Login| Sign Up| Help| Contact|

Patent Searching and Data


Title:
OVERBOARDING AND/OR RETRIEVAL DEVICE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/122804
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110) for controlling a curvature when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element (112) from or onto a vessel (116) whilst accommodating an accessory (114) on the flexible element (112). The device has a movable support element (120) for supporting a flexible elongate element (112), the movable support element (120) defining an endless guide path (122) and having at least one accessory-receiving opening (124) thereon The endless guide path (122) has a first path portion (142) defining a first curvature for the elongate flexible element (112) when received thereon, and a second path portion (144) defining a second curvature which is different from the first curvature, the second path portion (144) being interposed between the accessory-receiving opening (124) and the first path portion (142).

Inventors:
MACKIE, Alan Andrew (47 Hatherley Road, Cheltenham GL51 6EB, GL51 6EB, GB)
GROVES, Mark Thomas (11 Gwyndy Road, Undy, Caldicot NP26 3QE, NP26 3QE, GB)
HELLARD, James Alexander Paul (Maats Tech Limited, Unit 4Aziz Court,Parkhill, Micheldever Hampshire SO21 3QX, SO21 3QX, GB)
BROWN, Stephen Arthur (Maats Tech Limited, Unit 4Aziz Court,Parkhill, Micheldever Hampshire SO21 3QX, SO21 3QX, GB)
Application Number:
GB2018/053360
Publication Date:
June 27, 2019
Filing Date:
November 20, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
MAATS TECH LIMITED (Unit 4, Aziz CourtParkhill, Micheldever Hampshire SO21 3QX, SO21 3QX, GB)
International Classes:
F16L1/225; B63B35/03
Foreign References:
US5580187A1996-12-03
US5975802A1999-11-02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HOCKING, Adrian Niall et al. (Albright IP Limited, County HouseBayshill Road, Cheltenham Gloucestershire GL50 3BA, GL50 3BA, GB)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

1. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) for controlling a bend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element (112) from or onto a vessel (116) whilst accommodating an accessory (114) on the flexible elongate element (112), the device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) comprising: a movable support element (120; 220; 320 420; 520; 620) for supporting a flexible elongate element (112), the movable support element (120; 220; 320 420; 520; 620) defining an endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522;

622) and having at least one accessory-receiving opening (124; 224; 524; 624) thereon;

the endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522; 622) having a first path portion (142; 242; 342; 442; 542; 642) defining a first curvature for the flexible elongate element (112) when received thereon, and a second path portion

(144; 244; 344; 444; 544; 644) defining a second curvature which is different from the first curvature, the second path portion (144; 244; 344; 444; 544; 644) being interposed between the accessory-receiving opening

(124; 224; 424; 524; 624) and the first path portion (142; 242; 342; 442; 542; 642).

2. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in claim 1, wherein the second curvature is more curved than the first curvature.

3. Anoverboaiding and orretrieval device (l l0; 2l0; 3l0; 4l0; 5l0; 6l0) as claimedinclaim 1 or claim 2, wherein the movable support element (120; 220; 320420; 520; 620) has aplmality of supportmembers (136; 236; 336; 436; 536; 636) anangeable around at least part of a perimeter of the endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522; 622).

4. An overboaiding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in claim 3, wherein at least two supportmembers (136; 236; 336; 436; 536; 636) are at least in part interengageable.

5. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 610) as claimed in claim 3 or claim 4, wherein the first path portion (142; 642) includes at least one first support member (146; 646) and the second path portion (144; 644) includes at least one second support member (148; 648), a flexible-elongate-element contact surface of the second support member (148; 648) being oflset with the first path portion (142; 642).

6. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 610) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the movable support element (120; 620) is movable by a drive transmission element (156; 656) having a circulation path (130; 630), the first path portion (142; 642) being parallel or substantially parallel with a portion of said circulation path (130; 630) which is proximal to the first path portion (142; 642), and the second path portion (144; 644) being divergent with a portion of said circulation path (130; 630) which is proximal to the second path portion (144; 644).

7. An overboaiding and/or retrieval device (110; 510) as claimed in any one of claims 3 to 6, wherein the plurality of support members (136; 536) includes at least one rotatable member.

8. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (110) as claimed in claim 7, wherein the first path portion (142) includes at least one first said rotatable member (146) and the second path portion (144) includes at least one second said rotatable member (148), a radial extent of the or each first rotatable member (146) being greater than the radial extent of the or each second rotatable member (148).

9. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110) as claimed in claim 8, wherein the second path portion (144) includes aplurality of said second rotatable members (148), at least two of the second rotatable members (148) having differing radial extents.

10. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in any one of claims 3 to 9, wherein the plurality of support members (136; 236; 336; 436; 536; 636) includes at least one roller, diablo roller, plate and/or pad.

11. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (610) as claimed in claim 10 when dependent on claims 6 which in turn is dependent on claim 5, wherein:

said at least one first support member (646) includes a first pad and said at least one second support member (648) includes a second pad;

the first pad (646) has a flexible-elongate-element contact surface (674a) with a first end (674a’) and a second end (674a”), a separation between said first end (674a’) and said circulation path (630) matching or substantially matching a separation between said second end (674a”) and said circulation path (630); and

the flexible-elongate-element contact surface (674b) of the second pad (648) having an opening-proximal end (674b’) and an opening-distal end (674a”), a separation between said opening-proximal end (674b’) and said circulation path (630) being less than a separation between said opening-distal end (674a”) and said circulation path (630).

12. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (610) as claimed in claim 10 or claim 11, wherein the or each pad or plate (646; 648) is or is substantially V-shaped or is or is substantially U-shaped, to provide lateral support to the in use flexible elongate element (112).

13. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in anyone ofthe preceding claims, wherein the endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522; 622) further comprises a third path portion (150; 250; 350; 450; 550; 650), the third path portion (150; 250; 350; 450; 550; 650) being interposed between the first path portion (142; 242; 342; 442; 542; 642) and the accessory-receiving opening (124; 224; 424; 524; 624) and opposing the second path portion (144; 244; 344; 444; 544; 644).

14. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 610) as claimed in claim 13 when dependent on claim 6, wherein the third path portion (150; 650) is convergent with a portion of said circulation path (130; 630) proximal to the third path portion (150; 650).

15. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device ( 1 10: 210: 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in claim 13 or claim 14, wherein the or each accessory-receiving opening (124; 224; 424; 524; 624) and at least part of the second and/or third path portion (144, 150; 244, 250; 344, 350; 444, 450; 544, 550; 644, 650) is coplanar or substantially coplanar.

16. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in any one ofthe preceding claims, further comprising an active portion (132; 232; 332; 432; 532; 632) for ovcrboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element (112) and a return portion (134; 234; 534; 634) for returning the movable support element (120; 220; 320 420; 520; 620).

17. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in any one ofthe preceding claims, wherein the or each accessory-receiving opening (124; 224; 424; 524; 624) is movable around a perimeter of the endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522; 622), from the return portion (134; 234; 534; 634) to the active portion (132; 232; 332; 432; 532; 632).

18. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 510) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the or each accessory-receiving opening (124; 524) may be positionable so that the movable support element (120; 520) has a non-accessory-receiving surface which does not have an accessory-receiving opening (124; 524;), the non- accessory-receiving surface having an in-line extent at least equal to an in-line extent ofthe active portion (132; 532).

19. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (110; 210; 310; 410; 510; 610) as claimed in any one ofthe preceding claims, wherein the endless guide path (122; 222; 322; 422; 522; 622) is oris substantially curvate and/or arcuate.

20. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (210; 310; 410) as claimed in any one ofthe preceding claims, wherein the movable support element (220; 320; 420) includes a plurality of carriages (236; 336; 436) anangeable around at least part of a perimeter of the endless guide path (222; 322; 422), a first end of a first carriage being spaced apart from a second end of a second carriage so as to define the at least one accessory-receiving opening (224).

21. An ov crboarding and/or retrieval device (210) as claimed in claim 20, wherein at least one carriage (236) has a curvate flexible-elongate-element support at least in part defining the second curvature.

22. An overboarding and/or retrieval device (310; 410) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein at least one carriage (336; 436) has apivotable flexible-elongate-element support at least in partdefiningthe second curvature.

23. An ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device (510) as claimed in any one of the preceding claims, wherein the endless guide path (522) has a substantially circular lateral cross-section. 24. An overboaiding and/orretrieval device (5l0) as claimed in any one ofthe preceding claims, wherein the first path portion (542) has a lateral cross-section of the form of or substantially the form of a sector of a circle and the second path portion (544) has a lateral cross-section of the form of or substantially the form of a sector of a circle, the radial extent ofthe first path portion (542) being greater than the second path portion (542). 25. An overboanling and/or retrieval device (110; 610) for controlling abend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element (112) from or onto a vessel (116) whilst accommodating an accessory (114) on the flexible elongate element (112), the device (110; 610) comprising:

amovable support element (120; 620) for supporting a flexible elongate element (112), the movable support element (120; 620) defining an endless guide path (122; 622) and having at least one accessory-receiving opening (124; 624) thereon;

the movable support element (120; 620) being movable by a drive transmission element (156; 656) having a circulation path (130; 630); and

the endless guide path (122; 622) having a conveigent path portion and a divergent path portion at opposing ends of the or each accessory-receiving opening (124; 624), the conveigent path portion converging with the circulation path (130; 630), and the diveigentpath portion diverging from the circulation path (l30; 630).

Description:
Overboarding And/Or Retrieval Device

The present invention relates to an overboarding and/or retrieval device for controlling a curvature and/or bend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element from or onto a vessel whilst accommodating an accessory on the flexible element.

Flexible elongate elements, such as riser pipes, umbilicals, cables or pipelines may be required to be overboarcled into the water from a vessel or retrieved from the water onto a vessel. Thus, the flexible elongate element is typically required to be transitioned from a horizontal orientation on the vessel to a vertical orientation to be overboarded, or vice versa for retrieval. This is typically achieved via a chute, stem wheel or stinger, in accordance with the prior art, which have a cylindrical shape and with a given radius to prevent the flexible elongate element from having abend radius less than its given minimum.

However, flexible elongate elements may ofien have accessories attached thereto, the accessories having a radial or lateral cross-section greater than a width of the flexible elongate element they are attached to. Such accessories may be floatation devices, connectors, cathodic protection anodes, signalling devices, pressure gauges, luminous devices or other hardware.

As shown in Figure 1, if a conventional overboarding or retrieval device 10, such as chute, stem wheel or stinger, is used to overboard or retrieve a flexible elongate element 12 with accessories 14 attached thereto, the accessories 14 can cause the flexible elongate element 12 to be kinked and or cause a sharper bend in the course of the flexible elongate element 12. This may result in the flexible elongate element 12 having a bend radius less than the given minimum, which can cause damage to the flexible elongate element 12. Alternatively or additionally, the flexible elongate element 12, effectively being supported by the accessory 14 in this way, can cause the accessory 14 to be damaged by force from the flexible elongate element 12 acting through the accessory 14. This force may arise from the weight of the flexible elongate element 12, the vessel pulling on the flexible elongate element 12 to tension it or otherwise.

To overcome this, the method in accordance with the prior art and as shown in Figure 2 may conventionally be used. In overboarding the flexible elongate element 12, the flexible elongate element 12 without accessories 14 may be moved from a horizontal orientation on a stem deck of the vessel to a vertical orientation at or adjacent to a stem edge of the vessel 16 and at least in part suspended by the conventional overboarding or retrieval device 10. Personnel 18 may then manually attach an accessory 14 to the portion ofthe flexible elongate element 12 which is vertical at the stem edge of the vessel 16.

This can typically require personnel 18 to be positioned on a work platform suspended over the stem edge of the vessel and thus close to the expected maximum height of waves on the water. Such personnel 18 therefore have hazardous working conditions. Additionally, once the accessory 14 has been attached to the flexible elongate element 12, the work platform is typically required to be moved away from the flexible elongate element 12 before the flexible elongate element 12 is lowered into the water as a safety precaution. This is therefore atime-consuming process. Furthermore, the attachment ofthe accessory 14 to the flexible elongate element 12 may require firstly apositioning of a collar l4aonthe flexible elongate element 12 before the attachment of the accessory 14. frt a vertical orientation, due to space restrictions, this is typically required to be done by attaching acollar l4aand an accessory 14 at agiven position ofthe flexible elongate element 12 before repositioning the flexible elongate element to attach a further collar and a further accessory. This is more time consuming than in a horizontal orientation where space is less restricted and multiple collars and/or accessories may be attached simultaneously. Additionally, the accessories 14 may be heavier than the personnel 18 are able to manually lift and attach to the flexible elongate element 12, therefore lifting machinery may be required. Providing lifting machinery may be more difficult in a vertical orientation where space is more restricted than in a horizontal orientation.

The present invention seeks to provide a solution to these problems.

According to a first aspect of the present invention, there is provided an ovcrboarding or retrieval device for controlling a bend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element from or onto a vessel whilst accommodating an accessory on the flexible element, the device comprising: a movable support element for supporting a flexible elongate element, the movable support element defining an endless guide path and having at least one accessory-receiving opening thereon; the endless guide path having a first path portion defining a first curvature for the elongate flexible element when received thereon, and a second path portion defining a second curvature which is different from the first curvature, the second path portion being interposed between the accessory-receiving opening and the first path portion.

An accessory-receiving opening allows for the accessory to be received within the movable support element. Therefore, the flexible elongate element, or the majority of the flexible elongate element, which is external to the accessory is able to be supported by the movable support element and therefore the flexible elongate element is not kinked or curved more than a minimum bend radius. In this way, the accessory is not required to rest on a flexible elongate element supporting surface ofthe movable support element, thereby causing part of the flexible elongate element to be raised above the surface of the movable support element, potentially resulting in damage to the accessory and/or flexible elongate element.

The first and second curvatures being different allows for the second curvature to be tighter or more curved than the first curvature. A tighter or more acute second curvature, which is here adjacent to the accessory-receiving opening, enables the guide path across the accessory-receiving opening to have a curvature which is broader than the first curvature whilst the combined or average curvature of the second path portion and the guide path across the opening may be equal or substantially equal to the first path portion. This allows for the guide path across the opening to be or be substantially flat, straight, linear or planar, which reduces the likelihood or extent that the accessory or part ofthe accessory may be crushed or otherwise damaged, as well as controlling the bend radius or curvature of the flexible elongate element.

Preferable and/or optional features ofthe first aspect ofthe present invention are set forth in claims 2 to 24.

According to a second aspect of the present invention there is provided an ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device for controlling a bend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element from or onto a vessel whilst accommodating an accessory on the flexible element, the device comprising: a movable support element for supporting a flexible elongate element, the movable support element defining an endless guide path and having at least one accessory-receiving opening thereon; the movable support element being movable by a drive transmission element having a circulation path; and 1he endless guide path having a convergent path portion and a divergent path portion at opposing ends of the or each accessory-receiving opening, the convergent path portion converging with the circulation path, and the divergent path portion diverging from the circulation path.

According to a third aspect of the present invention there is provided an overboarding and/or retrieval device for controlling a bend radius when overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element from or onto a vessel whilst accommodating an accessory on the flexible element, the device comprising: amovable support element for supporting a flexible elongate element, the movable support element defining an endless guide path and having at least one accessory-receiving opening thereon; the endless guide path having a first path portion defining a first curvature for the elongate flexible element when received thereon, and a second path portion defining a second curvature preferably which is different from the first curvature, the second path portion being interposed between the accessory-receiving opening and the first path portion.

Figure 1 shows an overboarding or retrieval device in accordance with the state of the art;

Figure 2 shows a further overboarding or retrieval device also in accordance with the state of the art and with accessories, in this case floatation aides, being attached to the flexible elongate element whilst vertically orientated;

Figure 3 shows a side representation of a first embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device in use in accordance with the present invention with the overboarding and/or retrieval device in a non-accessory overboarding or retrieval condition;

Figure 4 shows the overboarding and/or retrieval device of Figure 3 with the overboarding and/or retrieval device in an accessory overboarding or retrieval condition;

Figure 5 shows an enlargement of box A in Figure 4;

Figure 6 shows an orthographic representation of the in use overboarding and/or retrieval device of Figure 3;

Figure 7 shows a side view of a second embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device, in use and in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 8 shows an enlargement of box B of Figure 7;

Figure 9 shows a representation similar to Figure 8 of athird embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device, in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 10 shows a representation similar to that of Figure 8 and 9 of a fourth embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device, in accordance with the present invention; Figures 1 la to 1 lh show a series of side representations of a fifih embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device in accordance with a first aspect of the present invention in use ovcrboarding a flexible elongate element with at least one accessory attached thereto;

Figure 12 shows a longitudinal cross-section of a sixth embodiment of the ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device in use positioned on a vessel and in accordance with the present invention;

Figure 13 shows an enlarged longitudinal cross-section ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device of Figure 12 in use overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element, shown in part, with an accessory;

Figure 14, shows an enlarged view of Figure 13, focussing on the transition between the first and second path portions; and

Figure 15, shows alateral cross-section ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device ofFiguie 12 supporting an in use flexible elongate element.

Figures 3 to 6 show a first embodiment of an overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 firstly comprising a movable support element 120 which defines an endless guide path 122 and has at least one accessory-receiving opening 124 thereon or therein. The endless guide path 122 is shown as a dotted line in Figure 3 and may be considered to be the movable support element 120 which an in use flexible elongate element 112 or an in use accessory 114 is guidable by. Both the movable support element 120 and the endless guide path 122 here have a form so that they may transition from having a horizontal or substantially horizontal orientation to having a vertical or substantially vertical orientation. Thus, here the movable support element 120 is preferably arcuate or substantially arcuate such that a lateral cross section of the movable support element 120 may or may substantially have the form of one or more arcs of a circle or more specifically one or more arcs of substantially a quarter of a circle. The endless guide path 122 defined by the movable support element 120 may preferably similarly be arcuate or substantially arcuate. The overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may have a vessel end 126, at or adjacent to an end ofthe vessel 116, and an overboard end 128.

The movable support element 120 is preferably movable around a circulation path 130. The circulation path 130 may have a smallerperimeterthanthe endless guide path 122 and the circulation path 130 may be concentric with the endless guide path 122. The endless guide path 122, given that it is defined by the movable support element 120, may also be movable around or adjacent to the circulation path 130. The circulation path 130 is shown by a broken line in Figure 3 and may have an active portion 132 for overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element 112 and a return portion 134 for returning the movable support element 120, the active and return portions 132, 134 being interconnected. The active and return portions 132, 134 are preferably spaced apart from each other and/or the active portion 132 may at least in part be vertically above the return portion 134. The active and return portions 134 are each arcuate or substantially arcuate and preferably the radius ofthe arc ofthe active portion 132 may be greater than the radius of the arc ofthe return portion 134, although it is appreciated that the radius of the return portion arc may be greater than or equal to that ofthe active portion arc. The active portion 132 may here be concave or substantially concave and the return portion 134 may here be convex or substantially convex.

Whilst the movable support element 120 and the endless guide path 122 are shown as being arcuate, substantially arcuate, curvate or substantially curvate, it is appreciated that the movable support element 120 may in fact not have these forms. The movable support element 120 and/or the endless guide path 122 may in iact be facetted, or substantially facetted, for example having one or more linear segments or portions. This may particularly apply to the return portion of the circulation path which may be straight. Additionally or alternatively, whilst the lateral cross section of the movable support element 120 and/or the endless guide path 122 is shown as having aconstant or substantially constant curve, it is appreciated that the curve may in fact not be constant. For example, the lateral cross section ofthe movable support element l20 and/orthe endless guide path 122 may have the form or substantially the form of a portion of a spiral, that is the radius of curvature may become smaller or tighter along a circumferential extent ofthe movable support element 120 and/orthe endless guide path 122 from the vessel end 126 the overboard end or vice versa. Alternatively, the movable support element 120 and/orthe endless guide path 122 may have the curvature of or curvature of a portion of any other irregular or regular curve, for example a spline curve, a catenary curve or a sinusoidal curve.

The movable support element 120 is preferably formed from a plurality of support members 136 arrangeable around at least part of a perimeter of the endless guide path 122. The support members 136 preferably include at least one rotatable member and more specifically may here include at least one roller. The support members 136 may here be interengageable or substantially interengageable and as such here at least two of the support members 136 may interengage, although it is appreciated that none of the support members 136 may interengage. A rotational axis of each rotatable member 136 may be aligned with a lateral direction or axial direction ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110.

In the instance that the support members 136 are rollers, they may here be diablo rollers 136 such that a circumferential extent of each roller 136 is less in an axial centre of each roller 136 than it is at an axial edge of each roller 136. Additionally or alternatively, the rotatable members may have a visco-elastic coating to prevent damage to the in use flexible elongate element 112. Whilst all shown and described as rollers 136, it is appreciated that at least one ofthe support members 136 may in fact be shaped as a plate or a pad to maximise surface contact with the in use flexible elongate element 112 and the or each plate or pad may be lubricated to reduce frictional engagement with the in use flexible elongate element 112.

The movable support element 120 has at least one accessory-receiving opening 124. Here the accessory-receiving opening 124 is an aperture such that there is a path through the opening, although it is appreciated that the opening may in fact be a recess having a surface below a circumferential extent of the movable support element which may provide support to an in use accessory 114. The accessory receiving opening may therefore be considered to be avoid. In Figure 3, one accessory-receiving opening 124 is shown whilst in Figure 4 two accessory-receiving openings 124 are shown, and it is appreciated that there may in fact be more than two accessory-receiving openings such as three or four. Here the support members 136 may be movably mountable to an arcuate guide and may more specifically be movably mountable to an active and a return arcuate guide l38a, l38b. Whilst there is only shown one active arcuate guide l38a, it is appreciated that there may in tact be a further active arcuate guide which may be radially spaced inwards of and connectable with the active arcuate guide l38a. The support members 136 may preferably be removable from the movable support element 120 to either increase the number of or size of the or each accessory-receiving opening 124 and/or further support members 136 may be included to reduce the number or size ofthe accessory-receiving openings 124. The removal or addition of support members may be facilitated by at least one quick release mechanism and/or may be carried out automatically. Additionally or alternatively, sections of support members with prearranged accessory-receiving openings may be removed or added to the movable support element.

The movable support element 120 preferably has a non-accessory-receiving surface 140 which may not have an accessoryreceiving opening 124. The non-accessory-receiving surface 140 therefore is here a continuous arrangement of support members 136 which may be interengaged, although it is appreciated that the support members 136 may be a discontinuous arrangement and may be spaced apart. The non-accessory-receiving surface 140 is an in-line or circumferential extent or length equal or at least equal to a circumferential or in-line extent or length ofthe active portion 132 ofthe circulation path l30. In1his way the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 is atrangeable such that the active portion 132 does not have an accessoryreceiving opening 124; although it is appreciated that the non-accessory-receiving surface 140 may have an in-line extent less than that ofthe active portion 132.

Figure 3 shows the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 with one accessory-receiving opening 124 which is positioned on the return portion 134 of the circulation path 130 and therefore the non-accessory-receiving surface 140 is positioned on the active portion 132. The overboarding and/or retrieval device l lOmaythus be considered lobe in a non-accessory overboarding or retrieval condition. Figure 4 shows the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 with two accessory-receiving openings 124, each opening being on the active portion 132 and the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may thus be considered to be in an accessory overboarding or retrieval condition. It is not necessary for each accessory-receiving opening 124 to be present on the active portion 132 for the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 to be considered to be in the accessory overboarding or retrieval condition, although at least part of at least one accessory-receiving opening 124 should be present on the active portion 132 to be considered to be in an accessory overboarding or retrieval condition.

The endless guide path 122 has a first path portion 142 which defines a first curvature or bend radius for a flexible elongate element 112 and a second path portion 144 which defines a second curvature or bend radius which is different to the first curvature or bend radius. The second path portion 144 is interposed between the or each accessory-receiving opening 124 and the first path portion 142.

The first path portion 142 is here formed from a plurality of first rotatable members 146 of equal or substantially equal radii which are arranged so that a rotational axis of each first rotatable member 146 is parallel with an axial extent of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. A radially most distal portion of the surface of each first rotatable member 146 may provide the movable support element 120 and therefore a flexible-elongate-element contact surface. The first rotatable members 146 may be arcuately arranged and/or may be discontinuously arranged so that the accessory-receiving opening 124 and second path portion 144 may be accommodated.

The second path portion 144 is here formed from at least one second rotatable member 148, and if aplurality of second rotatable members 148 are present at least two may have differing radial extents although it is appreciated that the plurality of second rotatable members 148 may have the same radial extent. The radial extent of each first rotatable member 146 may be different to, andhere preferably greater than, the radial extent of each second rotatable member 148. Here there are three second rotatable members 136, each of the rotatable members 136 having a differing radial extent and arranged in order of descending radial extentwith the second rotatable members 148 with the greatest radial extent adjacentto the firstpath portion 142 and the second rotatable members 148 with the smallest radial extentadjacentto the accessory-receiving opening 124. The second path portion 144 may here be forward of the accessory-receiving opening 124 and aft of the first path portion 142 and thus may be between the accessory-receiving opening 124 and the first path portion 142. The or each second rotatable member 148 is arranged so that its rotational axis extends in an axial direction ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 and is positioned so that it is aligned with the circumferential direction or are defined by the arrangement of the rotational axes of the first rotatable members 146. Therefore, a flexible-elongate-element contact surface of the second rotatable member 148 may be offset relative to the flexible-elongate-element contact surface of the first rotatable member 146. However, it is appreciated that the radial extent of the or each second rotatable member 148 may be the same as that of the or each first rotatable member 146 and the rotation axes ofthe second rotatable members 148 may be unaligned with and below the circumferential direction or arc defined by the arrangement ofthe rotational axes ofthe first rotatable members 146.

The endless guide path 122 further comprises a third path portion 150 which is interposed between the first path portion 142 and the accessory-receiving opening 124 and opposing the second path portion 144. The third path portion 150 has a third curvature or bend radius which is more curved or smaller than the first curvature or bend radius and/or the second and third curvatures or bend radii are equal or substantially equal. In this way, the third path portion 150 may have a similar or the same form as the second path portion 144 and thus may in this way be comprised of at least one third rotatable member 152 of a lesser radial extent than the first rotatable members 146. The third path portion 150 is preferably comprised of multiple, and here three, third rotatable members 152 having differing radial extents with the largest ofthe third rotatable members l52 being at or adjacent to the first path portion 142 and the smallest rotatable member being at or adjacent to the accessory-receiving opening 124. The third path portion 150 is forward of the accessory-receiving opening 124 and/or proximal to the vessel 116 as compared to the accessory-receiving opening 124. Similar to the second path portion 144, the third rotatable members 152 are arranged so that their rotation axes extend in an axial direction of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 and are positioned so that they are aligned with the circumferential direction or are defined by the arrangement of the rotational axes of the first and/or second rotatable members 148.

The second and/or third rotatable members may be planar plates, instead of rotatable members 136, to maximise a contact surface area Alternatively, the second and third rotatable members, may, instead ofhaving an entirely smaller radial extent than the first rotatable members 146, have only part of the radial extent being smaller. For example, a centre of each second and/or third rotatable member may have a smaller radial extent that the first rotatable member. Additionally, any of the rotatable members may instead be height adjustable. In the instance that there is a further active arcuate guide spaced radially inwards of the active arcuate guide, the rotatable members may be movable to the further active arcuate guide to reduce their effective radial extent.

Whilst the first, second and/or third path portions 142, 144, 150 do have a regular and/or constant curve as shown, it is appreciated that the first, second and/or third path portions may have any kind of irregular or regular curve, for example any of those given above such as those given for the movable support element 120 and/or the endless guide path 122.

The or each accessory-receiving opening 124 is preferably planar or substantially planar at least across a lateral extent of the movable support. Thus, the or each accessory-receiving opening 124 may be aligned, substantially aligned, planar and/or substantially planar with a radially most outer portion of the surface of the adjacent second and/or third roller 136. Additionally, a combination of the curvature or bend radius defined by the accessory-receiving opening 124 and the second and third curvatures adjacent to the accessory-receiving opening 124 is equal, equivalent or substantially equal or equivalent to the first curvature or bend radius.

The overboatding and/or retrieval device 110 preferably further comprises a drive mechanism 154 to move the movable support element 120 around the perimeter ofthe endless guide path 122. In this way the movable support element 120 may be drculatable around the perimeter ofthe endless guide path 122. The drive mechanism 154 may comprise at least one chain 156 or drive transmission element which is engageable and/or connectable with the movable support element 120 and at least one sprocket 158 which may be engageable and/or operatively connectable with the chain 156. There are two chains 156 here and each chain 156 is here connectable with an axial edge of each support member 136. The or each chain 156 may be at, adjacent to, mountable to or engageable with the active and the return arcuate guides l38a, l38b if present. The or each chain 156 may be positioned at, adjacent to or around the circulation path 130.

Whilst described as having a chain 156 and a sprocket 158, it is appreciated thatthe drive mechanism 154 may in fact include a wire, a cable, a pulley or any other driving means or driver.

Two sprockets 158 are here connectable, meshable, or interdigitatable with the or each chain 156 at a vessel end 126 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 and two sprockets 158 are here connectable, meshable or interdigitatable with the or each chain 156 at an overboard end 128 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. Each pair of sprockets 158 may be connectable by a shaft and the shaft may be directly or indirectly drivable by a motor, although it is appreciated that the drive mechanism 154 may not have amotor. The drive mechanism 154 may further include abrake to prevent the drive mechanism 154 or transmission from moving undesirably.

In use, the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may preferably be positioned on a stem deck of the vessel 116 and may more preferably be mounted at or adjacent to a stem edge ofthe vessel 116. The overboatding and/or retrieval device 110 may here be mounted so that a vessel end 126 is positioned over the vessel 116 and that a vessel end portion is parallel or substantially parallel with the deck of the vessel 116 such that the active portion 132 is lacing upw ards or substantially upwards. The overboard end 128 is preferably positioned above and/or adjacent to the water and spaced away from the stem end of the vessel 116. An overboard end portion of the vessel 116 may be perpendicular to or laterally orientated to the surface of the water. Whilst described as being positioned and mounted in this way, it is appreciated that the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may in feet be positioned on or mountable to a different area of the vessel 116. For example, the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may be mounted such that it is supported entirely over the water or it may be positioned or mounted at or adjacent to abow, starboard, stem or port sides ofthe vessel 116. Additionally, the vessel end portion may not be parallel with a deck of the vessel and the overboard end may be at an angle to the surface of the water.

The in use flexible elongate element 112 may be aligned with the endless guide path 122 at or adjacentto the active portion 132 of the circulation path 130 and the flexible elongate element 112 may be moved towards the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. Typically, the flexible elongate element 112 may be unwound from a reel or spool.

An accessory 114 may be attached to the flexible elongate element 112 or may be already attached to the flexible elongate element 112. The accessory 114 may be defined by the feet that it has a greater radial extent than the radial extent of the maj ority of the flexible elongate element 112. Such accessories 114 may be floatation devices, connectors, cathodic protection anodes, signalling devices, pressure gauges, luminous devices or other hardware. The accessory 114 may here be rigid and may therefore be inflexible or substantially inflexible by comparison with the flexible elongate element 112.

To attach the accessory 114 to the flexible elongate element 112, a collar 160 or clamp may first be attached to the flexible elongate element 112 by personnel 118 and then the accessory 114 may be attached to the flexible elongate element 112 or the collar 160 by different or the same personnel 118. This is here done before the flexible elongate element 112 is transitioned from the horizontal to the vertical orientation which can allow for a plurality of groups of personnel 118 to work attaching accessories 114 or collars 160 to the flexible elongate element 112 simultaneously and thereby attach the accessories 114 fester and more efficiently than with known arrangements.

When overboarding the flexible elongate element 112, if accessories 114 are not attached or to be attached to the flexible elongate element 112 prior to transitioning the flexible elongate element 112 from the horizontal to the vertical orientation then the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 may be set to the non-accessory overboarding or retrieval condition. This is such that the non-accessory overboarding or retrieval surface may be at the endless guide path 122 adjacentto the active portion 132 of the circulation path 130. The flexible elongate element 112 may then be positioned such that it is supported by the movable support element 120 at a vessel-end portion and is thus orientated or substantially orientated with a horizontal direction. The flexible elongate element 112 may then be moved along the endless guide path 122 or the circumferential extent of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 until it reaches the overboard end 128 ofthe ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. If rotatable members 136 are present, the rotatable members rotate in a circumferential direction ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110, in line with the endless guide path 122, such that friction caused by the flexible elongate element 112 acting on the movable support is reduced. Having been vertically oriented, the flexible elongate element 112 may then be overboaided into the water.

When overboarding the flexible elongate element 112, if at least one accessory 114 has been attached to the flexible elongate element 112, then the end ofthe flexible elongate element 112 may be positioned on the movable support element 120 and the flexible elongate element 112 moved atong a circumferential extent ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. When an accessory 114 approaches the vessel end 126 ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 the movable support element 120 may be moved around a perimeter of circulation path 130 suchthatthe accessory-receiving opening 124 is at least in part on the endless guide path 122 adjacentto the active portion 132 ofthe circulation path 130 and preferably at the vessel end 126 of the overboarcling and/or retrieval device 110. The accessory-receiving opening 124 may be sized so that an in-line extent ofthe accessory-receiving opening 124 is the same as or matches an in-line extent of the accessory 114.

The movable support element 120 may be moved via the drive mechanism 154, in the event that the drive mechanism 154 is powered. This is done by removing any brake that may be applied to the drive mechanism 154. A motor thus rotates the shaft interconnecting the sprockets 158 which rotates the sprockets 158. This in turn causes the or each chain 156 to move around the circulation path 130, casing each of the support members 136, connected to the chain, to similarly move around the circulation path 130.

In the event that the drive mechanism 154 is not powered, the brake may be removed and, as the flexible elongate element 112 is overboaided towards the water, the frictional engagement of the flexible elongate element 112 with the movable support element 120 may result in the movable support element 120 moving around the perimeter ofthe circulation path 130.

The removal ofthe brake orthe activation ofthe drive mechanism 154 may be done manually by personnel 118 suchthatthe approach of an accessory 114 is observed and a lever or other trigger activated by personnel 118 to remove the brake and/or move the drive mechanism 154. Alternatively, this may be activated by an automatic switch that may be triggered by engagement with the or each accessory 114 moving towards the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. Furthermore, the drive mechanism 154 orthe removal ofthe brake may be periodic in the instance thatthe presence of accessories H4 is regular or follows a given pattern.

The accessory 114 may then be moved into and received by the accessory-receiving opening 124. The accessory may engage the second and/or the third path portion or may alternatively be spaced apart from the path portions. A part of the flexible elongate element 112 distal to the accessory 114 is supported by the first path portion 142 and thus has the first curvature. A part ofthe flexible elongate element 112 which is proximal to and aft oz or further from the vessel 116 than, the accessory 114 may be supported by the second path portion 144 and thus has a second curvature. A part of the flexible elongate element 112 which may be proximal to and forward of. or closer to the vessel 116 than, the accessory 114 may be supported by the third path portion 150 and may thus have athird curvature. Given the planarity ofthe accessory-receiving opening 124 with respect to the rotatable members ofthe second and third path portions 150 atoradjacenttothe accessory-receiving opening 124, the part ofthe flexible elongate element 112 which extends across the accessory-receiving opening 124 and which may be received within the accessory 114 may be linear and/or straight or may be substantially linear and/or straight.

The movable support element 120 may then be moved such that the accessory-receiving opening 124, having the accessory 114 therein, is moved aft, or away from the vessel 116, along the active portion 132 and towards the overboard end 128. The accessory 114 is thereby moved around the circumferential extent of the movable support element 120 to the overboard end 128 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. This may be considered to be anti-clockwise from the perspective of Figures 3 and 4. The flexible elongate element 112 with the accessory 114 attached has then been transitioned to a vertical orientation and thus may be overboarded into the water.

The accessory-receiving opening 124 may then move around the perimeter ofthe circulation path l30 sothatitmovestothe return portion 134 and then to the vessel end 126 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 where the brake may be applied to tire drive mechanism 154 sothatthe movable support element 120 is stopped. The accessory-receiving opening 124 may then be ready to receive subsequent accessories 114.

In the event of multiple accessory-receiving openings 124, a first accessory-receiving opening 124 may receive a first accessory 114 atthe vessel end 126 ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 and then may move towards the overboard end 128. Whilstthe first accessory-receiving opening 124 is moving towards the overboard, is atthe overboard end 128 oris returning along the return portion 134, a second accessory-receiving opening 124 may be positioned or arrive at the vessel end 126 to receive a second accessory 114 and begin to move towards the overboard end 128. This process may include further accessoryreceiving openings 124 and further accessories 114. The multiple accessory-receiving openings 124 may be regulariy or irregularly spaced about the movable support element 120 and may match the spacing of accessories 114 on the flexible elongate element 112.

When retrieving the flexible elongate element 112, if there are no accessories 114 present on the flexible elongate element 112 to be retrieved, the movable support element 120 may be moved to the non-accessory overboarding or retrieval condition and part of or an end ofthe flexible elongate element 112 may be brought up from the water and recovered onto the vessel 116. The flexible elongate element 112 may then be positioned on the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 such that it is supported by the movable support element 120 and is on the endless guide path 122 adjacent to the active portion 132 ofthe circulation path 130. The flexible elongate element 112 is then drawn onto the vessel 116. The frictional engagement of the flexible elongate element 112 with the movable support element 120 may be reduced by the movement of rotatable members 136 with the direction of travel ofthe flexible elongate element 112.

When retrieving the flexible elongate element 112, if there are accessories 114 present on the flexible elongate element 112 to be retrieved, part of or an end of the flexible elongate element 112 may be brought up from the water and aboarded onto the vessel 116. The flexible elongate element 112 may then be positioned onto the movable support element 120 such that it is supported by the movable support element 120 and is on the endless guide path 122 adjacent to the active portion 132 ofthe circulation path 130. The initial positioning of the movable support element 120 relative to the endless guide path 122 is dependent on whether at least one accessory 114 is present on a portion of the flexible elongate element 112 which is to be initially supported by the movable support element 120. In the event that there are no accessories 114 on this portion, the movable support element 120 may be moved to the non-accessory overboarding or retrieval condition and with one of the accessory-receiving opening l24 atoradjacentto the overboard end 128 ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110. In the event that there are accessories 114 on this portion, the movable support element 120 may be moved so that the or each accessory-receiving opening 124 is aligned with the or each accessory 114 and the accessory 114 may be received within the accessory-receiving opening 124.

The flexible elongate element 112 may be dmwn onto the vessel 116. When an accessory 114 approaches the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 from the waterthe accessory-receiving opening 124 may be moved to the overboard end 128 to be receive the accessory 114. Once the accessory 114 is received within the or each accessory-receiving opening 124, the or each accessory-receiving opening 124 may be moved towards the vessel 116 along the active portion 132 ofthe circulation path 130 with the accessory 114 guided along at least part ofthe endless guide. This may be in a clockwise direction from the perspective of Figures 3 and 4. Having reached the vessel end 126 ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 110 the accessory 114 and the flexible elongate element 112 may be aboarded onto the vessel 116. The movable support element 120 may be moved around the endless guide path 122 along the return portion 134 to be returned to the overboard end 128 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 110.

Referring to Figures 7 and 8 there is a second embodiment ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 210 having a movable support element 220 comprised of a plurality of support members 236, each of the support members 236 being carriages. Elements which are similar or identical to those of the preceding embodiments are denoted by a similar reference number with a first number of‘2’ instead of T’, and further detailed description is omitted.

Each carriage 236 may be movably attachable to at least one rail 238, which may here define the circulation path 230 of the movable support element 220. Each carriage 236 may be movable on the or each rail 238 on at least one wheel 264 and are here movable on each rail 238 on three wheels 264. There may be two rails 238, the spacing of which may be great enough to accommodate an in use accessory 114. At least part of aradially most distal from the circulation path 230 surface ofthe carriages 236 may define the endless guide path 222 of movable support element 220.

A lateral cross section of the movable support element 220 and/or the endless guide path 222 may have an irregular shape and may not be arcuate. The lateral cross section of the movable support element 220 and/or the endless guide path 222 may be substantially planar and/or non-curvate at or adjacent to a vessel end 226 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 210. At or adjacent to an overboard end 228 of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 210, the lateral cross section of the movable support element 220 and/or the endless guide path 222 may be substantially arcuate or otherwise curved.

At least two of the carriages 236 may be spaced apart from one another to define at least one accessory-receiving opening 224. A carriage guide 266 may be positioned on the radially most distal surface of each carriage 236. The carriage guide 266 may be curvate and convex along a longitudinal extent of each carriage 236, having a peak in a centre of the carriage 236. A first path portion 242 may be considered to be defined by the centre of each carriage guide 266 and defines a first curvature or bend radius. A second path portion 244 may be considered to be interposed between each accessory-receiving opening 224 and the first path portion 242 and may be defined by the curvature of the carriage guide 266. The second path portion 244 defines a second curvature or bend radius which may be different to the first curvature or bend radius and is here more curved, smaller or tighter than the first curvature or bend radius.

A third path portion 250 may similarly be interposed between each accessory-receiving opening 224 and the first path portion 242 and may oppose the second path portion 244 across the accessory-receiving opening 224. The third path portion 250 may similarly be defined by the curvature of the carriage guide 266 and may thus define a third curvature or bend radius which may be different to the first curvature or bend radius and is here more curved, tighter or smaller than the first curvature or bend radius . The second and third curvatures or bend radii may be similar and/or the same. The second path portion 244 may be considered to be aft of. or closer to the vessel than, the third path portion 250 when the accessory-receiving opening 224 is positioned on an active portion 232 ofthe circulatable path. Each carriage guide 266 may here have lateral support walls 268.

As above, each support member 236 may be movable by a drive transmission, such as a chain and sprocket, although it is appreciated that each support member 236 may in lact only be movable via the motion ofthe in use flexible elongate element 112. Each of the carriages 236 here may be individually movable or all of the carriages 236 may only be movable together. Alternatively, there may be at least one portion of a circulation path 230 where the carriages 236 are independently movable, such as on one of either the active or return portion 234, and there may be at least one portion of the circulation path 230 where the carriages 236 are not independently movable, such as on the other of the active or return portion 234.

In use, the second embodiment of the ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device 210 may be positioned similarly to the first embodiment 110. When overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element 112 not having an accessory 114, the movable support element 220 may be arranged so that a plurality of carriages 236 are arranged adjacent to each other across at least part of the active portion 232 of the circulation path 230. The flexible elongate element 112 may then be overboarded from or retrieved to the vessel 116 in the same way as above.

When overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element 112 having at least one accessory 114, the movable support element 220 may be moved so that the accessory-receiving opening 224 may be at or adjacent to a vessel end 226 of the ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device 210 for ovcrboarding or an overboard end 228 for retrieval. The flexible elongate element 112 may be moved over the movable support element 220 and the accessory 114 received within the accessory-receiving opening 224 and the flexible elongate element 112 may be supported by the carriage guide 266 of each carriage 236 present on the active portion 232. The part of the flexible elongate element 112 being supported on the centre of the carriage guides 266 may have the first curvature and the part of the flexible elongate element 112 supported on the edge of the carriage guide 266 adjacent to an aperture may have the second or third curvatures. The first, second and third curvatures allow for the or each accessory-receiving opening 224 to be planar with the second and third path portions 244, 250. The movable support element 220 supporting the flexible elongate element 112 and the accessory 114 may then move towards the overboard end 228 when overboarding or the vessel end 226 during retrieval.

The carriages 236 and/orthe accessory-receiving opening 224 may then move to the return portion 234 ofthe circulation path 330 where they may be returned to the vessel end 226 for overboarding or the overboard end 228 for retrieval.

Referring to Figure 9 there is athird embodiment ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 310 which is similar or the same as the second embodiment, with the exception that the carriage guide 266 for each carriage 336 or support member is replaced by a pivotable support 366. Elements which are similar or identical to those of the preceding embodiments are denoted by the same or similar reference numbers with aprefix of‘3’ instead of T’ or‘2’, and further detailed description is omitted. The third embodiment 310 includes an endless guide path 322, amovable support element 320, an accessory receiving opening 324 and an active portion 332 for overboarding or retrieving the flexible elongate element 112.

Each pivotable support 366 may be comprised of two spaced apart support parts 370 and each pivotable support 366 may be pivotably attachable to the carriage 336 attwo aligned pivot points 372 such that the support may be pivoted between being parallel or substantially parallel with a circulation path 330 and being angled towards the circulation path 330. The or each of the carriages 336 having a pivotable support 366 parallel to the circulation path 330 may define a first path portion 342 defining a first curvature or bend radius. A second or third path portion 344, 350 may be defined by the combination of at least one carriage 336 having a pivotable support 366 angled towards the circulation path 330 and at least one carriage 336 having a pivotable support 366 parallel to the circulation path 330. The second and third endless path portions 344, 350 define a second and third curvature or bend radius respectively. The or each carriage 336 having the pivotable support 366 pivoted towards the circulation path 330 in an anticlockwise direction, as given from the perspective of Figure 9, may be considered to contribute to the second path portion 344 and the or each having a carriage 336 having a pivotable support 366 pivoted towards the circulation path 330 in a clockwise direction as given from the perspective of Figure 9 may be considered to contribute to the third path portion 350.

The pivotable supports 366 may be pivoted by the weight of the cable acting unevenly across the pivotable support 366 as the orientation of the circulation path 330 varies across a circumferential extent of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 310.

Referring to Figure 10, there is shown afourth embodiment ofthe overboarding and/or retrieval device 410 which is similar or the same as the third embodiment 310, with the exception that each carriage 436 or support member has a first and a second pivotable support 466a, 466b which are independently pivotable. Elements which are similar or identical to those of the preceding embodiments are denoted by the same or similar reference numbers with the first number being replaced with a‘4’, and further detailed description is omitted. The fourth embodiment includes, an accessory receiving opening 424 an active portion 432 for overboarding or retrieving the flexible elongate element 112.

Either of the first or second pivotable supports 466a, 466b may define a first, second or third path portion 442, 44, 450 of the endless guide path 422, having first, second or third curvature or bend radii respectively. The first, second and third path portions 442, 444, 450 may be defined in the same or similar way as the first second and third path portions 342, 344, 350 of the third embodiment, with the exception that pivotable supports 366 on adjacent carriages 336 are replaced with pivotable supports 466 on the same or adjacent carriages 436.

The second, thitd and/or fourth embodiments may have carriages 236, 336, 436 which are removable from the rails 238 via a removable section of rail 238, a disconnectable bogie or other carriage 236, 336, 436 removal means or remover. Additionally, in older to keep a desired spacing between the carriages 236, 336, 436, at least two of the carriages 236, 336, 436 may be interconnected. This interconnection may be achieved via a chain. Furthermore, each carriage guide 266 or pivotable support 366, 466 may be formed from or coated with apliantly flexible material and/or high friction material, such as rubber or similar, to prevent damage to and/or to retain the flexible elongate element 112. Whilst each carriage 236, 336, 436 is described as rolling on the rail 238with wheels, it is appreciated that each carriage 236, 336, 436 may in tact slide on the rails 238via a lubricated plate or pad.

Referring to Figure 11 , there is shown a ftfih embodiment of the overboarding and/or retrieval device 510 in which the movable support element 520 and/or the endless guide path 522 has a lateral cross-section which at least in part the shape of a part of circle. Elements which are similar or identical to those of the preceding embodiments are denoted by the same or similar reference numbers with a first number being replaced with a‘5’ , and further detailed description is omitted.

The part of the movable support element 520 defining a first path portion 542 is preferably arcuate and curvate and here may substantially have the form of the curved surface of a semi-cylinder. The part of the movable support element 520 defining the first path portion 542 may here be comprised of a plurality of rotatable members 536, which may preferably be rollers 536, although it is appreciated that it may in fact be a series of interconnected fixed support members such as plates, or a single unitarily formed support member. The first path portion 542 preferably defines a first curvature or bend radius for the in use flexible elongate element 112.

The parts of the movable support element 520 defining second and thitd path portions 544, 550 here each have the form of a semi-cylinder. The second and third path portions 544, 550 preferably define second and thitd curvatures or bend radii respectively which may be similar and/or the same and may be different to, and preferably tighter, smaller or more curved than, the first curvature. The second and thitd path portions 544, 550 are each preferably contiguous with the first path portion 542, although they are preferably not contiguous with one another. The parts of the movable support element 520 which define second and thitd path portions 544, 550 may be formed from a plurality of rotatable members 536, such as rollers 536, although it is appreciated that it may in fact be a series of interconnected fixed support members such as plates, or a single unitarily formed support member.

Here the movable support element 520 has a single accessory-receiving opening 524 which may be positioned between a second and thitd path portions 550, although it is appreciated that there may be more than one accessory-receiving opening 524. The movable support element 520 may here be rotatable, revolvable or circulatable in a circumferential direction about an axis C as shown in Figure 1 la, which may be considered to be a central axis of the of the movable support element 520 defining the first path portion 542 if the movable support element 520 were a cylinder. The movable support element 520 is rotatable, revolvable or circulatable either clockwise or anticlockwise from the perspective of Figures 1 lato 1 lh depending on whether the overboarding and/or retrieval device 510 is overboarding or retrieving a flexible elongate element 112. An anticlockwise direction is here used for ovcrboarding and a clockwise for retrieval.

Similarto the first embodiment, the movable support element 520 ofthe ftflh embodiment 510 may either be driven by a drive mechanism in order to move or may rely on the motion ofthe flexible elongate element 112 over the movable support element 520. A brake may be utilised to prevent the undesired motion of the movable support element 520.

The fifih embodiment of the ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device 510 may be used to overboard or retrieve a flexible elongate element 112 from a vessel 116 in the same or similar way that the first embodiment may be used.

In the event that the flexible elongate element 112 does not have at least one accessory 114 to be overboarded, the movable support element 520 may be rotated so that the or each accessory-receiving opening 524 is positioned in a return portion 534 ofthe circulation path 530 so that anon-accessory-receiving surface 540 is positioned in an active portion 532 ofthe circulation path 530. Such positioning may be seen in Figures 1 la and 1 lh. The flexible elongate element 112 may be overboarded or retrieved over the non-accessory-receiving surface 540, the flexible elongate element 112 moving from a substantially horizontal orientation to a substantially vertical orientation when overboarding or vice versa for retrieval.

In the event that one or more accessories 114 are present on the flexible elongate element 112, the accessory-receiving opening 524 may be positioned such that it is able to receive an accessory 114 and thus is at or adjacent to a position where the flexible elongate element 112 first engages the movable support element 520. Such positioning may be seen in 1 lc for overboarding or 1 lf for retrieval. The accessory-receiving opening 524 may then be moved at a rate and direction matching the overboarding or retrieval such that the accessory 114 may be received within the accessory-receiving opening 524. This motion may be enabled by a brake, if present, being removed and may be caused by a driving mechanism moving the movable support element 520, the frictional engagement of the movable support element 520 and the flexible elongate element 112 and/or the engagement of the accessory 114 with an edge of the accessory-receiving opening 524. The accessory-receiving opening 524 may then move in the direction ofthe flexible elongate element 112, transitioning the accessory 114 and the flexible elongate element 112 at or adjacent to the accessory 114 form the horizontal orientation to the vertical orientation for overboarding or vice versa for retrieval.

As in the above embodiments, the difference between the first and second curvatures defined by the first and second path portions 542, 544 respectively, with the second curvature or bend radius being tighter, smaller or more curved than the first curvature or bend radius, enable the accessory-receiving opening 524 to be planar or substantially planar with an edge of the second path portion 544, whilst maintaining an above minimum bend radius or maximum curvature around the movable support element 520. Referring to Figures 12 to 15, there is shown a sixth embodiment ofthe ovcrboarding and/or retrieval device 610 wherein the support members 636 may be a plurality of first pads 646 or plates, a plurality of second pads 648 or plates and a plurality of third pads 652 or plates. The first second and third pads 646, 648, 652 may therefore replace the first second and third rotatable members 146, 148, 152 of tire first embodiment respectively. Elements which are similar or identical to those of tire preceding embodiments are denoted by the same or similar reference numbers with a first number being replaced with a‘6’, and further detailed description is omitted. A pad may be considered to be a support member which may be deformable or substantially deformable, for example being made of rubber, although it may not be rotatable. However, it will be appreciated that each pad may not necessarily be deformable and may at least in part be pivotable.

Figure 12 shows the overboatding and/or retrieval device 610 in use atthe stem ofthe vessel 116. A transition position 6l0ais overlain, the device 610 being raised up away from the water when the vessel 116 is travelling between overboarding and/or retrieval locations. The overboarding and/or retrieval device 610 is shown as being substantially C-shaped and atthe overboard end 628 curves beyond the vertical so that it extends towards or substantially towards the vessel 116.

Whilst a plurality of first, second and third pads 646, 648, 652 or plates are described and shown in Figure 13, it will be appreciated that there may in fact be only one first second and/or third pad. For example, the first palh portion may be formed of one flexible and curvate pad.

Referring to Figures 13 and 14 in particular, each ofthe first pads 646 has a flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674a, the flexible-elongate-element contact surfaces 674a together defining the first palh portion 642. Each flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674a is preferably aligned, substantially aligned, parallel or substantially parallel with the circulation path 630 of the drive transmission element 656, which is here a chain, of the drive mechanism 654. In this way, the endless guide path 622 is parallel or substantially parallel to the circulation path 630 at the first pads 646.

Additionally or alternatively, the first path portion 642 may be parallel or substantially parallel with a portion of the circulation path 630 which is proximal to the first path portion 642. The proximal portion may be a part of the drive transmission element 656 or chain to which the first pads 646 are attached, and may therefore be a corresponding portion of the circulation path 630.

The flexible-elongate-element contact surfaces 674a of each first pad 646 may be planar, linear, substantially planar, substantially linear, curvate or convex. It will be appreciated that if the flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674a aligned with the active portion 632 ofthe circulation path 630, rather than the return path portion 634, then the flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674a is convex. This may help to provide continuous support to the flexible elongate element 112 in use.

The flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674a of each first pad 646 preferably has a first end 674a’, being closest to the nearest accessory-receiving opening 624, and a second end 674a”, being furthest from the nearest accessory-receiving opening 624. The separation between the first end 674a’ and the circulation path 630 and the separation between the opening-distal end 674a” and the circulation path 630 matches or substantially matches. It will be appreciated that for a first pad 646 half way between two accessory-receiving openings 624, each end may be proximal and distal to the nearest accessory-receiving opening 624. However, this would not affect each end being the same or substantially the same distance from the circulation path 630.

As shown in Figure 15, the first, second and/or third pads 646, 648, 652 may be V-shaped, substantially V-shaped, U-shaped or substantially U-shaped so as to provide side walls 668 to give lateral support to the in use flexible elongate element 112. However, it will be appreciated that it may not be necessary to provide lateral support to the flexible elongate element and therefore the pads may be planar or substantially planar. Additionally, whilst described as being V-shaped or U-shaped, the pads may instead be deformable, thereby taking on a V-shape or U-shape form when an in use flexible elongate element is positioned thereon.

Particularly in the instance thatthe first secondand/orthhdpads 646, 648, 652 are V-shaped or U-shaped the flexible-elongate- element contact surface 674a of each of the pads may be defined as being the lowermost or radially most inwaid point of contact between the flexible elongate element 112 and each pad and/or the nadir of each pad 646, 648, 652. However, it should be appreciated that this may not necessarily be the case, particular for a V-shaped pad, and that the flexible elongate element may be supported above the nadir of each pad.

The or each second pad 648 preferably has a flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674b which is offset, misaligned or at an angle to the circulation path 630 of the movable support element 620, individually or together defining the second path portion 644. Therefore, the flexible elongate element 112 of the first pad 646 is offset, misaligned or at an angle to the second pad 648. Additionally or alternatively, the second path portion 644 may be divergent, in an aft direction, from a portion of the circulation path 630 which is proximal to the second path portion 644. The proximal portion may be a portion of the drive transmission element 656 to which the second pads 648 are attached. Diveigent or diverging here means the second path portion 644 moves away from the circulation path 630 but does not necessitate beginning therefrom. The second pad 648 may otherwise be described as being sloped and/orthe first pad 646 may be described as being flat.

The flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674b of the second pad 648 preferably has an opening-proximal end 674b’, being closest to the nearest accessory-receiving opening 624, and an opening-distal end 674b’’, being furthest from the nearest accessory-receiving opening 624. The separation between the opening-proximal end 674b’ and the circulation path 630 is less than the separation between the opening-distal end 674b’’ and the circulation path 630.

Here there are a plurality of second pads 648. Each of the second pads 648 preferably has a different offset to the circulation path 630, as compared to each other. Here the magnitude of the offset or slope of the second pads 648 increases in a direction towards the associated accessory-receiving opening 624.

The flexible-elongate-element contact surface 674b of the or each second pad 648 is preferably curvate and/or convex and may match the curvature of the second path portion 644, although it will be appreciated that the flexible-elongate-element contact surface may in fact be planar, linear and/or straight. The arrangement ofthe third pads 652 is preferably similar to and/orthe same as 1he arrangement ofthe second pads 648. Each third pad 652 has a flexible-elongate element contact surface 674c. In this way, additionally or alternatively, the third path portion 650 may be convergent, in an aft direction, to a portion of the circulation path 630 which is proximal to the third path portion 650. Convergent or converging here means the third path portion 650 moves towards or approaches the circulation path 630 but does not necessitate intersecting therewith. The proximal portion may be a portion of the drive transmission element 656 to which the third pads 652 are attached. The flexible-elongate element contact surface 674c ofthe third pad 652 may have opening-proximal and opening-distal ends 674c’, 674c” which may be similarly arranged as those of second pad 648.

The offset of the second and third pads 648, 652 adjacent or proximal to the accessory-receiving opening 624 are such that the flexible-elongate-element contact surfaces 674b, 674c of these second and third pads 648, 652 are aligned or substantially aligned with each other. This is such that the accessory-receiving opening 624 is planar or substantially planar.

Whilst Figure 13 only shows one accessory-receiving opening 624 it will be appreciated that there may be a plurality of accessory-receiving openings 624.

The sixth embodiment 610 is preferably used in the same or similar way as preceding embodiments. It will be appreciated that the speed of movement of the flexible elongate element 112 away or towards the vessel 116 should be matched to the speed of movement of the movable support element 620. Such matching may be achieved by the use of sensors connected to a programmable logic controller. Whilst a drive mechanism is described, it will be appreciated that the movable support element 620 may be moved at least in part by frictional engagement between the movable support element 620 and the overboarding flexible elongate element 112. The pads 646, 648, 652 maybe required to be lubricated, greased and/or have anon-stick coating to enable the flexible elongate element 112 to move along and and/or across them.

Whilst the sixth embodiment is described as only having pads, it will be appreciated that the sixth embodiment may in fact utilise a combination of pads and rotatable elements or rollers. For example, pads may define the first path portion and rollers may define the second and/or third path portions or vice versa. Additionally or alternatively, the second and/orthird path portion may be defined by a single rotatable element or roller, with the radius of the roller defining the curvature of the second and/or third path portions.

Whilst the above invention is described as having first, second and third path portions of the endless guide path, it will be appreciated that there may in fact not be a first path portion. Instead, second and third path portions, having the same curvature, may be positioned adjacent or back to back to each other. Pairs of adjacent second and third path portions would be separated by accessory receiving openings. In this way the flexible elongate element would be flat or straight across the accessory receiving openings and a minimal accessory spacing may be achieved.

It is therefore possible to provide an overboarding and/or retrieval device for overboarding a flexible elongate element having at least one accessory attached thereto whilst controlling a bend radius of the flexible elongate element to prevent damage occurring to the accessory or to the accessory. This is achieved by having at movable support having a tighter curvature adjacent to an accessory-receiving aperture to allow for the flexible elongate element in the accessory to be or substantially be straight, linear or un-curved.

The words‘comprises/comprising’ and the words‘having/including’ when used herein with reference to the present invention are used to specify the presence of stated features, integers steps or components, but do not preclude the presence or addition of one or more other features, integers steps, components or groups thereof

It is appreciated that certain features of the invention, which are, for clarity, described in the context of separate embodiments, may also be provided in combination in a single embodiment. Conversely, various features of the invention which are, for brevity, described in the context of a single embodiment, may also be provided separately or in any suitable sub-combination.

The embodiments described above are provided by way of examples only, and various other modifications will be apparent to persons skilled in the field without departing from the scope of the invention as defined herein.