WO2003057556A1 - Multifunctional catamaran shape vessel - Google Patents

Multifunctional catamaran shape vessel Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2003057556A1
WO2003057556A1 PCT/NL2003/000009 NL0300009W WO03057556A1 WO 2003057556 A1 WO2003057556 A1 WO 2003057556A1 NL 0300009 W NL0300009 W NL 0300009W WO 03057556 A1 WO03057556 A1 WO 03057556A1
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WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
vessel
floating
support
line
floats
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/NL2003/000009
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Joop Roodenburg
Gerrit Van Wijk
Original Assignee
Itrec B.V.
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Priority to NL1019716 priority Critical
Priority to NL1019716A priority patent/NL1019716C2/en
Application filed by Itrec B.V. filed Critical Itrec B.V.
Publication of WO2003057556A1 publication Critical patent/WO2003057556A1/en

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Classifications

    • 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
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B75/00Building or assembling floating offshore structures, e.g. semi-submersible platforms, SPAR platforms or wind turbine platforms
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B63SHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; RELATED EQUIPMENT
    • B63BSHIPS OR OTHER WATERBORNE VESSELS; EQUIPMENT FOR SHIPPING 
    • B63B1/00Hydrodynamic or hydrostatic features of hulls or of hydrofoils
    • B63B1/02Hydrodynamic or hydrostatic features of hulls or of hydrofoils deriving lift mainly from water displacement
    • B63B1/04Hydrodynamic or hydrostatic features of hulls or of hydrofoils deriving lift mainly from water displacement with single hull
    • B63B2001/044Hydrodynamic or hydrostatic features of hulls or of hydrofoils deriving lift mainly from water displacement with single hull with a small waterline area compared to total displacement, e.g. of semi-submersible type
    • 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
    • B63B35/44Floating buildings, stores, drilling platforms, or workshops, e.g. carrying water-oil separating devices
    • B63B2035/442Spar-type semi-submersible structures, i.e. shaped as single slender, e.g. substantially cylindrical or trussed vertical bodies

Abstract

The present invention relates to a vessel (1) comprising a floating body, (2, 3) on the top of which there are a superstructure (7, 8, 25, 26, 35, 36) and a deck as well as ballast means for varying the buoyancy of the floating body (2, 3) and for moving the floating body (2, 3), relative to the surface of the water in which the floating body is floating, between a high position with the top of the floating body (2, 3) above the water surface and a low position with the top of the floating body (2, 3) below the water surface and the superstructure (7, 8, 25, 26, 35, 36) partially above the water surface, wherein the deck is at the level of the top of the floating body (2, 3). What is achieved according to the invention is that the vessel has a surface area that cuts through the water only on columns protruding partially above the water. As a result the vessel is very little influenced by being struck by waves. Thus it is possible to position loads on the columns and to remove loads from the columns in a controlled manner.

Description

MULTIFUNCTIONAL CATAMARAN SHAPE VESSEL

The present invention relates to a vessel comprising a floating body, on the top of which there are a superstructure and a deck, as well as ballast means for varying the buoyancy of the floating body and for moving the floating body, relative to the surface of the water in which the floating body is floating, between a high position with the top of the floating body above the water surface and a low position with the top of the floating body below the water surface and the superstructure partially above the water surface.

The vessel according to the present invention can be used, inter alia, as a transport vessel and or lifting vessel. With the aid of the adjustment means, such as, for example, ballast tanks, the vessel can be moved up and down in the water. If the ballast tanks- are allowed to fill, the vessel will lower. In this position the vessel can be positioned underneath a load. If the ballast tanks are then pumped out again, the vessel will rise again. In this way the upward force of the water on the vessel is utilised for lifting heavy loads. A lifting vessel of this type is disclosed in US Patent US 5 403 124. This patent describes a lifting vessel which, as far as the superstructure is concerned, is similar to a semi-submersible. The vessel is provided with two floats which are connected with the aid of columns or pillars to a deck arranged above them. The space between the floats is open. Ballast tanks for adjusting the buoyancy of the floats are fitted in the floats. With the aid of the ballast tanks in the floats the deck can be allowed to move up and down and in this way a lifting force can be exerted by means of the deck.

It is true that the known vessel can move up and down, but the top of the deck will protrude above the water level, even in the lowest position of the vessel. This appreciably restricts the possible uses of the known vessel. After all, using the known vessel it is possible only to exert forces on objects which are above water and not on objects which themselves are also floating in the water.

Furthermore, the rigidity of the vessel according to US 5403 124 is limited. The upward force of the water acts on the floats which are connected to the deck with the aid of the columns. The connections between the columns and, respectively, the floats and the deck will be subjected to very severe stress. As a result of these high forces there is a high risk that the floats will move relative to the deck during use.

The aim of the present invention is to provide a vessel of the type mentioned in the preamble which has a wider range of possible uses than the vessels according to the state of the art. A further aim of the invention is to provide such a vessel that can be manoeuvred more accurately than the vessels according to the state of the art.

According to the invention said aim is firstly achieved in that the deck is at the level of the top of the floating body. In other words, the vessel according to the invention has a floating body, the top of which forms the deck, said floating body including the deck being able to disappear completely underwater.

Because the floating bodies and thus the deck can be submerged, the vessel according to the invention can also sail below objects which are in the water. This is not possible with the vessel according to US 5 403 124. As a result the possible uses of the vessel according to the invention are more extensive than those of the vessel according to the state of the art.

According to the invention it is furthermore possible that the floating body comprises two parallel floats joined to one another (catamaran), the deck extending over and between the two floats. Because the vessel according to the invention is constructed as a catamaran, the possible uses are further increased. In the highest position only the floats will make contact with the water. In the highest position the sailing characteristics of the vessel are not adversely affected by the connection between the two floats.

It is pointed out that the vessel according to US 5 403 124 is also constructed with two floats. These floats are connected via columns to a deck at a higher level. According to the invention, however, the floats are connected directly to one another at the level of the top of the floats. A very rigid and strong construction of the vessel is possible as a result. Such a rigid construction is not possible in the case of the vessel according to US 5 403 124. Furthermore, it is advantageous that the floats are connected to one another by means of a hollow construction which provides supplementary buoyancy. By increasing the buoyancy of the vessel, the lifting capacity of the vessel is also increased.

The vessel according to the invention is suitable for many different types of task.

Therefore it is advantageous that there is a recessed area at one end between the floats. As a result of this recessed area an object can be placed between the floats during lifting, transporting and positioning of said object. As a consequence of the recessed area, the vessel is essentially U-shaped in plan view.

According to the invention provision is also made for the superstructure to have at least one fixed column which can be provided with steering means, accommodation and the like. Furthermore, the superstructure has at least one support column that is provided at the top with a supporting surface for a load.

With this arrangement it is advantageous if the support columns are detachably fitted on the floating body. This has the advantage that the support columns can be removed from the vessel at the point in time when they are not needed. This makes a difference in weight and, furthermore, space is made free on the deck in this way.

Furthermore, it is advantageous if the position of the support columns on the floating body is adjustable. The construction of the vessel according to the invention is so rigid and so strong that the position of the support columns on the floating bodies can be freely chosen. The support columns can be placed in an optimum position on the vessel, depending on the load that has to be transported.

In order to secure the support columns to the vessel it is desirable that the vessel has means for fixing the support columns to the top of the floating body. According to the invention it is possible that the open space between the two floating bodies is filled by so-called hatches in order to increase the effective surface area of the deck. According to the invention provision is made that these hatches can be fixed to the side of the floats. In this case the volume of the vessel is appreciably increased at this location. As a result the lifting capacity of the vessel will be increased at the location of the hatches.

The support columns can be positioned close to the stern of the vessel. The fixed columns, with the crew accommodation therein, are at the bow of the vessel.

In one possible embodiment of the vessel according to the invention the vessel is essentially rectangular in plan view. At the four corner points of this rectangle there are, respectively, at least two support columns at the stern of the vessel, the top of which support columns is used as a lifting surface. It is, of course, possible to fit more than two support columns on the vessel. At the bow of the vessel there are two columns which can be used for storage of materials and for housing the crew. In this way an essentially symmetrical configuration is produced, with respect to the longitudinal axis of the vessel. According to the invention it is advantageous if the vessel has coupling means, provided with a line, for coupling the vessel to a second floating object, such as a spar, the coupling means comprising drive means, such as a winch, for exerting tension on the line, which drive means are provided with resilient means for paying out the line if a set maximum value for the tension is exceeded, in order by this means to compensate for movements of the vessel relative to the second object. With this arrangement it is advantageous that the resilient means are provided with adjustment means for adjusting the set maximum value of the tension on the line. For the sake of clarity it is pointed out that the term "resilient means" is used to refer to means which are able to exert a fixed set tension on the lines (constant tension), but which are also capable of paying out the wire if a set maximum value for the tension is exceeded.

Furthermore, according to the invention provision is made for the adjustment means to be equipped to allow the set maximum value of the tension on the line to increase from an initial value to an end value.

As a result of these measures it is possible to couple the vessel according to the invention to a second object, before a load is transferred from the vessel to said spar. It is also possible to make a connection between the vessel and said second object before a load is transferred from the second object to the vessel.

The second object can be a floating object, such as a spar. The second object can also be a fixed object, such as a jacket that is fixed on the sea bed.

When a load is transferred from the vessel to a second floating object, the vessel and the second object will, under the influence of the waves, the wind and the current, in the first instance move differently with respect to terra firma and the vessel and the second object move relative to one another. When transferring a load from the vessel to the second object, or vice versa, there is in that case a risk that one of the parts will be damaged.

In order to prevent damage of this type it is possible according to the invention to adjust the resilience characteristics in the coupling means stepwise or uniformly in order slowly but surely to equalise the movement of the vessel and the second object. Only at the point in time when the vessel is moving in the same way as the second object with respect to terra firma is it then possible to transfer a load from the vessel to the second object or, using the vessel, to pick up a load that has been placed on the second object.

Several lines are spanned between the vessel according to the invention and the second object. With the aid of a first group of lines the movement of the vessel and the second object in the horizontal direction is controlled. As will be explained in the drawings, the lines are spanned all round the second object. A certain tension is applied to the lines. This tension is slowly but surely increased in order to ensure that the vessel and the second object increasingly start to move as a system and no longer move relative to one another.

According to the invention provision is made for the lines, which are used for synchronisation in the horizontal direction, to be provided with measurement means for measuring the tension on the lines, which measurement means are actively connected to the drive of the vessel. Should the forces on the lines on one side of the second object become too high, the position of the vessel with respect to the second object can then be corrected with the aid of the vessel drive. This means that the force signal on the lines is used as input signal for controlling the drive. Peak stressing of the lines is prevented in this way. In addition to the first group of lines for correction in the horizontal direction, a second group of lines is also spanned between the vessel and the second object for controlling the relative movement of the vessel with respect to the second object in the vertical direction. The tension on this second group of lines is also slowly but surely increased in order to minimise the differences in movement. Should an unforeseen peak stress arise on this second group of lines it is then not possible to compensate for the relative movement using, for example, the screw of the vessel. Peak stresses on this second group of lines lead to temporary paying out of the lines in order to prevent overstressing of the lines.

According to the invention it is possible that the resilient means comprise a hydraulic cylinder which is connected to an oil reservoir. The oil reservoir is used for discharging fluid from the reservoir to the cylinder. Via a movable wall, the reservoir adjoins a closed chamber that is filled with gas, such as air or nitrogen. The volume of the chamber is adjustable, in order to vary the stiffness of the gas spring. With this arrangement it is possible that the chamber is connected to a gas line that is connected via shut-off valves to one or more gas bottles.

According to the invention it is furthermore advantageous that the vessel is provided with a lift construction that is provided with a first and a second leg, which legs are positioned, respectively, on the first and the second float, the legs being joined at the top with the aid of a lifting beam, the lift construction further comprising lifting means, such as a lifting hook and a lifting line, and drive means for driving said lifting means.

The possible uses of the vessel according to the invention are yet further expanded by the presence of the lift construction. Because of the size of the vessel according to the invention and the associated stability of the vessel in the submerged state thereof, very heavy loads can be handled with the lifting means.

It is possible that at least the legs of the lift construction are of modular construction. The lift construction will not always be needed. It is advantageous if the lift construction can be assembled and dismantled in modules. The modules are preferably lifted one by one from the deck of the vessel. This lifting can, for example, take place by lifting up each of the modules between two columns. The winches with the aid of which the modules can be lifted up are positioned in these columns. At the point in time when the first module is lifted, a second module can be placed beneath this module, and so on. In this way the lift construction can be built up step by step and after use dismantled step by step. According to the invention it is possible for the vessel to be provided with a tower or mast, in particular a drilling tower or drilling mast.

By installing a drilling tower or a drilling mast, such as, for example, the Applicant's Multipurpose Tower (MPT), on the vessel, the vessel can be used for drilling activities and when laying pipes on the sea bed. The specific possibilities of the MPT are further explained in the description of Figures 8, 12, 13 and 14.

Because a drilling mast is not needed for all activities with the vessel, it is advantageous that the tower or the mast is housed in a module that is detachably fitted on the vessel. In this context it is preferable that this module is able to float.

In use, the vessel according to the invention can be sailed, in the submerged state, underneath the floating module. The vessel is then moved upwards, so that the module is in the correct position on the vessel. This means that no heavy cranes or other lifting means are needed in order to place the module on the vessel or to remove it from the vessel.

Furthermore, it is possible that the module also comprises a crane. The invention relates not only to a vessel, but also to a method for placing a load on a support, wherein the load is fixed on a vessel according to the invention. The method according to the invention is characterised in that the vessel is brought into the first position thereof with the aid of the adjustment means. The vessel is then sailed to the support. At the support, the vessel is linked to the support with the aid of coupling means. The coupling means are provided with a spring, for taking up differences in movement between the vessel and the support with respect to terra firma. The spring stiffness of the coupling means is then allowed to increase stepwise or continuously, in order gradually to bring the movement of the vessel into correspondence with the movement of the support. When the movement of the vessel relative to terra firma is identical to that of the support, the vessel is moved into the second position thereof, in order to bring the load vertically downwards onto the support.

The present invention will be further explained with reference to the appended figures, in which: Fig. la shows, in perspective, a view of the vessel according to the invention that is used for positioning a drilling platform on a so-called spar.

Fig. lb shows a plan view of a spar or a mono-hull TLP that is centred between the two floats of the vessel.

Fig. lc shows a rear view of the spar or the mono-hull TLP between the two floats. Fig. Id shows, in table form, the effect of slowly but surely increasing the tension on the lines.

Fig. 2 shows the use of the vessel according to the invention according to Fig. 1, in a front view.

Fig. 3 shows the use of the vessel according to Figures 1 and 2, in a side view. Fig. 4 shows, diagrammatically, the construction of the coupling means between the vessel and a second floating object.

Figs 5a and 5b show the vessel according to the present invention in perspective, the vessel being equipped with lifting means on the stern of the vessel.

Fig. 6 shows, in perspective, the use of the vessel according to the invention as a transport vessel.

Fig. 7 shows the use of the vessel according to the present invention in combination with a ringer crane.

Fig. 8 shows the vessel according to the invention that is equipped as a so-called field completion vessel. Fig. 9 shows the vessel according to the invention that is used as a rescue vessel, for example for salvaging a submarine.

Figures 10a - 1 Of show, stepwise, the positioning of a drilling platform on a spar with the aid of the vessel according to the present invention.

Figures 11a and l ib show, diagrammatically, the transfer of a load from a fixed construction on the quay to the vessel.

Fig. 12 shows a front view of the vessel with a module provided with a mast (MPT) and a crane thereon.

Figures 13 and 14 indicate possible positions of the module on the vessel. Figure 15 shows a side view of the vessel according to the invention with a separate module containing crew accommodation thereon.

In Figure la the vessel 1 according to the present invention is shown in perspective. The vessel 1 comprises a floating body that is made up of two floats 2 and 3 which are joined to one another with the aid of a rigid connection 4. The connection 4 together with the top of the floating bodies 2 and 3 forms a deck. Two support columns 35 and 36 are mounted on the floats 3 at the stern of the vessel 1, viewed in the sailing direction. Two support columns 25 and 26, only the column 25 of which can be seen, are mounted in the same way on the float 2. The tops of these columns 25, 26, 35 and 36 form a lifting surface. In Figure 1 a platform 12 has been placed on the tops of the various columns. As an alternative, a single column can be mounted at the rear of the two floats 2 and 3. This can be seen in Figure 2 and the subsequent figures.

Fixed columns 7 and 8 are also positioned on the front of the floats 2 and 3. The top of tower 7 is constructed as a helicopter pad. The upper portion of the tower 8 is constructed as the bridge of the vessel 1.

A so-called spar 10 is also shown in Figure la. This spar is located in, for example, an oil or gas production field. The spar is held in place with the aid of lines 11. At the bottom of the spar there are connections, such as hoses and pipes (not shown), to connect the spar to, for example, a production well. A platform 12 has been installed on the top of the spar. This platform 12 is usually constructed separately from the spar 10 positioned beneath it and is usually brought to the destination separately from the spar 10. The platform 12 can either be placed on the spar 10 or removed from the spar 10, as desired, with the aid of the vessel 1 according to the present invention. Should it be desired to lift and move the platform 12 using traditional lifting means, such as a crane or a series of hydraulic cylinders, these lifting means would be subjected to very severe stress. This means that the requisite lifting means would not only have to be of large and heavyweight construction, but would also be very expensive. In order to avoid the high costs of such lifting equipment, the vessel 1 is equipped with ballast tanks (not shown). By pumping the ballast tanks full with water the vessel will move downwards in the vertical direction. If the tanks are then pumped out again, the vessel will move upwards again. This vertical upward movement of the vessel is used according to the invention to lift a heavy load, such as a platform 12. In this way a very large lifting force can be generated using relatively simple and inexpensive ballast tanks. To give some idea of the magnitude of the lifting capacity: a lifting capacity of approximately 30,000 tonnes is mobilised with a vessel having a length of approximately 180 metres and having a volume of approximately 200,000 cubic metres. The reverse is, of course, also possible. If a load has been placed on the vessel and the ballast tanks in the vessel are then allowed to fill, the vessel, including the load, will move downwards. A load can be set down at its destination in this way.

The vessel 1 according to the invention is so constructed that by allowing the ballast tanks to fill, the floats 2 and 3 are able to move between a first, or high, position in which the top of the floating bodies 2 and 3 protrudes above water and a relatively small part of the vessel 1 extends into the water, and a second, or low, position in which the floats 2 and 3 are completely underwater. In this position only the tops of the columns 25, 26, 35, 36, 7 and 8 protrude above the water.

It can be seen from Figure la that the floats 2 and 3 together with the connecting part 4 together constitute the bulk of the volume of the vessel 1. That is to say, when the vessel is in the lowest position (ballast tanks full) the major part of the vessel is underwater. This means, firstly, that high lifting forces can be achieved with the vessel. Furthermore, the vessel 1 will be stable in this position. The vessel is very little affected by the waves because the surface area of the part that protrudes from the water and cuts through the water is very small. The stability of the vessel in the submerged state is further improved in that the columns 25, 35, 7 and 8 are essentially positioned at the outermost corner points of the vessel 1.

When the vessel 1 is in the lowest position only the tops of the columns 25, 26, 35, 36, 7 and 8 protrude above the water. As a result of the relatively restricted number of columns and as a result of the limited surface area thereof, the surface area between the vessel and the water that cuts through the water in the lowest position is very small. The surface area of a ship that cuts through the water determines the sensitivity of the ship to striking waves. Since the surface area of the vessel 1 that cuts through the water is limited when the vessel is in the lowest position, the vessel 1 will be affected to only a slight extent by the wave pattern of the surrounding water when it is in this submerged position. That is to say that the vessel can be used safely even if there are relatively high waves in the area where the vessel is being used.

It can furthermore be seen in Figure la that the floating body 2, 3, 4 of the vessel 1 is essentially U-shaped in plan view. There is space between the floats 2 and 3 at the stern of the vessel for accommodating the spar 10 therein.

A plan view of the stern of the vessel according to Figure la is shown in Figure lb. The spar 10 is centred between the floats 2, 3 with the aid of lines 190, 191, 192. The lines are connected to resilient means, the resilience characteristics of which are adjustable. The coupling means are used to make the vessel 1 fast to a second floating object, in this case the spar 10. As a consequence of striking waves, the wind and similar effects, the vessel will, in the first instance, move relative to the spar. As a result of the presence of the spring in the coupling means, the coupling means are able to take up the relative movement of vessel and spar. By slowly but surely increasing the spring stiffness, the floating objects 1, 10 are increasingly forced to start to move as a whole. The platform is transferred from the vessel to the spar, or vice versa, only at the point in time when the vessel 1 and the spar 10 move together relative to terra firma. Damage to the vessel, the platform and/or the spar as a consequence of the various objects bumping into one another as a consequence of differences in movement is prevented in this way.

The coupling means comprise a first group of lines 190 (horizontal line) to control the movement of the vessel and the second object in the horizontal direction. The lines are spanned all round the spar 10. A certain tension is applied to the lines. This tension is slowly but surely increased in order to ensure that the vessel and the spar 10 increasingly start to move as one system and no longer move relative to one another.

According to the invention provision is made that the lines 190, which are used for synchronisation in the horizontal direction, are provided with measurement means for measuring the tension on the lines, which measurement means are actively connected to the vessel drive. Should the forces on the lines on one side of the second object become too high, the position of the vessel with respect to the second object can then be corrected with the aid of the vessel drive. This means that the force signal on the lines is used as input signal for controlling the drive. Peak stress on the lines is prevented in this way.

In addition to the first group of lines for correction in the horizontal direction, there is also a second group of lines 191, 192 spanned between the vessel and the second object for controlling the relative movement of the vessel with respect to the second object in the vertical direction. The tension on this second group of lines 191, 192 is also slowly but surely increased in order to minimise the differences in movement. Should an unforeseen peak stress arise in this second group of lines, it is then not possible to compensate for the relative movement using, for example, the vessel screw. Peak stresses on this second group of lines lead to temporary paying out of the lines in order to prevent overstressing of the lines.

Figure lc shows a stern view of the vessel according to Figure lb. The fixing of the respective lines 190, 191 and 192 in the floats 2 and 3 can be seen in Figure lc.

In Figure Id the effect of slowly but surely increasing the tension on the lines 191, 192 (vertical direction) is shown in a graph. In graph (a) it can be seen in the left-hand part of the graph that relative movement of the vessel with respect to the spar is possible. At the point in time when the tension on the lines is increased the relative movement approaches zero. A small ripple can be seen on the right-hand side of graph (a). It can be seen from graph (b) that the associated force on the lines has temporarily exceeded the set maximum. In order to prevent overstressing of the lines, the lines are paid out to some extent.

The construction and the mode of operation of a particular embodiment of the coupling means 9, provided with cylinders, is further explained with reference to Figure 4. In Figure 2 a front view can be seen of a vessel 1 according to Figure 1 that has been brought to just below the drilling platform 12, or just before lifting the drilling platform 12 from the spar 10 positioned beneath it, or just after placing the drilling platform 12 on the spar 10. The floats 2 and 3 with the columns 25 and 35 thereon can again be seen in Figure 2. Figure 3 shows a side view of the set-up according to Figure 2. The levels of the water surface with respect to the vessel 1 are also shown in Figure 3. When the tanks in the floats 2 and 3 have been completely pumped out the water level will be at the height of the line 20. This means that a significant proportion of the floating body 2, 3, 4 and the columns 5, 8 mounted thereon will protrude from the water. When the vessel 1 has been brought into the lowest position, the water level extends at the height of the line 21. This line 21 constitutes the line of maximum submersion of the vessel 1 in the water. In this case only a small portion of the column 5 and only a small portion of the column 8 protrude above the water. It is clear that the cutting surface area between the water and the vessel 1 according to the invention is very small in this position. The coupling means 9, which have already been mentioned when discussing

Figure 1, are shown diagrammatically in Figure 4. The coupling means 9 comprise a line 90, the first end 91 of which is made fast to a floating object such as a spar 10. The second end 92 of the line is connected to the vessel, just like the rest of the coupling means. The line 90 is connected to a spring that is constructed as a piston/cylinder system. The line is kept under pretension with the aid of the piston rod 94. The cylinder 93 is filled with oil, or another suitable fluid. It will be clear that the higher the fluid pressure becomes in the cylinder 93 the higher is the force that can be exerted on the line. The spring in the coupling means 9 is provided with adjustment means for adjusting the resilience characteristics of the spring. These adjustment means are constituted by a fluid reservoir, such as an oil reservoir, for discharging fluid from the cylinder 93 to the reservoir or, respectively, feeding fluid from the reservoir to the cylinder 93. Via a movable wall, this reservoir adjoins a closed chamber that is filled with gas, such as air, the volume of the chamber being adjustable in order to vary the stiffness of the gas spring. The chamber is connected to a gas line, which is connected via shut-off valves 86, 87 and 88 to one or more gas bottles 96, 97 and 98.

The mode of operation of the system is as follows: when force is applied to the line 90 the piston 94 is pushed into the cylinder 93. As a consequence of this the movable wall in the reservoir 95 will want to move downwards. The magnitude of the force on the line is determined by the fluid pressure in the system. The spring stiffness is determined by the magnitude of the gas volume that at the bottom is in contact with the movable wall in the reservoir 95. If all shut-off valves 86, 87 and 88 are open the relative loss of volume as a result of movement of the wall will be so slight that the gas pressure on the right-hand side remains virtually the same. However, the greater the number of shut-off valves that are closed, the greater will be the relative change in volume of the gas volume in the system, and thus the increase in pressure. During use the gas volumes 96, 97 and 98 can be closed off one by one. The resistance to which the piston is subjected during the incoming stroke will consequently increase stepwise. As a consequence of this the vessel and, for example, the spar to which the vessel is connected via the system 9 are slowly but surely forced to start to move as a whole with respect to terra firma.

When the shut-off valves 86, 87 and 88 have been closed the gas volume below the movable wall can be further restricted by also closing the shut-off valve 85. In order to make the spring even stiffer, additional oil can then be pumped from the store 69 into the reservoir 95. A very stiff spring is produced in this way.

Figures 5a and 5b show the variant of the vessel 1 according to the invention where a lifting construction 140 is mounted on the stern of the vessel 1. This construction 140 can be used for lifting, moving and submerging special loads, such as, for example, the bottom section of a pillar for a bridge. With the aid of the construction according to Figures 5a and 5b a load 150 can be shipped to the destination and submerged on site.

A side view of the vessel 1 according to the invention, with the lifting construction 140 thereon, can be seen in Figure 5a. The rear view of the vessel can be seen in Figure 5b. The construction comprises two legs which are each made up of modules 141. The tops of the legs are joined by means of a lifting beam 142. Lifting means 143, 144 are fixed thereto. While erecting the construction 140 the modules 141 are lifted up one by one between the columns 35, 36.

A further use of the vessel 1 according to the invention is shown in Figure 6. Two semi-submersibles 51, 52 are positioned on the top of the floats 2 and 3. In the embodiment according to Figure 6 the vessel 1 according to the invention is used as a transport vessel for moving such semi-submersibles 51 and 52 over large distances. The vessel 1 is, for example, brought into the lowest position thereof and the semi-submersibles are then sailed into position above the deck of the floats 2 and 3. The vessel 1 is then moved into the first highest position thereof in order to lift the semi-submersibles 51, 52 and to place these on the top of the floats 2 and 3. In Figure 6 it can furthermore be seen that in this case the floating bodies 2 and 3 are joined to one another over essentially the entire length thereof by means of a deck. In order to achieve this an intermediate element or hatch 50 is fitted at the back of the floating bodies 2 and 3. This intermediate element 50 increases the effective deck surface area of the vessel 1. As an alternative the hatches can be fixed to the side of the vessel 1. These hatches can be in the shape of a column as well. In this way the buoyancy of the floats at the location of the columns attached to the side is substantially increased.

This means that the stability of the vessel in the submerged state is also appreciably increased.

A further variant of the use of the vessel 1 according to the invention is shown in Figure 7. A first 61 and a second 62 ringer crane, respectively, are installed on the top deck of the floats 2 and 3. By means of this application a lifting ship has been produced with cranes thereon which can be used for numerous applications. When the vessel 1 is used in accordance with Figure 7 it is possible to remove the columns at the rear end of the floating bodies 2 and 3.

Figure 8 shows a variant where the vessel 1 is equipped as a so-called field completion vessel. A mast 81 is positioned on the vessel. This mast 81 is, for example, the Multipurpose Tower (MPT) that is marketed by the Applicant. This MPT is justifiably multi-purpose. The MPT can be used for drilling in the ground with the aid of a conventional drilling string. As an alternative the MPT can be used for drilling with the aid of coiled tubing. Furthermore, the MPT is suitable for laying pipes on the seabed with the aid of the J-lay method. The MPT is also suitable for Flex-lay. Furthermore, the MPT is exceptionally suitable for use for activities in a production field, such as installing a template.

By way of example a crane 82 has also been drawn on the vessel, which crane 82 has been installed on a deck section 83 that is fixed between the rear ends of the floats 2 and 3. Figure 9 shows a further variant, where the vessel 1 is used for salvaging a submarine

100. With the aid of hydraulic cylinders 103 the submarine has been pulled up to just below the deck of the vessel. In this case at least part (101) of the open space between the rear ends of the floats has been left free in order to make room for the superstructure of the submarine 100 therein. The support columns 25, 35 are shown in broken lines at the stem of the vessel.

These support columns are placed on the vessel when the vessel transports the submarine 100 in a submerged position. The equipment is installed on an auxiliary deck.

If a submarine has to be salvaged in rough weather it is possible to attach the submarine to the vessel 1 with the aid of lines. The submarine is then pulled up into a safe position below the vessel with the aid of lines. The vessel sails to calmer water in this position. Only then is the submarine pulled up to just below the deck of the vessel.

The use of the vessel 1 according to the present invention is shown diagrammatically in Figures 10a - lOf.

Figure 10a shows the case where a platform, such as topside 12, is sailed to a destination on a transport vessel 70. This transport vessel 70 also includes the vessel 1 according to the present invention. In Figure 10a it can be seen that the vessel 1 according to the present invention has been brought into the first or highest position thereof.

The vessel 1 is then brought into the second or lowest position thereof (see Figure 10b) and the vessel 1 is sailed at least partially under the vessel 70. The columns at the stem of the vessel 1 are positioned below the platform. The vessel 1 is then raised again. It is then possible to sail the vessel 70 away (see Figure 10c). At this point in time the platform 12 is completely supported by the vessel 1 according to the present invention. The vessel 1 is raised even further and is then sailed to the destination (see Figure lOd). The platform 12 is now positioned above the spar 10. It is possible to reach a position above the spar 10 because the vessel is made essentially horseshoe-shaped. When the platform 12 has been brought into the correct position above the spar 10, the vessel 1 is moved downwards. As can be seen in Figure lOe, the boundary between the water and the vessel, i.e. the surface area that cuts through water, is very small just before the platform 12 is positioned on the spar 10. This means that the vessel 1 is little troubled by the effect of the surrounding water. This effect can be further restricted by means of the coupling means 9 that have already been discussed with reference to Figures 1 and 4. In this position the platform 12 can safely be put down on the top end of the spar 10. The vessel 1 can then be sailed away (see Figure lOf) and when the vessel is far enough away from the spar 10 it can be moved upwards again in order to prepare the vessel 1 for the following task.

It is clear that Figures 10a - lOe can also be followed in the reverse order, so that a platform 12 can be removed from the spar using the vessel 1 according to the invention. Figures 11a and lib show the case where a load 104 from a construction 105 on the quay is placed on the vessel 1. The load 104 is, for example, transferred to the vessel 1 via skids. Before the load 104 is placed on the vessel 1 the top of the support columns 35, 36 at the stem of the vessel 1 can be brought to the correct height. This can be effected with the aid of the ballast tanks (not shown) in the floats of the vessel 1.

When transferring a load from the quay to the vessel (or vice versa) use can also be made of the coupling means 9, the mode of operation of which has been explained above.

According to Figure 11a a platform 104 is placed on the vessel from legs onto the columns 35, 36. If the distance that has to be travelled is relatively large it is disadvantageous if the centre of gravity of a large load is high above the vessel 1. Therefore it is also possible to place the platform directly on the deck of the vessel. The columns 35, 36 are placed alongside the platform. The platform 104 is placed on the columns 35, 36 only when the load 104 has to be transferred to a support at its destination. This can, for example, be effected as follows: the platform 104 is constructed as a floating element, the vessel is allowed to submerge, the platform is positioned above the columns 35, 36 and the vessel 1 is then brought up again. A front view of the vessel 1 according to the invention can be seen diagrammatically in Figure 12. A mast 81 has been placed on the vessel 1. Preferably this is an MPT as has already been described above. A fire line 121, which runs via the moonpool 122 in the direction of the seabed, can be seen diagrammatically below the mast 81. There is also a crane 61 on the vessel 1. This crane 61 can be of service for numerous activities on board. According to Figure 12 the mast 81 and the crane 61 are accommodated in a module 120. This module in its entirety can be placed on the vessel 1.

Preferably the module 120 is itself able to float. This has the advantage that the module 120 can sail to the vessel 1 and does not have to be placed on the vessel using a crane.

There are various possibilities for positioning the module 120 on the vessel 1. Two possible configurations are shown in Figures 13 and 14.

Figure 15 shows a side view of the vessel 1 according to the invention with a module 130 thereon. This module 130 is able to float and contains accommodation for crew on board the vessel 1. Just like the module 120, the module can be positioned on the vessel 1 as desired. The crew accommodation capacity can be rapidly expanded by means of the module 130.

According to the invention it is furthermore possible that a topside has been placed on the vessel according to the invention, which topside has to be transferred to an FPSO. It is advantageous to be able to dismantle and test the topside in its entirety. With the aid of the vessel according to the invention it is possible to skid the topside from the vessel to the correct position on the FPSO.

As has already been indicated above, it is also clear that the vessel 1 according to the present invention can also be used for numerous other applications. For instance, the vessel is suitable for dismantling topsides. In that case the vessel is first made fast to the jacket with the aid of the coupling according to Figure 4. After the coupling has been produced it is possible, for example, to place the topside from the jacket onto the vessel.

Claims

Claims
1. Vessel (1) comprising a floating body (2, 3) on the top of which there are a superstructure (7, 8, 25, 26, 35, 36) and a deck, as well as ballast means for varying the buoyancy of the floating body (2, 3) and for moving the floating body (2, 3), relative to the surface of the water in which the floating body is floating, between a high position with the top of the floating body (2, 3) above the water surface and a low position with the top of the floating body (2, 3) below the water surface and the superstructure (7, 8, 25, 26, 35, 36) partially above the water surface, characterised in that the deck is at the level of the top of the floating body (2, 3).
2. Vessel according to Claim 1, characterised in that the floating body comprises two parallel floats (2, 3) joined to one another (catamaran).
3. Vessel according to Claim 2, characterised in that the deck extends over and between the two floats (2, 3).
4. Vessel according to Claim 2 or 3, characterised in that the floats (2, 3) are connected to one another by means of a hollow construction which provides supplementary buoyancy.
5. Vessel according to Claim 2, 3 or 4, characterised in that there is a recessed area at one end between the floats (2, 3).
6. Vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the superstructure has at least one fixed column (7, 8) which can be provided with steering means, accommodation and the like.
7. Vessel according to one of the preceding Claims, characterised in that the superstructure has at least one support column (25, 26, 35, 36) that is provided at the top with a supporting surface for a load.
8. Vessel according to Claim 7, characterised in that the support columns (25, 26, 35, 36) are detachably fitted on the floating body (2, 3).
9. Vessel according to Claim 7 or 8, characterised in that the position of the support columns (25, 26, 35, 36) on the floating body (2, 3) is adjustable.
10. Vessel according to Claim 8 or 9, characterised in that the vessel has means for fixing the support columns (25, 26, 35, 36) to the top of the floating body (2, 3).
11. Vessel according to Claims 7 - 10, characterised in that the support columns (25, 26, 35, 36) are mounted on the floating bodies (2, 3) close to the stem of the vessel.
12. Vessel according to Claim 11, characterised in that the fixed column (8) is arranged close to the bow of the vessel.
13. Vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the vessel is constructed to be essentially symmetrical with respect to the longitudinal axis.
14. Vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the vessel has coupling means (9), provided with a line (90), for coupling the vessel to a second floating object, such as a spar (10), the coupling means (9) comprising drive means, such as a winch, for exerting tension on the line (90), which drive means are provided with resilient means for paying out the line (90) if a set maximum value for the tension is exceeded, in order by this means to compensate for movements of the vessel relative to the second object.
15. Vessel according to Claim 14, characterised in that the resilient means are provided with adjustment means for adjusting the set maximum value of the tension on the line (90).
16. Vessel according to Claim 15, characterised in that the adjustment means are equipped to allow the set maximum value of the tension on the line (90) to increase from an initial value to an end value.
17. Vessel according to one of Claims 14 - 16, characterised in that the line (90) is provided with measurement means for measuring the tension on the line, which measurement means are actively connected to the drive of the vessel.
18. Vessel according to one of Claims 14 - 17, characterised in that the resilient means are equipped to take up movements of the vessel with respect to the second object in the horizontal direction.
19. Vessel according to one of Claims 14 - 16, characterised in that the resilient means are equipped to take up movements of the vessel with respect to the second object in the vertical direction.
20. Vessel according to Claims 14 - 19, characterised in that the resilient means comprise a hydraulic cylinder (93), which hydraulic cylinder (93) joins an oil reservoir for discharging or, respectively, supplying fluid from the reservoir to the cylinder, wherein, via a movable wall, the reservoir adjoins a closed chamber that is filled with gas, such as air, it being possible to adjust the volume of the chamber in order to vary the resulting pressure that is produced in the gas as a consequence of movements of the movable wall.
21. Vessel according to Claim 20, characterised in that the chamber is connected to a gas line that is connected via shut-off valves to one or more gas bottles.
22. Spring according to one of Claims 20 and 21.
23. Vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the vessel is provided with a lift construction that is provided with a first and a second leg, which legs are positioned, respectively, on the first (port) and the second (starboard) float, the legs being joined at the top with the aid of a lifting beam, the lift construction further comprising lifting means, such as a lifting hook and a lifting line, and drive means for driving said lifting means.
24. Vessel according to Claim 23, characterised in that at least the legs of the lift construction are of modular construction.
25. Vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the vessel is provided with a tower or mast (81), in particular a drilling tower or drilling mast.
26. Vessel according to Claim 25, characterised in that the tower or the mast (81) is housed in a module (120) that is detachably fitted on the vessel.
27. Vessel according to Claim 26, characterised in that the module (120) is able to float.
28. Vessel according to Claim 26 or 27, characterised in that the module (120) also comprises a crane (61).
29. Method for placing a load on a support, the load being fixed on a vessel according to one of the preceding claims, characterised in that the vessel is brought into the first position thereof with the aid of the adjustment means, the vessel is sailed to the support, the vessel is connected to the support at the location of the support with the aid of coupling means, a spring being provided in the coupling means in order to take up differences in movement between the vessel and the support with respect to terra firma, the resilience characteristics of the coupling means are then allowed to increase stepwise or continuously, in order to bring the movement of the vessel stepwise into correspondence with the movement of the support, and, when the movement of the vessel with respect to terra firma is identical to that of the support, the vessel is moved into the second position thereof in order to bring the load vertically downwards onto the support.
PCT/NL2003/000009 2002-01-09 2003-01-09 Multifunctional catamaran shape vessel WO2003057556A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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NL1019716 2002-01-09
NL1019716A NL1019716C2 (en) 2002-01-09 2002-01-09 Multifunctional vessel (Catamaran).

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WO2003086852A1 (en) * 2002-04-10 2003-10-23 Itrec B.V. Submersible watercraft
WO2009048322A1 (en) * 2007-10-11 2009-04-16 Itrec B.V. Vessels with roll damping mechanism
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KR101497453B1 (en) * 2013-03-06 2015-03-02 삼성중공업 주식회사 Structure used for pipe laying in subsea
KR101499162B1 (en) * 2013-05-31 2015-03-05 삼성중공업 주식회사 Method for assembling offshore structure
WO2017066743A1 (en) * 2015-10-16 2017-04-20 Jon Khachaturian Floating catamaran production platform
US10279872B2 (en) 2015-10-16 2019-05-07 Versabar, Inc. Floating catamaran production platform
US10486779B2 (en) 2015-10-16 2019-11-26 Versabar, Inc. Floating catamaran production platform

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