could be any number.
  • Container 10 is constructed primarily of cast concrete, but other materials could be used, including, but not limited to, heavy chain link fabric (commonly known as chain link fencing), steel, wood, composite plastic or any combination thereof. Although the preferred embodiment is shown as a cylinder, or tube, other three dimensional forms could also be used, including cube, cylinder, cone, pyramid, sphere and polygon.
  • As best seen in FIGS. 1 a and 1 b, the sets of apertures 20, 21 are round, but they could also be of other geometric form, including oblong, rectangle, polygon and irregular. Also, while first set of apertures 20 is shown below the second set of apertures 21, the positioning of the two sets is arbitrary and could, in fact, be reversed. However, it should be noted that by positioning the smaller apertures, or first set of apertures 20, in close proximity to the bottom bed or marine ground 8, it is made easier for crabs, lobsters and other ground-based marine life (not shown) to infiltrate container 10 and find shelter in the small boulders and cobble that comprise first ballast mass 25.
  • While proximity to marine ground 8 encourages the aggregation of lobsters, crabs and other valuable marine species, the size of openings is also important. Therefore, in order to attract and accommodate the aforementioned species, first set of apertures 20 comprises openings that are at least 5 inches in diameter. This size opening allows mature crabs and lobster to infiltrate the container and find shelter and home in the habitat zone formed by first ballast mass 25. At the same time, an opening that is 5 inches in diameter prevents large cod and other predatory fish from entering the container and preying upon the crabs, lobsters and other species that may reside in the habitat zone formed by first ballast mass 25.
  • For fish such as bass, grouper and others that may pursue baitfish into cavity areas formed by ballast mass 26, second set of apertures 21 comprises openings that are greater than 5 inches in diameter. Where ballast mass 26 comprises large boulders the size of cars or trucks, thus providing spacious cavities that can accommodate large fish such as sharks and giant grouper, second set of apertures 21 may comprise openings 2 feet or greater in diameter.
  • As best seen in FIG. 1 b, first ballast mass 25 is disposed in container 10 in general alignment or registry with first set of apertures 20. In similar fashion, second ballast mass 26 is disposed in container 10 in general registry with second set of apertures 21. This structural registry of smaller sized ballast material to smaller sized apertures and larger sized ballast material to larger sized apertures provides at least two habitat zones for marine life. As previously mentioned, this increases the aggregation and diversity of marine life in mooring habitat structure 12.
  • As seen in FIG. 1 e, the exterior surface of wall 30 of container 10 is scored with a plurality of horizontal grooves 38. These horizontal grooves 38 serve to increase the exterior surface area of wall 30, thereby increasing the area onto which marine organisms may adhere and colonize. Additionally, horizontal grooves 38 provide a surface that is textured with cornered edges, thereby providing marine organisms a better purchase to the exterior wall than the purchase that is accorded by a smooth wall.
  • As seen in FIG. 1 f, the exterior surface of wall 30 of container 10 is scored with a plurality of vertical grooves 39. These vertical grooves 39 also serve to increase the exterior surface area of wall 30, thereby increasing the area onto which marine organisms may adhere and colonize.
  • The exterior surface of wall 30 of container 10 can also be stippled and roughened by adding an aggregate of gravel and pebbles to the concrete mixture that is used in the manufacture of container 10. This aggregate, when added to the concrete during pour, creates a finished exterior wall that is rough and stippled in texture, thus providing the advantages of increased surface area and better purchase for marine organisms.
  • As seen in FIG. 1 b, container 10 is weighted with first ballast mass 25 and second ballast mass 26. First ballast mass 25 is composed of cobble-sized stone, while second ballast mass 26 is composed of large chunks of natural stone, which are irregular in shape but roughly uniform in size. Whether natural stone, as shown in FIG. 1 b, or manufactured concrete forms (not shown), the irregularity of the shapes of first ballast mass 25 and second ballast mass 26 is preferred, as this creates myriad crevices, nooks, crannies, ledges and cavities that provide shelter and refuge for marine organisms, including commercially desirable ones like lobsters, crabs, clams, oysters, mussels, flounder, sea bass, grouper and others.
  • As seen in FIG. 1 d, ballast material can be organized into stratified layers, with first ballast mass 25 comprising a lowermost layer of cobble-sized stone. This lowermost layer is overlaid with second ballast mass 26 comprising large boulders. This layer is overlaid with third ballast mass 27 comprising small boulders. This layer, in turn, is topped with fourth ballast mass 28 comprising an aggregate of sand and gravel. This layer of sand and gravel is retained within container 10 by solid wall portion 40. As previously mentioned, these stratified layers of ballast create separate and distinct habitat zones that promote the aggregation and diversity of marine life.
  • Here, it should be noted that the openings comprising first set of apertures 20 and second set of apertures 21 may assume a variety of sizes, shapes and spacing patterns on the same container 10. These sizes, shapes and spacing patterns may also vary from one container to the next. As mentioned above, second ballast mass 26 may comprise large boulders roughly the size of a car, while fourth ballast mass 28 may comprise pea sized gravel and sand. Correspondingly, the size of openings comprising first set of apertures 20 and second set of apertures 21 may range from 19.625 square inches (for a 5″ diameter aperture) to square feet or even square yards in size (for apertures that are 2 feet or more in diameter).
  • The size of the crevices, nooks, crannies and cavity areas found amongst the ballast materials may also vary considerably, depending on the size of the ballast material. Large boulders, for example, may provide passageway clearances measuring in feet, thus accommodating large predatory fish like striped bass, cod, sharks and others. Very fine ballast material, like pea sized gravel and sand, may accord clearances measuring only in fractions of square inches, which could accommodate only small organisms like fish fry, shrimp, plankton and others.
  • As seen in FIGS. 2 a and 2 b, planar floor 23 can be pre-fabricated at an angle relative to vertical axis Y. This allows planar floor 23 to match the slope of marine ground 8, thereby allowing container 10 to remain essentially upright, with sidewall 30 substantially vertical, or parallel to vertical axis Y, and top edge 36 substantially horizontal, or at a 90 degree angle to vertical axis Y.
  • As seen in FIG. 2 c, planar floor 23 is shown at an angle of 120 degrees relative to axis Y. This angle matches the 30 degree ground slope of marine ground 8, relative to horizontal axis X. By matching the angle of planar floor 23 to the slope of marine ground 8, container 10 is allowed to remain vertical, thereby preventing any top heaviness on the downward slope side of the container, a condition that could diminish the mooring capability of mooring habitat structure 12. By contrast, when container 10 remains vertical, the ballast weight uniformly bears downward on marine ground 8, thereby providing maximum mooring capability and preventing container 10 from tipping over on the down slope side.
  • It should be noted that while planar floor 23 is shown and described above to comprise an angle of 120 degrees relative to axis Y, the angle of planar floor 23 relative to axis Y could be as much as 135 degrees. An angle of 135 degrees would match a ground slope of 45 degrees relative to axis X, thereby allowing container 10 to remain substantially vertical, even on a sharply pitched slope. In conditions where the slope of the marine ground is steeper than 45 degrees, gravity based systems become impractical. Therefore, in the preferred embodiment shown, the angle of planar floor 23 relative to axis Y will range between 90 degrees and 135 degrees.
  • Here, it should also be noted that the relevance and feasibility of a variable sloped bottom, or planar floor 23, is made possible because of the electronic technologies that are now routinely employed by the shipping, fishing and marine construction industries. These technologies allow for precise mapping of the marine floor, as well as the precise positioning of a vessel over a particular spot of marine ground. It is therefore practical to custom manufacture a container to precisely match a given terrain of marine ground and then lower that container with precise positioning and orientation onto that marine ground. This allows mooring habitat structure 12 to be utilized on marine ground ranging from flat to as steep as 45 degrees of slope and remain in an upright, vertically aligned orientation for maximum mooring capability.
  • As shown in FIGS. 3 a and 3 b, sidewalls 30 of container 10 are internally braced by a series of interconnecting strut members 31 that lock sidewalls 30 fixedly in place, thus preventing their movement, either inward or outward. These internal strut members 31 serve to make container 10 unitarily rigid, stiff and non-movable.
  • As best seen in FIG. 3 a, these reinforcing strut members 31 are joined and abutted to one another in a connected pattern that creates a rigid internal framework. This reinforcing framework includes a plurality of strut members 31 that extends upward from planar floor 23 to sidewall 30 of container 10, and thence through sidewall 30 to terminate at a mooring ring 22. This creates a rigid framework that transfers stiffness to sidewalls 30. Sidewalls 30 are thus locked fixedly in place and made rigid, stiff, non-compressible and non-inflatable. Additionally, the connected framework spreads and absorbs the bearing forces that are exerted on mooring ring 22 by mooring line 24.
  • As best seen in FIG. 3 a, a post member 29 extends upward from planar floor 23 to a position slightly above top edge 36. The topmost portion of post 29 terminates in a mooring ring 22. Post member 29 is held rigid and fixed in vertical alignment by a plurality of strut members 31 that are attached to it and to other strut members 31.
  • As seen in FIGS. 4 a through 4 c, mooring habitat structure 12 retains an interior silo 11. Silo 11 is disposed in the center of container 10. Like container 10, silo 11 has a first set of apertures 20′ and a second set of apertures 21′.
  • As best seen in FIG. 4 a, the sets of apertures 20′, 21′ of silo 11 match the sizes of the apertures 20, 21 in container 10. The apertures 2021′ of silo 11 are also in registry with the apertures 20, 21 in container 10. Thus, the first set of apertures 20′ of silo 11 align uniformly with the first set of apertures 20 of container 10, while the second set of apertures 21′ of silo 11 align uniformly with the second set of apertures 21 of container 10.
  • As seen in FIGS. 4 b and 4 c, first ballast mass 25 and second ballast mass 26 are disposed between interior sidewall 34 of container 10 and exterior sidewall 35 of silo 11. No ballast is disposed inside of silo 11, thereby creating void area 37.
  • As seen in FIG. 4 c, trap means 32 suspends from tether line 33. Tether line 33 extends to a vessel (not shown) that floats on the surface of the water. When trap means 32 is lowered into void area 37, it comes in close proximity to marine life (not shown) that inhabits first ballast mass 25 and second ballast mass 26, thereby providing optimal opportunity for said marine life to enter trap means 32 and be recovered by the crew of the vessel, not shown, floating above.
  • Scientific research equipment, including underwater cameras and biological sample collection systems, and aquaculture equipment, including food delivery and marine life stocking and seeding systems, not shown, can also be delivered to the interior portions of the mooring habitat structure 12 in the same manner and fashion as described above for trap means 32.
  • The size of container 10 is arbitrary. However, for the invention to effectively serve as an anchor means for structures as large as floating wind turbines, container 10 and ballast masses 25, 26, 27 and 28 should have a combined displacement of a thousand tons or more. To achieve this displacement tonnage with preferred ballast like large boulders or stone cobble requires that container 10 be approximately 30 feet high by 30 feet in diameter, or of a geometry that provides an interior volume of approximately 24,000 cubic feet.
  • As shown in FIGS. 5 a through 5 d, planar floor 23 can also comprise a series of cables 41 arrayed in a crisscross pattern, with the cables attached to and stretching from wall to wall of container 10.
  • As best seen in FIG. 5 a, cables 41 intersect at right angles, thereby creating a fishnet pattern 51. The size of the openings in fishnet pattern 51 can be controlled by the spacing, or separation distance, between cables 41, thereby preventing the stones or objects comprising the lowermost ballast mass from falling through fishnet pattern 51. Here, it should be noted that while cables 41 are shown intersecting at right angles, they could also intersect at other angles and still function to retain the lowermost layer of ballast.
  • As seen in FIGS. 5 b and 5 c, planar floor 23 is essentially flat, but deformable under load. Although cables 41 are positioned in two planes, they nevertheless touch the other, thereby creating a unitized planar floor 23. This unitized characteristic is achieved by each of the planes of cables 41 being in contact with the other, but also, just as importantly, by the fact that cables 41 are under tension and therefore taut. Despite this tautness, however, fishnet pattern 51 and cables 41 that comprise planar floor 23 will nevertheless deform under the considerable weight of ballast mass 26, as shown by arrow W. This malleability provides planar floor 23 with the capability of conforming to an irregular surface.
  • As seen in FIG. 5 d, the above mentioned malleability allows planar floor 23, when comprising crisscrossed cables as described above, to lay onto and generally conform to the stone-strewn or cobble-strewn surface of marine ground 8, much in the way a bean bag or a sack of pebbles conform to the surface onto which it is placed. This feature of malleability, though understandably slight, allows container 10 to be lowered onto an irregular surface of marine ground 8 and essentially conform to that surface, without the surface having to be smoothed or groomed prior to the placement, or lowering, of container 10 onto the ground. Understandably, this feature provides important cost savings for the marine construction company charged with the deployment of mooring habitat structure 12 onto a marine ground.
  • Although not shown, fishnet pattern 51 could be comprised of heavy-duty cordage of the grade that is seen in cargo nets and mooring lines. This would provide even greater pliancy than what is provided when fishnet pattern 51 is comprises of steel cables, as described above.
  • As seen in FIG. 6 a, the invention can be utilized to moor a plurality of floating wind turbines 16, with more than one wind turbine 16 sharing a common mooring to one unit of the mooring habitat structure, or container 10.
  • As seen in FIG. 6 b, container 10 may be suspended off the sea, lake or other marine bottom in a variety of configurations by attaching the container 10 to mooring lines 24. The variety of configurations is not limited to the ones shown in FIG. 6 b.
  • Since other modifications and changes varied to fit particular operating requirements and environments will be apparent to those skilled in the art, the invention is not considered limited to the example chosen for purposes of disclosure, and covers all changes and modifications which do not constitute departures from the true spirit and scope of this inventive method.
  • Having described the invention, what is desired to be protected by Letters Patent is presented in the subsequent appended claims.

Claims (20)

1. A mooring habitat structure for securing at least one mooring line to floating structures while simultaneously providing habitat for underwater organisms, comprising:
containment means having a vertical axis and a first and a second set of apertures therein, said second set of apertures having interior dimensions greater than said first set of apertures;
a first mass of ballast material disposed in said containment means to anchor said containment means;
a second mass of ballast material in said containment means to create habitat to attract marine organisms;
at least one hitch point attached to said containment means for connecting mooring lines thereto; and
a planar floor portion whose plane is disposed at an angle between 90 degrees and 135 degrees relative to said vertical axis of said containment means.
2. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first set of apertures comprises openings at least 5.0 inches in diameter and said second set of apertures comprises openings greater than 5.0 inches in diameter.
3. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first mass of ballast material comprises stones or objects uniformly larger than said first set of apertures and wherein said second mass of ballast material comprises stones or objects uniformly larger than said second set of apertures.
4. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said second mass of ballast material comprises stones or objects uniformly larger than said stones or said objects comprising said first mass of ballast material.
5. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said first mass of ballast material is disposed in said containment means in registry with said first set of apertures and said second mass of ballast material is disposed in said containment means in registry with said second set of apertures.
6. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said containment means comprises exterior walls and said exterior walls of said containment means comprise a surface texture from the following group: grooved, stippled and pebbled.
7. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said planar floor of said containment means comprises cables, rope, cordage, straps or other pliant materials that span wall to wall in a crisscross or fishnet pattern.
8. A mooring habitat structure for providing an anchor for securing a plurality of mooring lines to floating structures while simultaneously providing habitat for underwater organisms, comprising:
containment means of substantially rigid construction having sidewalls and a plurality of apertures formed therein, and at least one hitch point for mooring lines;
a planar floor portion;
a plurality of interior strut members connected to said sidewalls of said containment means; and
heavier than water ballast disposed in said containment means.
9. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 8, wherein said strut members extend from said planar floor portion of said containment means to said sidewalls of said containment means and thence through said sidewalls of said containment means to terminate at said hitch points.
10. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 8, further comprising an interior post member joined to said interior strut members.
11. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 10, wherein said interior post member extends vertically from said planar floor of said containment means to terminate at said at least one hitch point.
12. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 8, wherein said ballast comprises a stratification of ballast sizes.
13. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 8, wherein said containment means comprises substantially rigid, immovable, non-compressible, non-collapsible and otherwise unitary sidewalls.
14. A mooring habitat structure for providing an anchor for securing a plurality of mooring lines to floating structures while simultaneously providing habitat for underwater organisms, comprising:
containment means having a vertical axis and a first and a second set of apertures therein, said second set of apertures having interior dimensions greater than the dimensions of said first set of apertures;
a silo disposed inside of said containment means, said silo having a vertical axis and a first set and a second set of apertures therein, said second set of apertures having interior dimensions greater than the interior dimensions of said first set of apertures;
a first mass of ballast material disposed inside of said containment means and outside of said silo to anchor said containment means and said silo;
at least one hitch point attached to said containment means for connecting mooring lines thereto; and
a floor joined to said containment means.
15. The mooring habitat anchor structure in accordance with claim 14, wherein said first set of apertures in said containment means comprises openings at least 5.0 inches in diameter and said second set of apertures in said containment means comprises openings greater than 5.0 inches in diameter.
16. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 14, wherein said first set of apertures in said silo comprises openings at least 5.0 inches in diameter and said second set of apertures in said silo comprises openings greater than 5.0 inches in diameter.
17. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 14, wherein said first mass of ballast material comprises stones or objects uniformly larger than said openings of said first set of apertures in said containment means and uniformly larger than said openings of said first set of apertures in said silo.
18. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 14, further comprising a second mass of ballast material comprising stones or objects uniformly larger than said openings of said second set of apertures in said containment means and uniformly larger than said openings of said second set of apertures in said silo.
19. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 18, wherein said first mass of ballast material is disposed in said containment means in registry with said first set of apertures in said containment means and in registry with said first set of apertures in said silo and said second mass of ballast material is disposed in said containment means in registry with said second set of apertures in said containment means and in registry with said second set of apertures in said silo.
20. The mooring habitat structure in accordance with claim 1, wherein said containment means comprises a geometrical form from the following group: cube, cylinder, cone, pyramid, sphere and polygon.
US12/462,648 2006-11-10 2009-08-06 Mooring habitat structure Abandoned US20090304453A1 (en)

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US11/983,267 US20080112759A1 (en) 2006-11-10 2007-11-08 Artificial reef anchor structure
US12/462,648 US20090304453A1 (en) 2007-11-08 2009-08-06 Mooring habitat structure

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US12/462,648 US20090304453A1 (en) 2007-11-08 2009-08-06 Mooring habitat structure
US13/196,027 US8869746B2 (en) 2009-08-06 2011-08-02 Mooring structure with habitat features for marine animals
US14/496,246 US9464413B2 (en) 2009-08-06 2014-09-25 Mooring structure with habitat features for marine animals

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Cited By (9)

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US8421254B2 (en) 2010-05-20 2013-04-16 Nordest Marine Inc. Stream flow hydroelectric generator system, and method of handling same
US20130284831A1 (en) * 2012-04-30 2013-10-31 Warren Darnell Portable particle spreading device
US20140079490A1 (en) * 2012-09-20 2014-03-20 Korea Institute Of Ocean Science And Technology Supporting structure for offshore wind power generator
US20150136205A1 (en) * 2013-11-19 2015-05-21 Andrew Barron Worden Solar panel ballasted ground support systems
US20150200619A1 (en) * 2013-11-19 2015-07-16 Andrew Barron Worden Solar panel ballasted ground support systems
WO2016025244A1 (en) * 2014-08-14 2016-02-18 Worden Andrew Barron Solar panel ballasted ground support systems
US20170051724A1 (en) * 2010-11-04 2017-02-23 University Of Maine System Board Of Trustees Floating hybrid composite wind turbine platform and tower system with suspended mass
CN109680646A (en) * 2019-01-08 2019-04-26 沈阳乾玉水利有限公司 The construction method of filling mortar skeleton dense form structural body
GB2521836B (en) * 2014-01-02 2020-07-29 Pliosaur Energy Ltd Hydrokinetic system

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* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
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US8421254B2 (en) 2010-05-20 2013-04-16 Nordest Marine Inc. Stream flow hydroelectric generator system, and method of handling same
US20170051724A1 (en) * 2010-11-04 2017-02-23 University Of Maine System Board Of Trustees Floating hybrid composite wind turbine platform and tower system with suspended mass
US10598155B2 (en) * 2010-11-04 2020-03-24 University Of Maine System Board Of Trustees Floating hybrid composite wind turbine platform and tower system with suspended mass
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GB2521836B (en) * 2014-01-02 2020-07-29 Pliosaur Energy Ltd Hydrokinetic system
WO2016025244A1 (en) * 2014-08-14 2016-02-18 Worden Andrew Barron Solar panel ballasted ground support systems
CN109680646A (en) * 2019-01-08 2019-04-26 沈阳乾玉水利有限公司 The construction method of filling mortar skeleton dense form structural body

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