US20100067989A1 - Vessel for transporting wind turbines and methods thereof - Google Patents

Vessel for transporting wind turbines and methods thereof Download PDF

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Publication number
US20100067989A1
US20100067989A1 US12/554,651 US55465109A US2010067989A1 US 20100067989 A1 US20100067989 A1 US 20100067989A1 US 55465109 A US55465109 A US 55465109A US 2010067989 A1 US2010067989 A1 US 2010067989A1
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Prior art keywords
wind
vessel
turbine
affixed
crane
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US12/554,651
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Michael D. Brown
Richard A. Altman
Christopher C. LeCOMPTE
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SPRING CAPITAL RESOURCES Inc
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Brown Michael D
Altman Richard A
Lecompte Christopher C
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Priority to US92096507P priority Critical
Priority to US3081508P priority
Priority to US12/079,309 priority patent/US20080237173A1/en
Application filed by Brown Michael D, Altman Richard A, Lecompte Christopher C filed Critical Brown Michael D
Priority to US12/554,651 priority patent/US20100067989A1/en
Publication of US20100067989A1 publication Critical patent/US20100067989A1/en
Assigned to REMEDIAL CAYMAN LIMITED reassignment REMEDIAL CAYMAN LIMITED ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: REMEDIAL (CYPRUS) PUBLIC COMPANY LIMITED
Assigned to SPRING CAPITAL RESOURCES INC. reassignment SPRING CAPITAL RESOURCES INC. ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST (SEE DOCUMENT FOR DETAILS). Assignors: REMEDIAL CAYMAN LIMITED
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    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B27/00Arrangement of ship-based loading or unloading equipment for cargo or passengers
    • B63B27/19Other loading or unloading equipment involving an intermittent action, not provided in groups B63B27/04 - B63B27/18
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B27/00Arrangement of ship-based loading or unloading equipment for cargo or passengers
    • B63B27/30Arrangement of ship-based loading or unloading equipment for transfer at sea between ships or between ships and off-shore structures
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B35/00Vessels or similar floating structures specially adapted for specific purposes and not otherwise provided for
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B35/00Vessels or similar floating structures specially adapted for specific purposes and not otherwise provided for
    • B63B35/003Vessels or similar floating structures specially adapted for specific purposes and not otherwise provided for for transporting very large loads, e.g. offshore structure modules
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B66HOISTING; LIFTING; HAULING
    • B66CCRANES; LOAD-ENGAGING ELEMENTS OR DEVICES FOR CRANES, CAPSTANS, WINCHES, OR TACKLES
    • B66C23/00Cranes comprising essentially a beam, boom, or triangular structure acting as a cantilever and mounted for translatory of swinging movements in vertical or horizontal planes or a combination of such movements, e.g. jib-cranes, derricks, tower cranes
    • B66C23/18Cranes comprising essentially a beam, boom, or triangular structure acting as a cantilever and mounted for translatory of swinging movements in vertical or horizontal planes or a combination of such movements, e.g. jib-cranes, derricks, tower cranes specially adapted for use in particular purposes
    • B66C23/36Cranes comprising essentially a beam, boom, or triangular structure acting as a cantilever and mounted for translatory of swinging movements in vertical or horizontal planes or a combination of such movements, e.g. jib-cranes, derricks, tower cranes specially adapted for use in particular purposes mounted on road or rail vehicles; Manually-movable jib-cranes for use in workshops; Floating cranes
    • B66C23/52Floating cranes
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B66HOISTING; LIFTING; HAULING
    • B66CCRANES; LOAD-ENGAGING ELEMENTS OR DEVICES FOR CRANES, CAPSTANS, WINCHES, OR TACKLES
    • B66C7/00Runways, tracks or trackways for trolleys or cranes
    • B66C7/08Constructional features of runway rails or rail mountings
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B17/00Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor
    • E02B17/02Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor placed by lowering the supporting construction to the bottom, e.g. with subsequent fixing thereto
    • E02B17/021Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor placed by lowering the supporting construction to the bottom, e.g. with subsequent fixing thereto with relative movement between supporting construction and platform
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F03MACHINES OR ENGINES FOR LIQUIDS; WIND, SPRING, OR WEIGHT MOTORS; PRODUCING MECHANICAL POWER OR A REACTIVE PROPULSIVE THRUST, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F03DWIND MOTORS
    • F03D13/00Assembly, mounting or commissioning of wind motors; Arrangements specially adapted for transporting wind motor components
    • F03D13/10Assembly of wind motors; Arrangements for erecting wind motors
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F03MACHINES OR ENGINES FOR LIQUIDS; WIND, SPRING, OR WEIGHT MOTORS; PRODUCING MECHANICAL POWER OR A REACTIVE PROPULSIVE THRUST, NOT OTHERWISE PROVIDED FOR
    • F03DWIND MOTORS
    • F03D13/00Assembly, mounting or commissioning of wind motors; Arrangements specially adapted for transporting wind motor components
    • F03D13/40Arrangements or methods specially adapted for transporting wind motor components
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B17/00Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor
    • E02B2017/0056Platforms with supporting legs
    • E02B2017/006Platforms with supporting legs with lattice style supporting legs
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B17/00Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor
    • E02B2017/0056Platforms with supporting legs
    • E02B2017/0073Details of sea bottom engaging footing
    • E02B2017/0082Spudcans, skirts or extended feet
    • EFIXED CONSTRUCTIONS
    • E02HYDRAULIC ENGINEERING; FOUNDATIONS; SOIL SHIFTING
    • E02BHYDRAULIC ENGINEERING
    • E02B17/00Artificial islands mounted on piles or like supports, e.g. platforms on raisable legs or offshore constructions; Construction methods therefor
    • E02B2017/0091Offshore structures for wind turbines
    • FMECHANICAL ENGINEERING; LIGHTING; HEATING; WEAPONS; BLASTING
    • F05INDEXING SCHEMES RELATING TO ENGINES OR PUMPS IN VARIOUS SUBCLASSES OF CLASSES F01-F04
    • F05BINDEXING SCHEME RELATING TO WIND, SPRING, WEIGHT, INERTIA OR LIKE MOTORS, TO MACHINES OR ENGINES FOR LIQUIDS COVERED BY SUBCLASSES F03B, F03D AND F03G
    • F05B2240/00Components
    • F05B2240/90Mounting on supporting structures or systems
    • F05B2240/95Mounting on supporting structures or systems offshore
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/70Wind energy
    • Y02E10/72Wind turbines with rotation axis in wind direction
    • YGENERAL TAGGING OF NEW TECHNOLOGICAL DEVELOPMENTS; GENERAL TAGGING OF CROSS-SECTIONAL TECHNOLOGIES SPANNING OVER SEVERAL SECTIONS OF THE IPC; TECHNICAL SUBJECTS COVERED BY FORMER USPC CROSS-REFERENCE ART COLLECTIONS [XRACs] AND DIGESTS
    • Y02TECHNOLOGIES OR APPLICATIONS FOR MITIGATION OR ADAPTATION AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
    • Y02EREDUCTION OF GREENHOUSE GAS [GHG] EMISSIONS, RELATED TO ENERGY GENERATION, TRANSMISSION OR DISTRIBUTION
    • Y02E10/00Energy generation through renewable energy sources
    • Y02E10/70Wind energy
    • Y02E10/727Offshore wind turbines

Abstract

A vessel having the capability of storing, transporting, and installing between one and ten wind turbines is provided. Such a vessel includes a hull having a hull periphery. The vessel further includes at least two rear jack-up legs, and at least one forward jack-up leg, movably attached to the hull, as well as a jacking mechanism connected to each of the jack-up legs for elevating and lowering each jack-up leg relative to the hull between elevated and lowered positions. The vessel also includes at least two rear azimuthing thrusters affixed to a lower side of the transom; and at least one front azimuthing thruster affixed to a lower side of the bow. The vessel further includes at least four, preferably at least six, wind-turbine-column foundations, and at least two wind-turbine-blade brackets individually mounted to the side of the transport vessel.

Description

    CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • This application is a continuation in part of U.S. application Ser. No. 12/079,309 filed Mar. 26, 2008, which claims the benefit of U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/920,965 filed Mar. 30, 2007 and U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/030,815 filed Feb. 22, 2008, this application also claims the benefit and priority of U.S. Provisional Application No. 61/094,269 filed Sep. 4, 2008.
  • FIELD OF THE INVENTION
  • This invention relates to modified vessels capable of transporting a segmented wind-turbine to an offshore location, and methods of transporting, storing, and erecting the offshore wind turbine.
  • DESCRIPTION OF RELATED ART
  • Wind-turbine generated electricity is an alternative to oil and gas energy sources. For a number of reasons, including maintenance efficiency, permitting, and general organization, it is often desirable to erect a plurality of wind turbines within close proximity to one another. Such a group is called a wind farm, and is preferably strategically located in an area that receives sustained-high winds.
  • Wind farms may be located on land or offshore. Because wind turbines are massive—having columns over 70 meters tall, and blades over 40 meters long—transportation of wind turbines to offshore wind farms, often included shipping the wind turbines by derrick barge in several segments. Due to the limited storage capacity of the derrick barges, multiple sailings are generally necessary to complete erection of a wind farm.
  • Derrick barges are typically fitted with one or more cranes. Such cranes may be mounted atop fixed and solid pedestals. Derrick barges are typically pulled or towed to location. Typically, derrick barges do not jack-up. Accordingly, derrick barges are subject to the pitch and roll of the sea/ocean. Thus, the derrick barge's ability to erect an offshore wind turbine is limited. Moreover, the available deck space of the derrick barge is limited.
  • Another type of vessel includes a jack-up drilling rig. Jack-up drilling rigs are typically employed for offshore energy exploration and development of offshore oil and gas fields. These drilling rigs generally float on a hull and have three or four extendable legs. In the typical situation, the drilling rig is pulled or towed to a location by one or more tug vessels. At the desired location, the drilling rig's legs are then extended to the ocean/sea floor, and the deck of the drilling rig is raised—or jacked up—out of the water. Preferably, the deck of the drilling rig is raised high enough to avoid any sea swells. The jacked-up deck of the drilling rig may provide a stable structure in an environment from which a crew may perform drilling operations. These drilling rigs can withstand harsh weather conditions and may be deployed for long periods of time. Due to the nature of the work, deck space is limited and valuable.
  • Yet another type of vessel used to facilitate offshore operations is a lift boat. Lift boats, like jack-up rigs, typically have three or four jack-up legs and may be elevated out of the water. Lift boats are considerably smaller than jack-up rigs, and are intended for short term deployment. These smaller vessels generally cannot withstand harsh weather conditions and are typically designed to move, under their own power and without the need for a tug boat, out of the way of bad weather. Accordingly, a lift boat is limited in its size and ability, and cannot function as a jack-up rig.
  • Additional features of the three above-identified vessels are illustrated in the following patents:
  • U.S. Pat. No. 4,483,644 to Johnson describes a cantilever mobile marine rig with hydraulic load equalizers. The rig includes a deck structure and a cantilever assembly skiddingly mounted on the deck structure. The hydraulic load equalizers distribute the stresses between the cantilever assembly and the structure.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 5,388,930 to McNease describes a method and apparatus for transporting and using a drilling apparatus or a construction crane apparatus from a single moveable vessel. In the McNease disclosure, a drilling apparatus of a construction crane apparatus is skidded onto the deck of a jack-up rig which is then floated to a remote location for use.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,257,165 to Dams, Jr. et al. describes a vessel with a movable deck. The vessel comprises a first and second pontoon, a first catamaran hull attached thereto, and a platform. The pontoons and catamaran hull float on the waters' surface, and cannot be raised. The platform is connected to the catamaran hull using jack-up legs. In this manner, the platform may be raised and lowered relative to the catamaran hull using a jacking mechanism. Dams, Jr. et al. further describes a first thruster nozzle attached to the first pontoon, the first thruster nozzle is attached in a 360 degree phase and a second thruster nozzle attached to the second pontoon, with the second thruster nozzle being movable in a 360 degree phase.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,200,069 to Miller describes a jack-up work platform. The work platform of Miller comprises a hovercraft vessel outfitted with several jack up legs. Miller states that the hovercraft can traverse environmentally sensitive terrain such as brackish and freshwater marshes without the need to dig canals that may cause or exacerbate salt water instruction. Once the drilling or exploration site is reached, the jack up legs may be lowered, lifting the work platform above the surface.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,607,331 to Sanders et al. describes a support structure for a lift crane, and in particular, to a lift crane jack-up structure, wherein the lift crane is positioned about a leg of the jack-up structure without relying upon the leg for structural support. The structure includes an above deck portion and a substructure situated below deck such that the jack-house is structurally integrated into the vessel.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 6,926,097 to Blake describes an offshore jack-up workover rig, which is detachably mounted on an extensible cantilevered frame. The cantilevered frame comprises a pair of parallel support beams mounted to the vessel. A pair of cantilever skid beams rests on the support beam. And, at least one hydraulic ram and cylinder is provided to drive the cantilever skid beam over the support beam.
  • U.S. Pat. No. 7,131,388 to Moise, II et al. describes a lift boat having recesses in the hull that receive the pads of the legs when the boat is underway. Moise, II et al. states that preferably, the total bottom surface area of the pads is preferably at least 30% of the surface area of the deck of the lift boat. Moreover, Moise describes that the total bottom surface area of the pad is large enough such that, when the boat is loaded and jacked up, the pads exert less than 7 psi on the sea floor. Moise further describes propelling the boat using two rear propellers and rudders.
  • SUMMARY OF INVENTION
  • A vessel preferably has the capability of storing, transporting, and installing between one and ten wind turbines. Such a vessel may include a hull having a hull periphery, wherein the hull periphery has a bow, a center section, a transom, an extended transom, a bow sloped section between the bow and the center section, and a transom sloped section between the transom and the center section, and the transom is wider, along the vertical axis, than the bow, and the bow and transom are at least half as deep as the center section. The vessel may further include at least two rear jack-up legs, and at least one forward jack-up leg, movably attached to the hull, as well as a jacking mechanism connected to each of the jack-up legs for elevating and lowering each jack up leg relative to the hull between elevated and lowered positions. The vessel may also include at least two rear azimuthing thrusters affixed to a lower side of the transom; and at least one front azimuthing thruster affixed to a lower side of the bow. The vessel optionally includes a crane support having at least two vertical members with each vertical member having a first and second end, the first end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first track, the first end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second track, the first and second tracks are affixed to a deck of the vessel, the second end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first side of a platform, the second end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second side of the platform; and a column having a proximate and distal end, the proximate end is affixed to the platform, and the crane is rotatably affixed to the distal end of the column, the platform has a lower side disposed at least about 2 meters above the deck, the crane support apparatus is movable along the track. The vessel also may include at least four, preferably at least six, wind-turbine-column foundations, and at least two wind-turbine-blade brackets individually mounted to the side of the transport vessel.
  • A method of transporting a wind turbine via a transport vessel may include separately securing at least one wind-turbine column to a wind-turbine foundation, and at least one wind-turbine nacelle to the deck of the transport vessel. The method may further include securing at least one wind-turbine blade to at least two wind-turbine-blade brackets, wherein each wind-turbine-blade brackets is individually mounted to the side of the transport vessel. Preferably, between four and six wind turbines may be transported in a single sailing.
  • Another method of erecting a wind turbine offshore may include lifting a wind-turbine column from a wind-turbine foundation affixed to the deck of a vessel using a crane disposed on the vessel, wherein the crane includes a crane support having at least two vertical members with each vertical member having a first and second end, the first end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first track, the first end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second track, the first and second tracks are affixed to a deck of the vessel, the second end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first side of a platform, the second end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second side of the platform; and a column having a proximate and distal end, the proximate end is affixed to the platform, and the crane is rotatably affixed to the distal end of the column, the platform has a lower side disposed at least about 2 meters above the deck, the crane support apparatus is movable along the track. The crane may be used to secure the wind-turbine column to an offshore wind-turbine base. The crane may be used to lift a nacelle from the deck of the vessel and secure it to the wind-turbine column. The crane may be used to lift at least one blade from the vessel and secure it to the wind-turbine nacelle.
  • While the invention will be described in connection with the preferred illustrative embodiments, it will be understood that it is not intended to limit the invention to those embodiments. On the contrary, it is intended to cover all alternatives, modifications, and equivalents as may be included within the spirit and scope of the invention as defined by the appended claims.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING
  • For a further understanding of the nature and objects of the present inventions, reference should be made to the following detailed disclosure, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawing, in which like parts are given like reference numerals. The drawing figures are not necessarily to scale and certain features of the invention may be shown exaggerated in scale or in somewhat schematic form in the interest of clarity and conciseness, wherein:
  • FIG. 1 is a side, partially cut-away, view of an exemplary Elevating Support Vessel having a crane disposed on a crane support, three thrusters, and stowed and segmented wind-turbines in accordance an embodiment of with the present invention;
  • FIG. 1A is a side, partially cut-away, view of an alternative Elevating Support Vessel;
  • FIG. 2 is a top-down, partially cut away, view of the exemplary Elevating Support Vessel showing the location of the three thrusters;
  • FIG. 3 is a top-down view of the exemplary Elevating Support Vessel having the crane disposed on the crane support, showing the tracks along which the crane support moves, and showing stowed and segmented wind-turbines in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;
  • FIG. 4 is a front view of the crane disposed on the crane support of the present invention;
  • FIG. 5 is a front view of the T connection connecting the leg of the crane support with the track; and
  • FIG. 6 is a top-down view of the crane support.
  • DETAILED DISCLOSURE
  • In an embodiment, the terms “horizontal axis” or “horizontal” mean a direction along the length of a vessel from the transom of the vessel to the bow of the vessel.
  • In an embodiment, the terms “vertical axis” or “vertical” mean a direction along the width of a vessel from the port of the vessel to the starboard of the vessel.
  • In an embodiment, the terms “depth axis”, “depth”, or “deep” mean a direction along the depth of a vessel from the bottom of the vessel to the top of the vessel.
  • In an embodiment, the term “still water line” means the level of the water without wind or other disturbances which artificially impacts the level of the water, such as the wake from another vessel.
  • In an embodiment, the term “air gap” means the distance from the lowest portion of the hull of a vessel to the still water line.
  • In an embodiment, the term “self propelled” or “self propelled vessel” means a vessel that is capable of navigating open waters without the assistance of any other vessel, such as a tug boat.
  • In an embodiment, the term “hold station” or the term “holding a vessel in station” means that the vessel has the ability to remain within a 3 meter radius of its position during flotation.
  • In an embodiment, the term “Elevating Support Vessel” is defined as any vessel having at least a hull and deck, at least three jack-up legs capable of extending through the hull and deck, and at least three azimuthing thrusters, wherein the vessel is self propelled.
  • In an embodiment, the term “light ship” means the weight of the ship including its fixed components such as cranes, engines, and the like apparatus permanently affixed to the vessel.
  • In an embodiment, the term “full displacement” means the light ship weight plus the weight of variable loads and consumables such as fuel, water, deck cargo, personnel and the like objects.
  • In an embodiment, wherein a measurement of distance, length, or thickness is discussed the mean distance, length, or thickness is implied, unless otherwise indicated or unless would be otherwise understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. For example, wherein thickness of a section is discussed the mean thickness across the section is implied.
  • In an embodiment, all measurements disclosed herein are at standard temperature and pressure, at sea level on Earth, unless indicated otherwise.
  • FIG. 1 illustrates one embodiment of an Elevating Support Vessel 100. The Elevating Support Vessel 100, of FIG. 1, has a hull 103, a deck 106, a crane support 109, a crane 112, three thrusters 124, 127, and 130, three jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139, three spud cans 134, 137, and 140, six wind-turbine columns 205, eighteen wind-turbine blades 215, three wind-turbine-blade brackets 220, and six wind-turbine-column foundations 225; however, due to the position of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 only two thrusters 124 and 130, two jack-up legs 133 and 139, two spud cans 134 and 140, three wind-turbine columns 205, and three wind-turbine blades 215 are shown. For clarity of understand, FIG. 1 also illustrates the above-defined orientations, wherein H stands for the horizontal axis, V stands for the vertical axis, and D stands for the depth axis. FIG. 2 is a top-down view of the Elevating Support Vessel 100, and illustrates the locations of the three thrusters 124, 127, and 130 and the three jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139.
  • Vessel Hull and Dimensions
  • The hull 103 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may be thought of as subdivided into six sections: a transom section 142, a sloped transom section 145, a center section 147, a sloped bow section 150, a bow section 153, and an extended transom section 230. In an embodiment, the transom section 142 and the extended transom section 230 may be thought of as a single section.
  • Preferably, at least a portion of the lower side of the transom section 142 is flat. Likewise, preferably at least a portion of the lower side of the bow section 153 is flat. In this manner, thrusters 124, 127, and 130 may be mounted, respectively, to the flat lower sides of the transom section 142 and bow section 153. The transom section 142 and the bow section 153 are of a relatively thinner depth than the center section 147. In one embodiment of the Elevating Support Vessel 100, the transom section 142 and the bow section 153 are at least half as deep as the center section 147. The center section 147 may be of a uniform curvature or generally flat. Preferably, the center section 147 has additional slopes (not shown) to accommodate the spud cans 134, 137, and 140.
  • The sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 are of a length along the depth and horizontal axes and angle sufficient such that the thrusters 124, 127, and 130 may be mounted with the necessary. Preferably, the angle of the sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 with respect to the bottom of the hull is sufficient to allow efficient flow of water through the thrusters. In one embodiment, the angle of the sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 with respect to the bottom of the hull will vary depending on the requirements of the thrusters. For example, the angle of the sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 with respect to the bottom of the hull is preferably between about 15 and about 30 degrees, alternatively between about 17 and about 25 degrees, alternatively between 18 and 22 degrees, and alternatively about 20 degrees.
  • With respect to FIG. 1A, and in an alternative embodiment, the sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 comprise a series of graduated slopes. In a preferred embodiment, the sloped transom section 145 and the sloped bow section 150 each comprise an alpha slope, a beta slope, and a gamma slope. The alpha slope is preferably of such an angle to allow sufficient water flow into the thrusters 124, 127, (not shown) and 130. The alpha slope will have an angle generally dependent upon the size of the thrusters 124, 127, (not shown) and 130 and the length of the hull. In an embodiment, the alpha slope is between about 15 and about 25 degrees, preferably about 20 degrees. The beta slope is preferably of an angle lesser than the alpha slope. In this manner, the beta slope acts as a transition slope between the alpha slope and gamma slope, and reduces the stress on the hull. In an embodiment, the beta slope is between about 10 and about 15 degrees, and preferably about 13 degrees. The gamma slope is preferably of an angle lesser than the beta slope. In this manner, the gamma slope acts as a transition slope between the beta slope and the center section 147, and reduces the stress on the hull. In an embodiment, the gamma slope is between about 5 and about 10 degrees, and preferably about 6 or about 7 degrees.
  • Continuing with reference to FIG. 1A, all edges and/or corners of the hull 103 are radial, or rounded. Without wishing to be bound by the theory, it is generally thought that the hull having radial edges reduces drag and is more hydrodynamic.
  • The hull 103 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is preferably made of 355 MPa steel. In an embodiment, the hull 103 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is from about 5 to about 15 meters deep, and preferably about 7.5 meters deep from the lowest point until the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. At full displacement the air gap is preferably about 11 meters, alternatively about 12.5 meters, alternatively about 13.5 meters, and alternatively about 15.5 meters.
  • In an embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 weighs about 6,800 metric tons at light ship. In this embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel exerts a minimum of about 345 kilopascals per leg on the sea floor. The Elevating Support Vessel 100 may vary in weight from about 4,500 metric tons to about 11,000 metric tons at light ship. Alternatively, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may vary in weight from about 6,800 metric tons to about 15,500 metric tons at full ship, and preferably from about 9,000 metric tons to about 13,500 metric tons.
  • Jack-Up Legs
  • The three jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 may have a lattice, truss, or tubular configuration. Preferably, the jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 may withstand greater than about 5 meter waves, alternatively greater than about 10 meter waves, and more preferably, greater than about 15 meter waves. The jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 may withstand greater than about 50 knot winds, preferably greater than about 75 knot winds, and most preferably greater than about 100 knot winds. The jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 may be able to withstand a wave period of about 13.5 seconds. The dimensions of the jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 may vary depending on many factors, including the location of the platform or wells to be serviced. In an embodiment, the jack-up legs 133, 136, and 139 have an overall leg length of at least 100 meters, alternatively about 127 meters, an about 2.7 meter safety zone, a 7.5 meter leg tower, and an estimated sea bed penetration of about 3 to about 8.3 meters. This embodiment may yield a working water depth of from about 60 meters to about 90 meters, and alternatively a working water depth of from about 60 meters to about 75 meters.
  • Azimuthing Thrusters
  • With reference to FIG. 1, FIG. 1A, and FIG. 2, two of the azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 are mounted to the underside of the transom section 142 and along the horizontal axis behind the two rear jack-up legs 133 and 136. The two rear azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 may be mounted along the vertical axis of the transom section 142 in a position to avoid the turbulence created by the drag of the rear jack-up legs 133 and 136, and give the greatest maneuverability to the Elevating Support Vessel 100. To increase maneuverability, it is preferred that the two rear azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 are placed as far apart along the vertical axis as possible, however, in an embodiment, the two rear azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 may be placed along the vertical axis of the transom between the two rear jack-up legs 133 and 136. It is also preferred that the two rear azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 are mounted in a location such that at least a portion of the two rear azimuthing thrusters 124 and 127 extend below the hull 103 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In this manner, there is a greater chance that the water flow through the thrusters 124 and 127 is laminar as opposed to turbulent.
  • Continuing with reference to FIG. 1, FIG. 1A, and FIG. 2, the front azimuthing thruster 130 is preferably mounted to the underside of the bow section 153. Preferably, the front azimuthing thruster 130 is mounted ahead of the front jack-up leg 139 along the horizontal axis. In this manner, the front azimuthing thruster 130 avoids the turbulence created by the front jack-up leg 139. However, in an alternative embodiment, the front azimuthing thruster 130 may be mounted behind the front jack-up leg 139 along the horizontal axis. The front azimuthing thruster 130 is preferably mounted in a location to provide the Elevating Support Vessel 100 the greatest maneuverability. In an embodiment, the front thruster 130 is mounted in a location along the center of the bow section 153 along the vertical axis and toward the front-most portion of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 along the horizontal axis. The front azimuthing thruster 130 is also preferably mounted in a location such that at least a portion of the front azimuthing thruster 130 extends beyond the hull 103 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In this manner, there is a greater chance that the water flow through the front thruster 130 is laminar as opposed to turbulent.
  • In an alternative embodiment (not shown), there are two front azimuthing thrusters. In this embodiment, the bow of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is widened—with respect to the configuration shown in FIG. 2—along the vertical axis to such that two front azimuthing thrusters may be mounted parallel along the vertical axis. The bow is also widened such that each of the front azimuthing thrusters may be mounted to the bow of the Elevating Support Vessel 100, along the vertical axis, such that their exhaust straddles the front jack-up leg 139. The two front azimuthing thrusters are preferably mounted to the bow of the Elevating Support Vessel 100, along the horizontal, at a generally front-most location.
  • The azimuthing thrusters 124, 127, and 130 may be any commercially available azimuthing thruster, which may be affixed to the Elevating Support Vessel 100 and provide sufficient horsepower and maneuverability such that the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is self-propelled. Preferably the azimuthing thrusters 124, 127, and 130 are capable of producing between 500 and 4,000 kilo-watts of power, alternatively about 2,500 kilo-watts of power. For example, the thrusters may be SP 35 azimuthing thrusters having a ducted propeller, available from Steerporp Ltd., located in Rauma, Finland. The Elevating Support Vessel 100 may have a maximum speed of from about 5 knots to about 10 knots, or greater than about 7 knots.
  • Crane Support and Crane
  • FIGS. 3, 4, and 8 illustrate a crane support 109, a crane 112, and tracks 156 disposed on the deck 106 of an Elevating Support Vessel 100. The crane support 109 must be of a size and strength to support the crane 112. The crane support 109 is a table-like structure having at least two crane-support legs 159, preferably four crane-support legs 159, and a crane-support platform 162. The crane-support legs 159 are attached to the crane-support platform 162 at one end. Preferably, the crane-support legs 159 are welded to the crane-support platform 162. At the other end, the crane-support legs 159 are attached to the tracks 156, alternatively the crane-support legs 159 are attached to crane-leg shoes 168. The connection between the crane-support legs 159, crane-leg shoes 168, and the tracks 156 is discussed in more detail below. The crane-support legs 159 are of a length such that the lower side of the crane-support platform 162 is at least about 2 meters for example about 3 meters, from the deck 106. Alternatively, the crane-support legs 159 are of a length such that the lower side of the crane-support platform 162 is at least about 6 meters from the deck 106. In yet another embodiment, the crane-support legs 159 are of a length such that the lower side of the crane-support platform 162 is at least about 9 meters from the deck 106.
  • The crane-support legs 159 may be triangular shaped with the top end of the leg being thicker than the bottom end of the leg. The crane-support legs 159 may be made of double girder steel, alternatively an I shaped steel beam may be used. The crane-support platform 162 may be generally rectangular or square shape, and is preferably a lattice of support beams designed to be light-weight yet strong.
  • A crane-support column 165 is connected at one end to the crane-support platform 162. Preferably, the crane-support column 165 is welded into the center of the crane-support platform 162. In this manner, the weight of the crane 112 is distributed as evenly as possible across the crane-support structure 109. The crane 112 is rotatably affixed to the other end of the crane-support column 165. By rotatably affixed it is meant that the connection between the crane 112 and the crane-support column 165 permits the crane 112 to rotate about the radius of the crane-support column 165 from a first location to a second location.
  • The crane support 109, and its components, may weigh from about 150 metric tons to about 300 metric tons, and more preferably about 170 metric tons. The crane support 109, and its components, are preferably made of steel, and are more preferably 355 MPa medium strength steel.
  • The crane 112 may vary generally in size, and preferably has a 280 metric ton capacity at 20 meters. Alternatively, the crane has at least a 50 metric ton capacity at 20 meters, alternatively at least a 100 metric ton capacity at 20 meters, alternatively at least a 200 metric ton capacity at 20 meters, alternatively at least a 300 metric ton capacity at 20 meters, alternatively at least a 350 metric ton capacity at 20 meters, and alternatively at least a 500 metric ton capacity at 20 meters. A suitable crane 112 is a PC 250HD crane, which is commercially available from Australia Favelle Favco Cranes Pty. Ltd., located in Australia.
  • Crane Support Tracks
  • The tracks 156 may vary in length, but preferably run along the horizontal axis from the rear of the transom to a location generally behind the rear jack-up legs 124 and 127. In an embodiment, the tracks run along the horizontal axis from the rear of the transom to a length of about 20 meters, alternatively about 15 meters, alternatively about 10 meters. The tracks 156 are spaced apart from one another, along the vertical axis, at a distance such that the crane-support platform 162 may be large enough to evenly and safely distribute the weight of the crane 112 under load. Additionally, the tracks 156 are spaced apart from one another, along the vertical axis, at a distance such that there is room to store a variety of equipment and things beneath the crane-support platform 162 and between the tracks 156. The tracks 156 may be about 10 meters apart, along the vertical axis, alternatively about 15 meters apart, alternatively about 20 meters apart, alternatively about 25 meters apart. The tracks 156 must be sturdy to carry the weight of the crane-support 109, crane 112, and load. Accordingly, the tracks 156 preferably extend through the entire depth of the transom and are integral with the Elevating Support Vessel 100. Applicants believe, without wishing to be bound by the theory, that the tracks 156 absorb little to no dynamic moments or forces. Instead, the connection between the crane-support legs 159 and the track 156 permits the forces to be distributed in simple static directions.
  • The connection between the track 156 and the crane-support legs 159 is described with reference to FIG. 5. The crane-support legs 159 may be secured to crane-leg shoes 168. The track 156 may be of a general T-shape, wherein the post of the T extends through the transom 142 of the deck 106. The top of the T-shaped track 156 is in communication with the crane-leg shoe 168, which is of a female shape designed to fit about the top of the T-shaped track 156. There must be enough space between the top of the T-shaped track 156 and the crane-leg shoe 168 such that the crane support 109 may slide along the track. In a preferred embodiment, there is about a 3 millimeter gap between the top of the T-shaped track 156 and the crane-leg shoe 168. The T-shaped portion of the track 156 may be between about 30 centimeters and about 60 centimeters in width, and preferably about 40 centimeters. The tracks 156 may run the entire length of the deck 106 onto the extended transom 230, or the tracks 156 may run a shorter length of the deck 106 stopping before the extended transom 230.
  • In an embodiment, the track 156 includes at one end, alternatively at either end, a stop 157. The stop 157 prevents the crane-leg shoe 168 from sliding off the track 156. The stop 157 is preferably from about two to three times as wide as the track 156, and in an embodiment about 1 meter. Preferably the stop 157 is from about 40 centimeters to about 80 centimeters in length, and preferably about 60 centimeters. The stop 157 may run the depth from the deck 106 to the top of the T-shaped portion of the track 156, alternatively the stop 157 may extend below the deck 106, or be shallower than the depth from the deck 106 to the top of the T-shaped portion of the track 156. The stop 157 may have protrusions 158 extending in the depth axis about eight to about 20 centimeters, preferably about 10 centimeters. The protrusions 158 preferably extend straight up along the depth axis, may be sloped away from each other, or extend up some distance and then slope away from each other.
  • In this manner, the crane 112 may be used in a number of ways. The crane 112 may be moved by skidding the crane support 109 across the tracks 159. The crane 112 may pick up a load from any point along the track 159. Thus, the crane 112 may pick up a load of the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100, or from a location outside of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. The crane 112 may also be rotated 360° about the crane-support column 165 while under full load. The crane 112 may also be skidded along the tracks 159 while under load. Accordingly, the crane 112 may transport load or erect load in a self-contained manner, without need for any additional support vessels. The crane 112 has the additional benefit of allowing for the storage of equipment and things beneath the crane support 109. Because of the high clearance of the crane-support platform 162, the storage of equipment and things will not obstruct the movement of the crane 112. Additional uses of the crane 112 are discussed below.
  • Wind Turbine and Methods Thereof
  • A wind turbine (not shown assembled) may be segmented, towed, and transported by the Elevating Support Vessel 100. Preferably, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is also capable of erecting the wind turbine offshore. In an embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is also capable of erecting the wind turbine offshore without assistance from other vessels or equipment located not contained within the Elevating Support Vessel 100.
  • Suitable offshore wind turbines may include the 2.3 mega-watt wind-turbine generator, SWT-2.3-107, available from Siemens Wind Power A/S located in Brande, Demark. Other suitable wind turbines include the 3.6 mega-watt wind-turbine generator, SWT-3.6-107, capable of being planted in up to about 40 meters of water. For the purposes of this disclosure, and by way of example, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 should be assumed to be stowing, transporting, and erecting 3.6 mega-watt wind-turbine generators, unless otherwise stated. Such wind turbines may be segmented in at least three parts before being transported: a wind-turbine column (205 FIG. 1); a wind-turbine nacelle (210 FIG. 3), which includes a generator package for driving the turbine blades and a hub for mounting the turbine blades; and at least three wind-turbine blades (215 FIGS. 1 and 3).
  • FIGS. 1, 1A, and 3, illustrate segmented wind turbines stowed on the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In an embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may stow and transport, one, two, three, four, five, or six segmented wind turbines during a single voyage or sailing. In alternative embodiments, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may stow and transport more seven or more segmented wind turbines during a single voyage or sailing.
  • The wind-turbine columns 205 may be stowed as a group toward the transom of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 and behind either rear jack-up legs 133 and 136. Preferably, the wind-turbine columns 205 are stowed outside of the tracks 156 so not to impede the movement of the crane support 109 along the tracks 156. In an embodiment, the wind-turbine columns 205 are seated and secured within respective wind-turbine foundations 225 (shown in FIG. 3 without the wind-turbine columns 205). The wind-turbine foundations 225 may be a grid of rectangular I-beams, rectangular I-beams surrounding circular housings, or circular housings, which the wind-turbine columns 205 are secured to by nylon straps, wire ropes, and/or bolts. The wind-turbine foundations 225 may be affixed to the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 by welds or any other suitable means.
  • The wind-turbine nacelles 210 may be stowed on the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In an embodiment, at least one, two, or three wind-turbine nacelles 210 are stowed toward the rear of the transom of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 and behind either rear jack-up legs 133 and 136. In an embodiment, if wind-turbine columns 205 are stowed behind the rear jack-up leg 133, then wind-turbine nacelles 210 are stowed behind the other rear jack-up leg 136, and vice versa. In an embodiment, at least one, two, three, or four of the wind-turbine nacelles 210 are stowed between the tracks 156 and beneath the path of the elevated crane support 109. The wind-turbine nacelles 210, and any supporting packaging, may be of a size such that its height does not impede the movement of the elevated crane support 109 along the tracks 156. In an embodiment, the wind-turbine nacelles 210 may rest directly on the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. Alternatively, the wind-turbine nacelles 210 may rest within packaging, which may rest directly on the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In any event, it is preferable that either the wind-turbine nacelles 210 or any supporting packaging is secured to the deck 106 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 by suitable means including nylon straps or wire ropes.
  • The wind-turbine blades 215 are preferably stowed resting on shipping racks (not shown). These shipping racks preferably each contain three wind-turbine blades 215 stacked in a single vertical column. The shipping racks may be secured by nylon straps or wire ropes to a row, along the horizontal H axis as shown in FIG. 1, of at least two, preferably three, wind-turbine brackets 220 and a column, along the vertical V axis as shown in FIG. 1, of from one to preferably three wind-turbine brackets 220. In an embodiment, there are three rows and three columns of three wind-turbine brackets 220 on either side of the Elevating Support Vessel 100. In this embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 carries up to nine wind-turbine blades 215 in a 3 by 3 matrix of wind-turbine brackets 220 on each of its sides, such that the Elevating Support Vessel may stow and transport up to eighteen wind-turbine blades 215. The lowest row of wind-turbine brackets 220 may be welded, pinned, or otherwise affixed to the deck 106 the Elevating Support Vessel 100. The first bracket in the lowest row of wind-turbine brackets 220 may be secured to the deck 106 the Elevating Support Vessel 100 at a horizontal location in alignment with the extended transom section 230; the second bracket in the lowest row of the wind-turbine brackets 220 may be secured to the deck 106 the Elevating Support Vessel 100 at a horizontal location in alignment with the sloped transom section 145; and third bracket in the lowest row of the wind-turbine brackets 220 may be secured to the deck 106 the Elevating Support Vessel 100 at a horizontal location in alignment with the center section 147. The middle row of wind-turbine brackets 220 is preferably welded, or pinned, to the lowest row of wind-turbine brackets 220. The upper row of wind-turbine brackets 220 is preferably welded, or pinned, to the middle row of wind-turbine brackets 220. Preferably, the three rows of wind-turbine brackets 220 align in three vertical columns.
  • Near location, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may hold station, moor, and/or select a jack-up location by any of the below-described methods. Secured to location, the crane 112 of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may be used to assist in the erection of the wind turbines. In an embodiment, the crane 112 is used to lift a wind-turbine column 205, and secure the wind-turbine column 205 to an offshore wind-turbine base (not shown). The crane 112 may then be used to lift a wind-turbine nacelle 210, and secure the wind-turbine nacelle 210 to the installed wind-turbine column 205. The crane 112 may then be used to lift a wind-turbine blade 215, and secure the wind-turbine blade 215 to the hub of the installed wind-turbine nacelle 210. The crane 112 may be used to deconstruct the installed wind-turbine by the reverse process.
  • Methods of Holding Station
  • The Elevating Support Vessel 100 preferably has the ability to hold station. In an embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 holds station using the azimuthing thrusters. In this embodiment, a set point is determined. A GPS device, preferably in combination with a gyroscope and other attitude measuring devices, provide digital signals to a computer informing the computer how far off from the set point the Elevating Support Vessel 100 has traveled. The computer sends a signal to the azimuthing thrusters, which engages the azimuthing thrusters to correct for the error. Thus, in an embodiment, the azimuthing thrusters of the Elevating Support Vessel 100 are in signal communication with a computer. In an alternative embodiment, any number of the azimuthing thrusters may be in signal communication with a computer, and any number of the azimuthing thrusters may be in signal communication with each other and/or the computer. In these embodiments, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may remain within about a three meter radius from the set point. The ability to hold station is especially important while the legs are being lowered to the sea/ocean floor until the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is supported by its jack-up legs. Preferably, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 can hold station, using only the azimuthing thrusters, in a current of between 0 to about 3 knots. In the embodiment wherein the Elevating Support Vessel 100 holds station during deployment of the jack-up legs, there may be forces acting on the jack-up legs, such as undercurrents. In such situations, the net forces acting on the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is called the effective current, and the Elevating Support Vessel 100 can preferably hold station in an effective current of between 0 to about 3 knots. In these embodiments, the surface current may or may not be above about 3 knots.
  • In another embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 may hold station using the azimuthing thrusters in combination with a mooring system. This embodiment is especially preferable if the current, or effective current, is greater than about 3 knots. The mooring system is preferably either a two or four-point mooring system, and a four-point mooring system is preferred in effective currents over about 3 knots.
  • In a two-point mooring system, a first anchor is connected to one end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 transom, and a second anchor is connected to the opposite end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 transom. In an alternative two-point mooring system, a first anchor is connected to one end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 bow, and a second anchor is connected to the opposite end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 bow. In a four-point mooring system, a first anchor is connected to one end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 bow, a second anchor is connected to the opposite end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 bow, a third anchor is connected to one end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 transom, and a fourth anchor is connected to the opposite end of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 transom. Preferably, the azimuthing thrusters are used to correct for any deviation should the Elevating Support Vessel 100 deviate from its set point. The azimuthing thrusters are put to greater use in a two-point mooring system than in a four-point mooring system. The use of one, three, and greater than four anchors is also contemplated.
  • In an embodiment, the anchors each weight from about 4.5 megagrams to about 9 megagrams, and preferably about 6.8 megagrams. The anchors are preferably connected to the Elevating Support Vessel 100 by an about 3.8 centimeter thick wire rope, which is from about 760 meter to about 915 meters in length. Alternatively the anchors are connected to the Elevating Support Vessel 100 by a chain, or a combination of a wire rope and chain, which is from about 760 meter to about 915 meters in length.
  • In an embodiment, the crane 112 is used to retract the anchor. In this embodiment, once the first anchor is released from the sea/ocean floor the azimuthing thrusters will be used to correct for the deviation that the Elevating Support Vessel 100 undergoes from the set point. The azimuthing thrusters continue to correct for any deviation from the set point as the additional anchor(s) are retracted. Alternatively, after the first anchor is released from the sea/ocean floor, the azimuthing thrusters serve to hold tension against the other anchors such that the vessel holds station.
  • Method of Selecting a Jack-Up Location
  • A method of selecting a location to jack-up an Elevating Support Vessel 100 is now described. In an embodiment of the method, an Elevating Support Vessel 100 is moved within proximity to an offshore structure, preferably, an oil and gas facility. The Elevating Support Vessel is preferably moved within about 30 meters from the edge of the platform, alternatively within about 20 meters, alternatively within about 10 meters. The Elevating Support Vessel 100 is moved around the platform to obtain a map of the sea floor. Alternatively, or in addition to the map obtained by the Elevating Support Vessel 100, a remote operated vehicle (“ROY”) (not shown) is deployed from the Elevating Support Vessel 100, and images the sea floor. The map of the sea floor is then used to determine a suitable location to lower the jack-up legs. Preferably, the location selected does not contain pits caused by previous jack-up vessels, commonly referred to as “can holes”, debris, pipe ties, or other obstructions. Once in location, the legs of the Elevating. Support Vessel 100 are jacked-up, and the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is raised out of the water.
  • The ROV may be an unmanned submersible. Preferably, the ROV can dive below the surface of the water and obtain detailed images of the sea floor using a side acoustic scanner and/or bottom contour sonar, and the like equipment. The ROV may have a range of from about 30 meters to about 300 meters, or more, which may permit the Elevating Support Vessel 100 to remain at a distance further away from the platform such as at least about 30 meters, alternatively at least about 50 meters, alternatively at least about 100 meters. In an embodiment, the ROV has an umbilical cord that carries power to it, as well as electrical signals and data to and from the Elevating Support Vessel 100. Alternatively, the ROV can be remotely controlled.
  • The sea floor may be mapped using any depth finding device and method, and is preferably mapped using side acoustic scanning and/or multi-beam echo scanning. Side acoustic scanning is similar to sonar, in that sound waves are transmitted out to a target area, i.e., the sea floor. The time for the sound waves to travel out to the target area and back to receiver of the side acoustic scanning device is used to determine the range to the target. The distance that the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is from the platform when mapping the sea floor will depend on the optimum range of the mapping device, i.e., side acoustic scanner. The Elevating Support Vessel 100 is preferably far enough from the platform's edge to ensure safe movement, yet close enough to the platform's edge to obtain a map of the sea floor. A preferred depth finding device and method is the use of a SeaBeam 1185 in conjunction with HYPACK™ software. Such a system is available from L-3 Communications Corporation located in New York, N.Y. HYPACK™ is a registered trademark of Coastal Oceanographics, Inc., located in Middlefield, Conn.
  • The reach of the Elevating Support Vessel's 100 onboard skiddable crane permits the Elevating Support Vessel 100 to select a position further away from the platform than previously possible. In an embodiment, the Elevating Support Vessel 100 is located and jacked-up between about 7 and about 14 meters from the edge of the platform, alternatively from about 15 meters to about 20 meters, and alternative at most about 23 meters from the edge of the platform.
  • While specific alternatives to steps of the invention have been described herein, additional alternatives not specifically disclosed but known in the art are intended to fall within the scope of the invention. Thus, it is understood that other applications of the present invention will be apparent to those skilled in the art upon reading the described embodiment and after consideration of the appended claims and drawings.

Claims (12)

1) A vessel comprising:
a hull having a hull periphery, wherein the hull periphery has a bow, a center section, a transom, an extended transom, a bow sloped section between the bow and the center section, and a transom sloped section between the transom and the center section, and the transom is wider, along the vertical axis, than the bow, and the bow and transom are at least half as deep as the center section;
at least two rear jack-up legs movably attached to the hull;
at least one forward jack-up leg movably attached to the hull;
a powered jacking mechanism connected to each of the jack-up legs for elevating and lowering each jack up leg relative to the hull between elevated and lowered positions;
at least two rear azimuthing thrusters affixed to a lower side of the transom;
at least one front azimuthing thruster affixed to a lower side of the bow;
at least four wind-turbine-column foundations; and
at least two wind-turbine-blade brackets individually affixed to the side of the transport vessel.
2) The vessel of claim 1 further comprising:
a crane support having at least two vertical members with each vertical member having a first and second end, the first end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first track, the first end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second track, the first and second tracks are affixed to a deck of the vessel, the second end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first side of a platform, the second end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second side of the platform; and
a column having a proximate and distal end, the proximate end is affixed to the platform, and the crane is rotatably affixed to the distal end of the column, the platform has a lower side disposed at least about 2 meters above the deck, the crane support apparatus is movable along the track.
3) The vessel of claim 1, having at least six wind-turbine-column foundations.
4) The vessel of claim 3, having at least three wind-turbine-blade brackets individually affixed to the side of the transport vessel.
5) The vessel of claim 4, having eighteen wind-turbine blades, six wind-turbine nacelles, and six wind-turbine columns.
6) The vessel of claim 2, having eighteen wind-turbine blades, six wind-turbine nacelles, six wind-turbine columns, and six wind-turbine column foundations, wherein a first three of the six wind-turbine nacelles are stowed behind a first rear jack-up leg, a second three of the six wind-turbine nacelles are stowed between the first and second tracks and the six wind-turbine column foundations are stowed behind a second rear jack-up leg.
7) A method of transporting a wind turbine via a vessel comprising:
securing at least one wind-turbine column to a wind-turbine foundation affixed to the deck of the vessel;
securing at least one wind-turbine nacelle to the deck of the vessel; and
securing at least one wind-turbine blade to at least two wind-turbine-blade brackets, wherein each wind-turbine-blade brackets is individually mounted to a side of the vessel.
8) The method of claim 7, wherein at least four wind-turbines columns are individually secured to at least four wind-turbine foundations.
9) The method of claim 7, wherein at least six wind-turbines columns are individually secured to at least six wind-turbine foundations.
10) A method of erecting a wind turbine offshore comprising:
using a crane to lift a wind-turbine column from a wind-turbine foundation affixed to a deck of a vessel and secure the wind-turbine column to an offshore wind-turbine base, wherein the crane includes a crane support having at least two vertical members with each vertical member having a first and second end, the first end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first track, the first end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second track, the first and second tracks are affixed to a deck of the vessel, the second end of the first vertical member is affixed to a first side of a platform, the second end of the second vertical member is affixed to a second side of the platform; and a column having a proximate and distal end, the proximate end is affixed to the platform, and the crane is rotatably affixed to the distal end of the column, the platform has a lower side disposed at least about 2 meters above the deck, the crane support apparatus is movable along the track;
using the crane to lift a nacelle from the deck of the vessel and secure the nacelle to the wind-turbine column; and
using the crane to lift at least one blade from the vessel and secure the at least one blade to the wind-turbine nacelle.
11) The method of claim 10, wherein the vessel is held in station within ten meters of an offshore wind-turbine base, the method of holding a vessel in station, wherein the vessel has at least three azimuthing thrusters, comprising:
using at least one attitude measuring device to determine an initial position of the vessel, wherein the at least one attitude measuring device is in communication with a computer;
using at least one attitude measuring device to determine subsequent positions of the vessel;
using the computer to measure the subsequent positions of the vessel relative to the initial position;
using the computer to determine an amount of force and a vector direction that must be exerted on the vessel to move the vessel back to the initial position; and
transmitting an electrical signal to the at least three azimuthing thrusters to move the vessel in the determine force and vector direction, wherein the vessel remains within at least a five meter radius from the initial position.
12. The method of claim 10, wherein a jack-up location is selected prior to erecting the wind turbine offshore, the method of selecting a jack-up location comprising:
moving the vessel within proximity to an offshore wind-turbine base;
mapping at least a portion of a sea floor near the offshore wind-turbine base;
using the mapped portion of the sea floor to determine a jack-up location;
moving the vessel to the determined jack-up location; and
jacking-up the vessel.
US12/554,651 2007-03-30 2009-09-04 Vessel for transporting wind turbines and methods thereof Abandoned US20100067989A1 (en)

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US92096507P true 2007-03-30 2007-03-30
US3081508P true 2008-02-22 2008-02-22
US12/079,309 US20080237173A1 (en) 2007-03-30 2008-03-26 Arm assembly and methods of passing a pipe from a first vessel to a second vessel using the arm assembly
US12/554,651 US20100067989A1 (en) 2007-03-30 2009-09-04 Vessel for transporting wind turbines and methods thereof

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US20080237171A1 (en) * 2007-03-30 2008-10-02 Remedial (Cyprus) Pcl Methods of positioning an elevating support vessel
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US20100293781A1 (en) * 2009-05-22 2010-11-25 Kok Seng Foo Offshore wind turbine installation
US20110219614A1 (en) * 2010-02-08 2011-09-15 GeoSea N.V. Method and device for assembling a wind turbine at sea
US20120128430A1 (en) * 2010-10-21 2012-05-24 Conocophillips Company Ice worthy jack-up drilling unit with pre-loading tension system
US20130180444A1 (en) * 2010-09-24 2013-07-18 Technip France Offshore wind turbine installation vessel
US8613569B2 (en) 2008-11-19 2013-12-24 Efficient Engineering, Llc Stationary positioned offshore windpower plant (OWP) and the methods and means for its assembling, transportation, installation and servicing
US8747026B2 (en) * 2010-09-01 2014-06-10 Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre Pte Ltd Installation vessel
ES2468765A1 (en) * 2012-12-14 2014-06-16 Universidade Da Coru�A Marine platform for treatment of dredging sludge (Machine-translation by Google Translate, not legally binding)
US20140165347A1 (en) * 2012-12-17 2014-06-19 Alstom Technology Ltd System and method for manufacturing rotors
US20150023737A1 (en) * 2013-07-19 2015-01-22 A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S Jack-up rig and method of installing the same on location of operation
WO2015057081A1 (en) * 2013-10-16 2015-04-23 Emas-Amc As A method and apparatus for overboarding of a subsea structure
KR20160004808A (en) 2014-07-04 2016-01-13 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure having variable weight tank
KR20160014286A (en) 2014-07-29 2016-02-11 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure
KR20160033985A (en) 2014-09-19 2016-03-29 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure and control method thereof
CN106499590A (en) * 2016-12-14 2017-03-15 广东明阳风电产业集团有限公司 A kind of offshore lifting method of ultra-compact two blade wind power generations unit
US10302068B2 (en) 2016-10-31 2019-05-28 Zentech, Inc. Conversion of movable offshore drilling structure to wind turbine application
US10385827B2 (en) 2014-12-23 2019-08-20 Mhi Vestas Offshore Wind A/S Wind turbine blade handling aboard a vessel
WO2020001721A1 (en) * 2018-06-27 2020-01-02 Mhi Vestas Offshore Wind A/S Preassembly system and method for optimal positioning of tower structures
US10544015B1 (en) * 2018-07-10 2020-01-28 GeoSea N.V. Device and method for lifting an object from a deck of a vessel subject to movements
US10544016B2 (en) * 2016-09-15 2020-01-28 Itrec B.V. Crane, vessel comprising such a crane, and a method for up-ending a longitudinal structure

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Cited By (25)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US20080237171A1 (en) * 2007-03-30 2008-10-02 Remedial (Cyprus) Pcl Methods of positioning an elevating support vessel
US20080243365A1 (en) * 2007-03-30 2008-10-02 Remedial (Cyprus) Pcl Methods of holding station and mooring and elevating support vessel
US7815398B2 (en) * 2007-03-30 2010-10-19 Remedial Cayman Limited Methods of positioning an elevating support vessel
US8613569B2 (en) 2008-11-19 2013-12-24 Efficient Engineering, Llc Stationary positioned offshore windpower plant (OWP) and the methods and means for its assembling, transportation, installation and servicing
US20100293781A1 (en) * 2009-05-22 2010-11-25 Kok Seng Foo Offshore wind turbine installation
US8640340B2 (en) * 2009-05-22 2014-02-04 Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre Pte Ltd Offshore wind turbine installation
US20110219614A1 (en) * 2010-02-08 2011-09-15 GeoSea N.V. Method and device for assembling a wind turbine at sea
US8661668B2 (en) * 2010-02-08 2014-03-04 GeoSea N.V. Method and device for assembling a wind turbine at sea
US8747026B2 (en) * 2010-09-01 2014-06-10 Keppel Offshore & Marine Technology Centre Pte Ltd Installation vessel
US20130180444A1 (en) * 2010-09-24 2013-07-18 Technip France Offshore wind turbine installation vessel
US20120128430A1 (en) * 2010-10-21 2012-05-24 Conocophillips Company Ice worthy jack-up drilling unit with pre-loading tension system
US8851799B2 (en) * 2010-10-21 2014-10-07 Conocophillips Company Ice worthy jack-up drilling unit with pre-loading tension system
ES2468765A1 (en) * 2012-12-14 2014-06-16 Universidade Da Coru�A Marine platform for treatment of dredging sludge (Machine-translation by Google Translate, not legally binding)
US20140165347A1 (en) * 2012-12-17 2014-06-19 Alstom Technology Ltd System and method for manufacturing rotors
US20150023737A1 (en) * 2013-07-19 2015-01-22 A.P. Møller - Mærsk A/S Jack-up rig and method of installing the same on location of operation
WO2015057081A1 (en) * 2013-10-16 2015-04-23 Emas-Amc As A method and apparatus for overboarding of a subsea structure
KR20160004808A (en) 2014-07-04 2016-01-13 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure having variable weight tank
KR20160014286A (en) 2014-07-29 2016-02-11 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure
KR20160033985A (en) 2014-09-19 2016-03-29 삼성중공업 주식회사 Floating structure and control method thereof
US10385827B2 (en) 2014-12-23 2019-08-20 Mhi Vestas Offshore Wind A/S Wind turbine blade handling aboard a vessel
US10544016B2 (en) * 2016-09-15 2020-01-28 Itrec B.V. Crane, vessel comprising such a crane, and a method for up-ending a longitudinal structure
US10302068B2 (en) 2016-10-31 2019-05-28 Zentech, Inc. Conversion of movable offshore drilling structure to wind turbine application
CN106499590A (en) * 2016-12-14 2017-03-15 广东明阳风电产业集团有限公司 A kind of offshore lifting method of ultra-compact two blade wind power generations unit
WO2020001721A1 (en) * 2018-06-27 2020-01-02 Mhi Vestas Offshore Wind A/S Preassembly system and method for optimal positioning of tower structures
US10544015B1 (en) * 2018-07-10 2020-01-28 GeoSea N.V. Device and method for lifting an object from a deck of a vessel subject to movements

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