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Title:
A MOORING MEMBER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2016/114671
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A mooring member comprises a rope (1) configured for extending between a vessel (9) floating in a body of water (W) and an anchoring device (10). The mooring member comprises a plurality of functional elements (4), wherein a first functional element (4) is wound onto at least a portion of the rope (1), a second functional element (42) is wound onto the first functional element (4), and so on, until the outermost functional element (4) is wound onto the second-to-outermost functional element (44). The functional elements are wound in a helical configuration, and comprise one or more of the means in the group comprising: damage protection means, buoyancy means, optical detection means, sonar detection means, stiffness control means, anti-fouling means.

Inventors:
BOYE HANSEN, Allan (Bakkegata 6, 3208 Sandefjord, 3208, NO)
SÖRENSEN, Peter (Olavsgate 2, 3256 Larvik, 3256, NO)
Application Number:
NO2016/050003
Publication Date:
July 21, 2016
Filing Date:
January 14, 2016
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
CALORFLEX AS (Thor Dahls gate 1A, Sandefjord, 3256, NO)
International Classes:
D07B1/02; D07B1/14; D07B1/20; F16G11/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012162556A12012-11-29
WO2011102730A12011-08-25
WO1998050621A11998-11-12
WO2013148711A12013-10-03
WO1997009481A11997-03-13
Foreign References:
US20090078922A12009-03-26
US5018775A1991-05-28
JPH10168772A1998-06-23
GB2053303A1981-02-04
US20130247534A12013-09-26
Other References:
"NORWEGENS GROESSTE HAENGEBRUECKE FERTIGGESTELLT", STAHLBAU, ERNST & SOHN. BERLIN, DE, vol. 48, 1 July 1979 (1979-07-01), pages 221/222, XP001066429
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ZACCO NORWAY AS (2003 Vika, Haakon VII's gate 2, Oslo, 0125, NO)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. A mooring member (6), comprising a rope (1) configured for extending between a vessel (9) floating in a body of water (W) and an anchoring device (10),

characterized by a plurality of functional elements (4), wherein a first functional element (4^ is wound onto at least a portion of the rope (1), a second functional element (42) is wound onto the first functional element (4X), and so on, until the outermost functional element (45) is wound onto the second-to-outermost functional element (44); all said functional elements being wound in a helical configuration; said functional elements comprising one or more of the means in the group comprising: damage protection means, buoyancy means, optical detection means, sonar detection means, stiffness control means, anti-fouling means.

2. The mooring member of claim 1, wherein the damage protection means comprises an abrasion and cut-resistant material.

3. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a plurality of embedded hollow spheres.

4. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the optical detection means comprise a coloured material.

5. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a hydrophilic material.

6. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a hydrophobic material.

7. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a plurality of functional elements (4i - 45) are applied on the rope in layers, one on top of the other.

8. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the functional elements are extruded or pultruded elongate elements, having a base material comprising a thermoplastic.

9. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the functional elements (4^ comprises gripping members (13a,b) for releasable engagement with at least a portion of the rope.

10. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the functional elements with different properties are used along the length of the mooring member.

11. The mooring member of claim 10, wherein a functional element having abrasion- and cut resistant properties is used on the portion of the mooring member that is in contact with the seabed.

12. The mooring member of claim 10, wherein a functional element having buoyant properties or/and swelling properties is applied to the mooring member to reduce or eliminate catenary and improve stiffness.

13. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element is designed and manufactured with more than one specific function, suitable for the fibre rope's operational requirements.

14. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising an end termination device (14), having a connection eye (16) and a thimble (18); said thimble being configured for connection to a loop portion (L) of the mooring member.

15. The mooring member of claim 14, wherein the thimble comprises a plurality of guide grooves (19); each configured for receiving at least a portion of an individual core strand or sub-rope(2).

AMENDED CLAIMS

received by the International Bureau on 17 June 2016 (17.06.2016)

1. A mooring member (6), comprising a fibre rope ( 1 ) configured for extending between a vessel (9) floating in a body of water (W) and an anchoring device (10), characterized by two or more functional elements (4), wherein a first functional element (4T) is wound onto at least a portion of the fibre rope (1), and a second functional element (4^) is wound onto the first functional element (4i); all said functional elements being wound in a helical configuration; said functional elements comprising one or more of the means in the group comprising: damage protection means, buoyancy means, optical detection means, sonar detection means, stiffness control means, anti-fouling means.

2. The mooring member of claim 1 , wherein the damage protection means comprises an abrasion and cut-resistant material.

3. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a plurality of embedded hollow spheres.

4. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the optical detection means comprise a coloured material,

5. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a hydrophilic material.

6. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element comprises a hydrophobic material.

7. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a plurality of functional elements (4] - 4s) are applied on the fibre rope in layers, one on top of the other.

8. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the functional elements are extruded elongate elements, having a base material comprising a thermoplastic.

9. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one of the functional elements (4|) comprises gripping members (13a,b) for releasable engagement with at least a portion of the fibre rope.

10. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein the functional elements with different properties are used along the length of the mooring member,

11. The mooring member of claim 10, wherein a functional element having abrasion- and cut resistant properties is used on the portion of the mooring member that is in contact with the seabed.

12. The mooring member of claim 10» wherein a functional element having buoyant properties or/and swelling properties is applied to the mooring member to reduce or eliminate catenary and improve stiffness.

13. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, wherein a functional element is designed and manufactured with one or more specific function, suitable for the fibre rope's operational requirements; said function comprising one or more of wear resistance, mechanical toughness, high PV tolerances, buoyancy, visual (optical) detection and damage reporting, sonar detection, stiffness control, fouling prevention.

14. The mooring member of any one of the preceding claims, further comprising an end termination device (14), having a connection eye (16) and a thimble (18); said thimble being configured for connection to a loop portion (L) of the mooring member.

15. The mooring member of claim 14, wherein the thimble comprises a plurality of guide grooves (19); each configured for receiving at least a portion of an individual core strand or sub-rope(2).

Description:
A mooring member

Field of the invention

The invention concerns the field tension members, particularly ropes and cables that are used for mooring offshore marine floating vessels, as specified in the preamble of claim 1. The invention is particularly useful with synthetic fibre ropes.

Background of the invention

Offshore exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources has for many years been performed from floating marine vessels, such as so-called SPARs, semi-submersible platforms, and purpose-built ships, in general classified as FPS or FPSOs for permanent installations. An important aspect in offshore drilling operations is the use of mobile drilling units, typically referred to as MODUs. Traditionally, all such vessels have been moored by steel chains and/or steel ropes, extending between the vessel and seabed anchors for safe station-keeping. As operations over the years have been shifted into deeper waters and thus requiring longer mooring chains, the weight of these mooring chains has become a major design parameter that the operators seek to reduce. The use of synthetic fibre ropes has therefore become more prevalent, in order to reduce overall weight, reduce fatigue characteristics and eliminate corrosion typically associated with metal-based mooring lines.

Synthetic fibre ropes for offshore mooring purposes normally comprise a core (which typically is made up of a number of polyester strands and bundles) enclosed by a braided jacket. Materials commonly used in making synthetic fibre ropes are Polyester, Aramid, and ultra high-molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), and in limited cases nylon. Most synthetic fibre ropes used as mooring lines range from slightly positive to slightly negative buoyancy.

Although a synthetic fibre rope is an attractive alternative to a conventional steel mooring chain due to its low weight, it also has certain disadvantages, for example susceptibility to mechanical damage induced by handling, sharp objects and abrasion.

During installation (i.e. connection between seabed anchor and floating vessel), portions of the synthetic fibre rope are in direct contact with anchor handling vessel (AHV) decks, and often dropped onto, and/or dragged along, the seabed, whereby it might be damaged by gravel, rocks, or other sharp objects (decks, sharp steel edges, etc.).

During operation (i.e. when the fibre ropes have been installed), the lower portion of the mooring line is touching and rubbing against the seabed. Therefore, a traditional fibre rope may have limited use in this lower portion of the mooring line, and a conventional mooring chain is used instead - connecting to the fibre rope at a safe distance above the seabed.

The installed fibre rope is also exposed to objects that are dropped into or dragged through the water, which may easily cut into and damage the rope. A major threat to fibre ropes is trawl wires from either pelagic trawling or on-bottom trawling. Trawlers may regularly fish in the vicinity of either permanent or MODU installations, an activity that substantially increases the risk of damage to installed mooring lines. If a steel wire is dragged across a fibre rope, the forces may be of such magnitude that the wire virtually saws through, and cuts, the fibre rope.

The prior art includes WO 2011/102730 Al, which describes an anchor spread for mooring a marine vessel, having a seabed anchor chain connected to a fibre rope. The fibre rope is prepared by being packed to a bundle or coil arranged in a protective container on the seabed. The fibre rope is pulled out of the container at a predetermined pulling force, and picked up and connected to the anchor winch chain.

The prior art also includes WO 98/50621 Al, which describes a synthetic cable used for the anchoring of floating platforms in offshore oil production. A layer to protect the cable core against ingress of particles comprises a strip of polymer material placed in helical fashion between the core and the cable's outer braided protective layer. The helical layer permits passage of water but prevents the passage of particles towards the core.

The prior art also includes WO 2013/148711 Al (also published as US 2013/0247534 Al), which describes a rope having a cut-resistant jacket which includes a core comprised of a plurality of sub-ropes. The sub-ropes are made of fibres of a synthetic material, such as polyester, nylon, polypropylene, polyethylene, aramids, or acrylics. A cut-resistant jacket surrounds the core and is made from a material that has increased strength and/or abrasion resistance over the material of the core. The cut-resistant jacket may comprise steel wires and may further comprise braided steel wires or rope. The braided steel wires or rope may be covered with a plastic material for increased corrosion resistance. A filter layer, for preventing particles larger than a certain size from entering the core, may be disposed between the core and the cut-resistant jacket and may be wrapped around an outer surface of the core prior to the cut-resistant jacket being formed.

The prior art also includes WO 97/09481, which describes a buoyant rope assembly having a central rope, e.g. of nylon, a plurality of flotation elements of closed cell foam, e.g. of polyethylene, buffer elements of open cell foam, e.g. of polyurethane, arranged between and flush with the flotation elements, and a protective outer layer, e.g. of polyurethane.

It is therefore a need to improve the durability and reduce the vulnerability of fibre ropes used as mooring lines.

Summary of the invention

The invention is set forth and characterized in the main claim, while the dependent claims describe other characteristics of the invention.

It is thus provided a mooring member, comprising a rope configured for extending between a vessel floating in a body of water and an anchoring device, characterized a plurality of functional elements, wherein a first functional element is wound onto at least a portion of the rope, a second functional element is wound onto the first functional element, and so on, until the outermost functional element is wound onto the second-to-outermost functional element; all said functional elements being wound in a helical configuration; said functional elements comprising one or more of the means in the group comprising: damage protection means, buoyancy means, optical detection means, sonar detection means, stiffness control means, anti-fouling means.

In one embodiment, the damage protection means comprises an abrasion and cut- resistant material. In one embodiment, a functional element comprises a plurality of embedded hollow spheres.

In one embodiment, the optical detection means comprise a coloured material. In one embodiment, a functional element comprises a hydrophilic material. In one

embodiment, a functional element comprises a hydrophobic material.

In one embodiment, the plurality of functional elements are applied on the rope in layers, one on top of the other.

In one embodiment, the functional elements are extruded or pultruded elongate elements, having a base material comprising a thermoplastic.

In one embodiment, at least one of the functional elements comprises gripping members for releasable engagement with at least a portion of the rope.

In one embodiment, the mooring member comprises an end termination device, having a connection eye and a thimble; said thimble being configured for connection to a loop portion of the mooring member. The thimble may comprise a plurality of guide grooves; each configured for receiving at least a portion of an individual core strand or sub-rope.

Functional elements with different properties may be used along the length of the mooring member, in order to obtain the desired effects (e.g. abrasion resistance, buoyancy, stiffness) at the appropriate locations.

The invented functional elements provide improved mechanical and optical properties for the mooring member.

As a trawl wire of a certain length gets pulled over a mooring line at a certain speed and with a certain contact force and angle, friction in the system creates large amount of mechanical work and energy. The total created energy in such a situation can be divided in two phenomena:

1. Abrasive forces that wear the functional elements away from the mooring line, potentially resulting in the trawl wire cutting the fibre rope. 2. Heat generated from the work created by friction, potentially melting the functional elements, the underlying fibre jacket and the core strands and/or sub- ropes.

The invented functional elements absorb, withstand and dissipate this total energy to the surrounding seawater environment and in turn protect or delay critical damage to the mooring line.

Brief description of the drawings

These and other characteristics of the invention will become clear from the following description of a preferential form of embodiment, given as a non-restrictive example, with reference to the attached schematic drawings, wherein:

Figure 1 is a perspective view of a portion of a synthetic fibre rope furnished with a number of the functional elements according to the invention, shown as individual tapes wrapped in a helical fashion around the rope and secured with an outer fastener in the form of a braided structure;

Figure 2 is a cross-sectional drawing of an embodiment of the invention, corresponding to the plane P in figure 1, but the rope has been removed and only two layers of functional elements are shown (for clarity of illustration);

Figure 3 is an axial section (along longitudinal axis x in figure 1), corresponding to the portion A in figure 1, but showing only two layers of functional elements (for clarity of illustration);

Figure 4 corresponds to figure 3 but shows the displacement of the functional elements when the rope is bent;

Figure 5 shows the functional elements' placement on the rope in different orientations and helical angles;

Figure 6 is part of a cross-section of a number of functional elements, indicating how different functional elements have different properties and functions;

Figure 7 shows (in cross-section) four different embodiments of the functional elements; Figure 8 shows (in cross-section) different variants of layers of functional elements (of different cross-sectional shapes);

Figures 9a and 9b show the invention applied on the mooring lines of a floating platform;

Figure 10 is a sketch indicating one application of the invention;

Figure 11 is shows various embodiments of the functional elements, used for protecting connections between ropes;

Figure 12 shows (in cross-section) two different embodiments of gripping elements;

Figure 13 is a plan view of an embodiment of an end portion of the mooring member having an end termination device;

Figure 14 is a perspective view of the end termination device shown in figure 13, in a partly disassembled state; and

Figure 15 is a perspective view of a portion of the disassembled end termination device, in which a few sub-ropes have been removed in order to display guide grooves on the thimble.

Detailed description of a preferential embodiment

The following description will use terms such as "horizontal", "vertical", "lateral", "back and forth", "up and down", "upper", "lower", "inner", "outer", "forward", "rear", etc. These terms generally refer to the views and orientations as shown in the drawings and that are associated with a normal use of the invention. The terms are used for the reader's convenience only and shall not be limiting.

Figure 1 shows a portion of an embodiment of the mooring line 6, hereinafter also referred to as a mooring member 6. A synthetic fibre rope 1 comprises in the illustrated embodiment a bundle of core strands 2 surrounded by a braided jacket 3. A membrane 7 is arranged between the jacket 3 and the bundle of core strands 2. This membrane prevents ingress of particles that could damage the core strands. A fibre rope of this type is well known in the art, and is commonly used as mooring lines. The rope strands may for example be made of synthetic polyester, polyethylene or polyamide. Other fibre types are conceivable. For mooring purposes, the rope 1 outer diameter (i.e. including thejacket 3) may range between 80 mm and 300 mm. The invention shall, however, not be limited to such dimensions.

Although the invention in the following is described with respect to a fibre rope made up of a bundle of core strands 2, it should be understood that the invention is equally applicable for a rope comprising a number of sub-ropes. Therefore, reference number 2, in the figures and the following description, may refer to rope strands or to sub-ropes.

Arranged around the rope 1 are a number of so-called functional elements 4, in the illustrated embodiment wound around the rope in a helical manner (i.e. describing a helix). Figure 1 shows a rope carrying five functional elements, labelled 4 \ to 4 5 , one layered on top of the other. The innermost layer 4 \ bears against the rope jacket 3, the next layer 4 2 bears against the innermost layer 4\, and so on, until the outermost layer 4 5 which is exposed to the surroundings. The outermost layer 4 5 is held in place (i.e.

fastened to the layer(s) below) by an outer braided structure 5. It should be understood that this braided structure 5 may be substituted by any other suitable holding or locking means. The innermost layer 4 \ preferably comprises serrations 13a (see figure 12a) or castellations 13b (see figure 12b) that serve as gripping members into the rope jacket 3. The functional elements are thus connected to the rope, but are also capable of moving with respect to the rope (due to e.g. rope bending). Other, equivalent, gripping means may be used. The layers of functional elements thus form a compound structure, which allows water to circulate through the layers and into the rope. The functional elements' helical configuration accommodates axial movement, e.g. elongation, of the rope.

In the illustrated embodiment, each functional element 4 \ - 4 5 comprises an elongated, tape-shaped, member, and each tape-shaped member is wound around the rope in a helical manner. The functional elements may therefore in the following also be referred to as "tapes". As is clearly shown in figures 5a-c, the pitch angle and respective orientation of each of the functional elements may be varied according to specific requirements. For example, as shown in figures 5a-c, the windings of adjacent elements i, 4 2 may be in opposite directions. The various elements may also have different thicknesses and widths. The functional elements (tapes) are typically manufactured by extrusion or/and pultrusion, and their base material typically comprise a thermoplastic, from the semi- crystalline families such as polyamides, polyolefins, fluoroplastics or more amorphous thermoplastics (such as polystyrene), or combinations of these.

Examples of possible tape cross-sections are shown in figure 7: a) rectangular; b) stepped; c) notched; d) circular. The invention is, however, not limited to these cross- sections.

Figure 8 illustrates (schematically) how different cross-sectioned tapes may be arranged in layers when applied onto a fibre rope (not shown in figure 8): a) rectangular cross- section - staggered; b) stepped cross-section - inverted and staggered; c) notched cross- section - inverted and staggered; d) notched cross-section - inverted.

Figure 3 shows how two layers A\, 4 2 of functional elements are staggered, and figure 4 shows how the functional elements are displaced when the rope (not shown in figure 4) is bent. The functional elements are wound (helically) onto the fibre rope, with a distance (gap) di between the windings, in order to avoid axial compression between each winding and to allow for a certain bending radius. When the rope is bent (figure 4), the distance between the windings on the outer radius increases (to d 2 ), whereas the windings on the inner radius are moving towards each other (i.e., gap reduction, towards abutment).

The functional elements may be designed and manufactured with one or more specific function, suitable for the fibre rope's operational requirements (e.g. mooring). Such specific functions may comprise, but not necessarily be limited to:

• Wear resistance - for protection against: cuts (e.g. by trawl wire), abrasion (e.g. against seabed), and damages by dropped objects.

• Toughness and other mechanical properties.

• High PV tolerance (where the P describes the contact pressure between the

abrading object and the functional element and where the V describes the velocity between the abrading object the functional element).

• Buoyancy - for controlling buoyancy, e.g. at specific portions along the mooring line, for example to reduce catenary. • Visual (optical) detection and damage reporting.

• Sonar detection.

• Stiffness control.

• Fouling prevention.

Thus, one or more of the functional elements may have a filler material, comprising a plurality of hollow or solid micro-spheres 12 (see figure 6), made of e.g. glass, ceramic spheres, nanoclay, talcum, calcium carbonate. The hollow spheres will contribute to reducing the density of the functional element and hence increase its buoyancy. Other filler materials will improve the functional element's cut resistance and abrasion resistance. Optical fibres or strain gages may be incorporated in the functional element to monitor the elongation of the mooring line. Filler materials may also comprise lubricating agents such as MoS 2 or PTFE, glass fibre, carbon fibre, aramid fibre, and/or basalt, or other amorphous or hydrophobic fillers in order to reduce seawater absorption. Filler materials may also comprise anti-fouling agents in order to prevent algae, mussels and barnacles growth (which would add submerged weight).

Filler materials of different colours may be incorporated in different functional elements, thus making one functional element optically discernible from another. This is illustrated in figure 1, where the five different functional elements have different colours. This feature provides for an optional detection and assessment (e.g. via a ROV- controlled camera) of cuts and other damages. The different colours will indicate penetration depth of the cut and the magnitude of the damage.

The hollow spheres 12 are detectable by sonar signals S, in a manner which per se is well known. Therefore, a mooring line 6 in which one (e.g. the outermost) functional element comprises spheres 12 (figure 6) will be have a potential for being detected by the fishing vessels' on-board sonar (e.g. echo-sounder, used as fish-finder), and trawl wire impact may be avoided. Figure 10 illustrated this situation.

In one embodiment, one or more of the functional elements incorporates a filler material which exhibits swelling properties when in contact with water. When a mooring member having such functional element is installed and brought in contact with the seawater, that functional element (which is wrapped around the fibre rope as described above) will swell and effectively increase the stiffness of the mooring member following installation.

The functional elements may be used on the entire mooring line 6, or on parts of it. Also, functional elements with different properties may be used on different parts of the mooring line 6. For example, functional elements having particular abrasion- and cut resistant properties may be used on the portion of the mooring line 6 that is connected to the seabed and in contact with the seabed (see figure 9a). Functional elements having buoyant properties or/and swelling properties, as described above), may be applied to the mooring line to reduce or eliminate catenary and improve stiffness. Figure 9b shows two possible configurations.

Figure 11 illustrates an embodiment of the functional elements. When two ropes la, lb, are joined, for example conventional spliced eyes connected by shackles (or H-links), functional elements in the form of a casing 4"' protect the joint (see figure 11a). The casing may comprise casing halves 14a,b, joined by bolts (figure 1 lb) or clamps. Other fastening means, such as seizing, may be used.

The casing 4"' may comprise any one of the materials and properties mentioned in the relation to the functional elements described above, and may be manufactured to different shapes (figure 11c).

Figure 13 shows an end portion of the mooring line 6, clad with one or more of the functional elements 4, and connected to an end termination device 14. The end termination device 14 comprises a housing 15, a connection eye 16 (for a shackle, etc.), and a removable cover 17. Crimp rings 20 are used to secure the ends of the functional elements 4, near the housing. In figure 14, the cover has been removed, showing how the sub-ropes (alternatively core strands) 2' are looped around a thimble 18 (connected to the housing) and spliced in a region SP (splice not shown, covered by the functional elements 4). The housing 15 and the thimble 18 are made of a high-strength material (e.g. stainless steel) suited for the application. In use, the mooring line may be cut to a desired length, a portion of the jacket removed to expose a required length of sub-ropes 2' . The sub-ropes 2' are curved in a loop L as shown in figure 14, and spliced onto themselves (in a manner known in the art. As shown in figure 15, the thimble 18 comprises guide grooves 19 for individual sub-ropes. During assembly, the loop L is placed around the thimble 18, the cover 17 is fitted onto the housing, and one or more functional element 4 are wrapped around the core strand, in a configuration shown in figure 13. The end termination device 14 thus protects the synthetic mooring line end termination against cuts, chafing and abrasion.

Although the invention has been described with reference to synthetic fibre ropes, it should be understood that the invention is also applicable on other types of ropes and mooring lines.

The fibre rope may for example be a polyester mooring line, with diameter and minimum breaking load ranging between approximately

a) 110 mm and 380 tonnes, respectively, and

b) 260 mm and 2000 tonnes, respectively.

The fibre rope may also for example be a Dyneema ® mooring line, with diameter and minimum breaking load ranging between approximately

a) 80 mm and 370 tonnes, respectively, and

b) 190 mm and 2500 tonnes, respectively.

The invention has been described using the term "rope." It should be understood however, that in the context of this invention , the terms "hawser" and "cable" are considered to be equivalent terms to that of rope.