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Title:
SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MOVING BETWEEN A LAYING VESSEL AND AN AUXILARY PLATFORM REELS CONFIGURED FOR LAYING ELONGATED MEMBERS ON A BED OF A BODY OF WATER
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2018/037341
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A system for moving between a laying vessel (2) and an auxiliary platform (3) reels (1) configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water (6) exhibits a laying vessel (2) for laying elongated members on the bed of a body of water (6) and having a weather deck (4); an auxiliary platform (3); at least one reel (1) configured for housing a bobbin of elongated members; a connecting structure (13) hinged to the weather deck (4) of the laying vessel (2) about a first hinge (CI) and to the auxiliary platform (3) about a second hinge (C2) for allowing compensation for the variations of the relative positions between the laying vessel (2) and the auxiliary platform (3); and a plurality of first hydraulic cylinders (20) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the weather deck (4) and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders (21) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the auxiliary platform (3).

Inventors:
FUSÉ, Carlo (Via Martiri di Cefalonia 67, San Donato Milanese, 20097, IT)
MOCERI, Liborio (Via Martiri di Cefalonia 67, San Donato Milanese, 20097, IT)
AMIOT, Pierre (Via Martiri di Cefalonia 67, San Donato Milanese, 20097, IT)
HUOT, Emmanuel (Via Martiri di Cefalonia 67, San Donato Milanese, 20097, IT)
Application Number:
IB2017/055062
Publication Date:
March 01, 2018
Filing Date:
August 22, 2017
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SAIPEM S.P.A. (Via Martiri di Cefalonia 67, San Donato Milanese, 20097, IT)
International Classes:
B63B27/30
Domestic Patent References:
WO2014083547A22014-06-05
Foreign References:
DE2163654A11972-07-20
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ECCETTO, Mauro et al. (Studio Torta S.p.A, Via Viotti 9, Torino, 10121, IT)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. A system for moving between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, the system comprising a laying vessel (2) for laying elongated members on the bed of a body of water (6) and comprising a weather deck (4) ; an auxiliary platform (3) ; at least one reel (1) configured for housing a bobbin of elongated members; a connecting structure (13) hinged to the weather deck (4) of the laying vessel (2) about a first hinge (CI) and to the auxiliary platform (3) about a second hinge (C2) for allowing compensation for the variations of the relative positions between the laying vessel (2) and the auxiliary platform (3); and a plurality of first hydraulic cylinders (20) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the weather deck (4) and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders (21) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the auxiliary platform (3) .

2. The system as claimed in Claim 1, wherein the connecting structure (13) comprises a first portion (14) mounted on the laying vessel (2) and a second portion (15) mounted on the auxiliary platform (3), wherein the first and the second portion (14, 15) can be joined one another for forming a sliding race extending between the auxiliary platform (3) and the laying vessel (2) .

3. The system as claimed in Claim 2, wherein the connecting structure (13) comprises a third portion (16), which is supported by the first or the second portion (14, 15) in a movable manner and is configured for being fixed to the second or first portion (15, 14) .

4. The system as claimed in Claim 2 or 3, wherein the first portion (14) extends on opposite sides of the first hinge (CI), in particular, the first portion (14) extends symmetrically with respect to the first hinge (CI), the first hydraulic cylinders (20) being arranged on opposite sides of the first hinge (CI) .

5. The system as claimed in one of the Claims from 2 to 4, wherein the second portion (15) extends on the opposite sides of the second hinge (C2), in particular, the second portion (15) extends symmetrically with respect to the second hinge (C2), the second hydraulic cylinders (21) being arranged on opposite sides of the second hinge (C2) .

6. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein the first hydraulic cylinders (20) are hydraulically and mutually connectable for setting a force control .

7. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, and comprising a control unit (22; 23) for selectively controlling the first hydraulic cylinders (20) in force and for varying the force of each first hydraulic cylinder (20), in particular according to the position of the reel (1) .

8. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein the second hydraulic cylinders (21) are hydraulically and mutually connectable for setting a force control .

9. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, and comprising a control unit (22; 23) for selectively controlling the second hydraulic cylinders (21) in force and for selectively varying the force exerted by each second hydraulic cylinder (21), in particular according to the position of the reel (1) .

10. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, and comprising at least one aligning device (10) for positioning a given point of one side of the laying vessel (2) at a reference point along one side of the auxiliary platform (3) .

11. The system as claimed in any one of the Claims from 2 to 10, wherein the first portion (14) comprises two first guides (17) hinged about the first hinge (CI) , and the second portion (15) comprises two second guides (18) hinged to the second hinge (C2) , in particular the first guides (17) being configured for rocking about the first hinge (CI) independently of one another and the second guides (18) being configured for rocking about the second hinge (C2) independently of one another .

12. The system as claimed in any one of the foregoing Claims, wherein the auxiliary platform (3) is a floating unit, in particular a barge.

13. A method for moving between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform reels for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, the method comprising the steps of connecting the weather deck (4) of a laying vessel (2) for laying elongated members on the bed of a body of water (6) to an auxiliary platform (3) by means of a connecting structure (13) hinged to the weather deck (4) of the laying vessel (2) about a first hinge (CI) and to the auxiliary platform (3) about a second hinge (C2) ; and advancing by sliding along the connecting structure (13) at least one reel (1) configured for housing a bobbin of elongated members; and dynamically supporting the connecting structure (13) by means of a plurality of first hydraulic cylinders (20) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the weather deck (4) and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders (21) arranged between the connecting structure (13) and the auxiliary platform (3) .

14. The method as claimed in Claim 13, and comprising the step of selectively connecting and disconnecting a first and a second portion (14, 15) of the connecting structure (13) respectively mounted on the laying vessel (2) and on the auxiliary platform (3) so that when the first and the second portion (14, 15) of the connecting structure (13) are joined one another they define a sliding race extending between the auxiliary platform (3) and the laying vessel (2) .

15. The method as claimed in Claim 14, wherein the step of joining the first and the second portion (14, 15) of the connecting structure (13) includes arranging a third portion (16) between the first and the second portion (14, 15) ; the third portion (16) being supported in a movable manner by the first or the second portion (14, 15) and being configured for being fixed to the second or the first portion (15, 14) .

16. The method as claimed in Claim 14 or 15, and comprising the steps of mooring the laying vessel (2) side by side with the auxiliary platform (3) so as to align the first portion (14) with the second portion (15) .

17. The method as claimed in one of the Claims from 13 to

16, and comprising the step of advancing the reel (1) between the laying vessel (2) and the auxiliary platform (3) along the connecting structure (13) .

18. The method as claimed in one of the Claims from 13 to 17, and comprising the step of actuating the first and the second hydraulic cylinders (20, 21) with respective force control during the transfer of the reel (1) between the laying vessel (2) and the auxiliary platform (3) so as to allow the connecting structure (13) to rock about the first and the second hinge (CI, C2) .

19. The method as claimed in one of the Claims from 14 to 18, and comprising the step of arranging the reel (1) along the first portion (14) of the connecting structure (13) in a given position, arranging the first portion (14) of the connecting structure (13) parallel to the weather deck (4) ; and locking the first portion (14) of the connecting structure (13) in the configuration parallel to the weather deck (4) of the laying vessel (2) .

Description:
"SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR MOVING BETWEEN A LAYING VESSEL AND AN AUXILIARY PLATFORM REELS CONFIGURED FOR LAYING ELONGATED MEMBERS ON A BED OF A BODY OF WATER"

TECHNICAL FIELD

The present invention relates to a system for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water.

BACKGROUND ART

In general, the present invention pertains to the field of laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water by means of a laying vessel configured to unwind the elongated member from a reel and lay the elongated member on the bed of the body of water. The elongated members, in this case underwater pipes or underwater cables, consist of strings, each of which is wound on a reel and is progressively unwound from the reel by an unwinding station on board the laying vessel and laid on the bed of the body of water as the laying vessel moves forward. One of the major critical issues related to this laying technique is supplying the strings to the laying vessel once the reel has been unwound. In accordance with a known technique, the reel is mounted in a fixed manner on the laying vessel and, once the string has been completely unwound from the reel, the laying vessel reaches the quay for the winding of a new string, which is prefabricated on the quay and simultaneously wound on the reel on board the laying vessel. This operating mode requires long stops of the laying vessel and is not very convenient because the laying vessel remains substantially inactive throughout the period of prefabrication of the string.

In order to reduce the period of inactivity of the laying vessel, US patent No. 7,544,013 teaches to prefabricate strings on board an auxiliary floating platform, wind the string on a reel mounted on the auxiliary structure, and transfer the string on a reel mounted on the laying vessel. The transfer of the string comprises unwinding the string from the reel of the auxiliary floating platform and simultaneously winding the string on the reel mounted on the laying vessel. This reduces the waiting times due to prefabrication, but not the transfer times for transferring the string between the two reels .

An alternative transfer mode comprises using reels releasable from the laying vessel, winding the reels on an auxiliary platform, and transferring the reels between the auxiliary platform and the laying vessel.

In line with this operating mode, the document WO 2011/105,894 teaches to prefabricate a plurality of reels on an auxiliary platform, load the plurality of reels on the laying vessel, and arrange the reels in succession in the unwinding station. The loading of the wound reels and the unloading of the unwound reels are performed by means of lifting cranes, with consequent difficulties in positioning the reels in a precise manner. It should be remembered that the reels employed in this sector of the art generally have a weight in the order of thousands of tons and that the handling thereof is particularly complex and not without danger, especially when the reels are suspended from the lifting crane. In fact, a load suspended from a cable is susceptible of oscillating to the detriment of the load positioning precision, thus endangering people or structures close to the load. The handling of the reels is more difficult when the lifting crane is located on board a floating unit. In fact, the floating units equipped with lifting cranes are of large tonnage in order to ensure greater stability to the lifting crane.

Documents EP 302,038, WO 2009/077711, WO 2013/133716, US 7,927,040, US 4,117,692, and GB 243,929 show other technical solutions adopted in this field, which however do not fully meet the requirements of reducing both the downtime in the laying operations and the risks to personnel on board.

In order to overcome the above-mentioned technical problems, the Applicant provides a system for transferring the reels between an auxiliary platform and a laying vessel, which does not require that the reels are lifted by cranes, as described in patent application WO 2014/083547. This technical solution offers undoubted benefits in terms of rapid and secure transfer.

However, all the systems described in the patent literature related to the transfer of reels of the type identified above do not address the problem of the strong concentrated stresses transmitted to some structural elements by reels weighing a few thousands of tons during transfer of the same.

DISCLOSURE OF INVENTION

One object of the present invention is to provide a system for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, which is free from the drawbacks of the prior art.

In accordance with the present invention, a system for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water is provided, the system comprising a laying vessel for laying elongated members on the bed of a body of water and having a weather deck; an auxiliary platform; at least one reel configured for housing a bobbin of elongated members; a connecting structure hinged to the weather deck of the laying vessel about a first hinge and to the auxiliary platform about a second hinge for allowing compensation for the variations of the relative positions between the laying vessel and the auxiliary platform; and a plurality of first hydraulic cylinders arranged between the connecting structure and the weather deck, and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders arranged between the connecting structure and the auxiliary platform.

In this way, on the one hand, the connecting structure can vary its position with respect to the laying vessel and the auxiliary platform and allows relative movements between the laying vessel and the auxiliary platform and, on the other hand, the first and second hydraulic cylinders support part of the weight of the connecting structure and the reel, thus unloading, at least in part, the weight that bears on the first and the second hinge.

In particular, the connecting structure comprises a first portion mounted on the laying vessel and a second portion mounted on the auxiliary platform, wherein the first and the second portion can be joined one another for forming a sliding race extending between the auxiliary platform and the laying vessel.

In other words, the connecting structure is formed as required when the laying vessel is moored to the auxiliary platform. When the laying vessel is not moored to the auxiliary platform, the first portion serves the purpose of stably supporting the reel in an unwinding station, while the second portion can be supplied with a new reel with a view to perform a transfer.

In particular, the connecting structure comprises a third portion, which is supported by the first or the second portion in a movable manner and is configured for being removably fixed to the second or the first portion.

The third portion has the function of compensating for the distance between the side of the laying vessel and the side of the auxiliary platform so that the first portion and the second portion can be contained within the sides of the laying vessel and the auxiliary platform, respectively.

In particular, the first portion extends on opposite sides of the first hinge, in particular, the first portion extends symmetrically with respect to the first hinge, the first hydraulic cylinders being arranged on opposite sides of the first hinge.

The second portion also extends on opposite sides of the second hinge, in particular, the second portion extends symmetrically with respect to the second hinge, the second hydraulic cylinders being arranged on opposite sides of the second hinge.

This configuration of the first and second hydraulic cylinders with respect to the corresponding first and second hinges allows optimization of the unloading of the forces, in any position assumed by the reel, on the connecting structure, and for any position assumed by the reel, on the first portion and the second portion when released from one another.

In particular, the first hydraulic cylinders are hydraulically and mutually connectable so as to perform a force control to ensure the movement of the connecting structure .

In particular, the system comprises a first control unit for selectively controlling the first hydraulic cylinders in force and varying the force of each first hydraulic cylinder, in particular according to the position of the reel .

Similarly, the second hydraulic cylinders are also hydraulically and mutually connectable so as to perform a force control, and the system comprises a second control unit for selectively controlling the second hydraulic cylinders in force and selectively varying the force exerted by each second hydraulic cylinder, in particular according to the position of the reel. In particular, the system comprises at least one aligning device for positioning a given point of the side of the laying vessel at a reference point along one side of the auxiliary platform.

This allows the first portion to be positioned at the second portion so as to connect the first portion to the second portion.

In particular, the first portion comprises two first guides hinged around the first hinge, and the second portion comprises two second guides hinged to the second hinge. The first guides are configured for rocking about the first hinge independently of one another and, similarly, the second guides are configured for rocking about the second hinge independently of one another.

This configuration allows for obtaining a relatively light connecting structure and prevents the pitching of the laying vessel from generating excessive stresses between the laying vessel, the connecting structure and the auxiliary platform.

In particular, all the advantages of the present invention are most apparent when the auxiliary platform is a floating unit, in particular a barge that is subjected to rolling and pitching phenomena independent of the rolling and pitching of the laying vessel.

A further object of the present invention is to provide a method for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, which is free from the drawbacks of the prior art.

In accordance with the present invention, a method for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water is provided, the method comprising the steps of connecting the weather deck of a laying vessel for laying elongated members on the bed of a body of water to an auxiliary platform by means of a connecting structure hinged to the weather deck of the laying vessel about a first hinge and to the auxiliary platform about a second hinge; and advancing by sliding along the connecting structure at least one reel configured for housing a bobbin of elongated members; and dynamically supporting the connecting structure by means of a plurality of first hydraulic cylinders arranged between the connecting structure and the weather deck and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders arranged between the connecting structure and the auxiliary platform.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Further features and advantages of the present invention will be apparent from the following description of a non-limiting embodiment thereof, with reference to the figures of the accompanying drawings, wherein:

- Figure 1 is a plan view, with parts removed for clarity, of a system for moving, between a laying vessel and an auxiliary platform, reels configured for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, provided in accordance with the present invention;

- Figure 2 is a plan view, with parts removed for clarity, of the system of Figure 1 in a different operational configuration;

- Figures from 3 to 4 are elevation views, with parts removed for clarity, of the system of Figure 1 in a plurality of operational configurations; and

- Figures from 5 to 7 are elevation views, with parts removed for clarity and in enlarged scale, of the system of Figure 1 in further operational configurations.

BEST MODE FOR CARRYING OUT THE INVENTION

With reference to Figure 1, a system for moving reels 1, designed for laying elongated members on a bed of a body of water, between a laying vessel 2 and an auxiliary platform 3 is depicted as a whole. In particular, the system according to the invention has the purpose of transferring reels 1 wound with strings (not shown in the attached figures) adapted to form underwater pipes (not shown in the attached figures) from the auxiliary platform 3 to the laying vessel 2, and the unwound reels 1 from the laying vessel 2 to the auxiliary platform 3. Reference number 1 indicates the wound reels, the unwound reels, and optionally also those in the intermediate configurations.

The laying vessel 2 comprises a weather deck 4 meant to support a bobbin 1 in an unwinding station 5 in which the elongated member (not shown in the attached figures) is unwound from the bobbin 1 and laid on the bed (not shown) of a body of water 6. The laying vessel 2 comprises mooring devices, which in this case are mooring lines 7 (Figure 2) and fenders 8.

The auxiliary platform 3 is a floating platform, preferably a barge comprising mooring devices, which are configured to cooperate with the mooring devices of the laying vessel, and, in this case, comprise bollards 9 adapted to cooperate with the mooring lines 7, and alignment devices 10, which, in this case, cooperate with the fenders 8 in order to align a given point of the side of the laying vessel 2 with a reference point of the auxiliary platform 3, as depicted in Figure 2.

In accordance with a variant not illustrated, the auxiliary platform is defined by a quay.

With reference to Figure 2, the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3 are moored side by side along their respective sides. The mooring lines 7 are fastened to the bollards 9, while the fenders 8 keep the sides of the laying vessel 2 and of the auxiliary platform 3 at a minimum distance, and the alignment devices 10 establish a predefined relative position along the respective sides of the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3. In practice, the mooring between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3 allows, to a certain extent, independent rolling and pitching of both of the naval vessels and, at the same time, a variable draught of the two naval vessels.

With reference to Figures 1 and 2, the reel 1 comprises a support frame 11 substantially in the form of a perch; and a reel frame 12 mounted in a selectively rotatable manner about an axis A with respect to the support structure 11.

With reference to Figure 2, the system comprises a connecting structure 13 that, in use, extends between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3.

In this case, the connecting structure 13 forms a bridge between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3 and defines a sliding race for the reels 1 between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3. The connecting structure 13 is hinged to the weather deck 4 of the laying vessel 2 by means of a hinge CI about a first hinge axis Al and to the auxiliary platform 3 by means of a hinge C2 about a second hinge axis A2 parallel to the first hinge axis Al, so as to allow compensation for the variations of the relative positions between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3.

With reference to Figure 1, the connecting structure 13 comprises a portion 14 mounted on the laying vessel 2 and a portion 15 mounted on the auxiliary platform 3. The portions 14 and 15 are connectable to one another to form the sliding race for the reel 1. The portions 14 and 15 are respectively housed within the dimensions of the weather deck 4 and of the auxiliary platform 3.

In particular, the portion 14 comprises two guides 17, which are arranged at a predetermined distance from one another and are hinged independently about the hinge axis Al . Similarly, the portion 15 comprises two guides 18, which are arranged at a predetermined distance from one another and are hinged independently about the hinge axis A2. The portion 16 comprises two guides 19, which are respectively supported by the guides 17 and slidably mounted on the guides 17, as shown in Figure 3. Each guide 19 is configured to be secured to a respective guide 18.

With reference to Figure 3, the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3 are moored side by side in a configuration in which the portions 14 and 15 of the connecting structure 13 are aligned with each other. The alignment of the portions 14 and 15 is obtained thanks to the alignment devices 10 in cooperation with the fenders 8 for arranging the sides of the laying vessel 2 and of the auxiliary platform 3 in a given position, and to the positioning of the portions 14 and 15 about the respective hinge axes Al and A2.

The alignment of the portions 14 and 15 is required to removably fix the portion 16 to the portion 15. In the illustrated case, the portion 16 is mounted in a sliding manner with respect to the portion 14. The alignment of the portions 14 and 15 allows the free end of the portion 16 to be arranged at the free end of the portion 15, and then the portions 16 and 15 to be fixed, so as to create a continuous and straight sliding race between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3.

In the illustrated case, the bobbin 1 is arranged on the portion 15 of the auxiliary platform 3 and must be transferred to the laying vessel 2.

The system comprises a plurality of hydraulic cylinders 20 arranged between the connecting structure 13 and the weather deck 4; and a plurality of second hydraulic cylinders 21 arranged between the connecting structure 13 and the auxiliary platform 3 for supporting, at least in part, the load of the reel 1.

Each hydraulic cylinder 20 is hinged to the weather deck 4 and the portion 14, while each hydraulic cylinder 21 is hinged to the auxiliary platform 3 and the portion 15. In more detail, each guide 17 is supported by a plurality of hydraulic cylinders 20, and similarly each guide 18 is supported by a plurality of hydraulic cylinders 21. Furthermore, the portion 14 extends on opposite sides of the hinge axis Al . In particular, the portion 14 extends symmetrically with respect to the hinge axis Al, and the hydraulic cylinders 20 are arranged on opposite sides of the hinge axis Al . Similarly, the portion 15 extends on opposite sides of the hinge axis A2. In particular, the portion 15 extends symmetrically with respect to the hinge axis A2 , and the hydraulic cylinders 21 are arranged on opposite sides of the hinge axis A2.

The hydraulic cylinders 20 are hydraulically connected to each other so as to perform a force control. In practice, each hydraulic cylinder 20 exerts a force equal to that of the other hydraulic cylinders 20. However, the force exerted by each hydraulic cylinder can be selectively varied. For this purpose, the system comprises a control unit 22 for selectively controlling the hydraulic cylinders 20, in particular according to the position of the reel 1.

Similarly, the hydraulic cylinders 21 are hydraulically connected to each other so as to perform a force control, and are controlled by a control unit 23, in particular according to the position of the reel 1. In one embodiment of the present invention that is not shown, a single control unit mounted on the laying vessel or on the auxiliary platform is configured to control the hydraulic cylinders 20 and 21.

With reference to Figure 4, the bobbin 1 is arranged along the connecting structure 13 at the portion 16. Following the displacement of the bobbin 1 from the initial portion shown in Figure 3, the draught of the auxiliary platform 3 is varied, while that of the laying vessel 2 remains unchanged. Effectively, the overall mass of the wound reel 1 is approximately 3, 500 tons and affects the draught of the auxiliary platform 3 that, in this case, does not have a very high tonnage. On the contrary, the laying vessel 2 has a very high tonnage, and although the reel 1 is very heavy, the weight of the reel 1 only marginally affects its draught.

The movements of the reel 1 and the consequent variation in the relative positions between the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3 result in a change in the position of the connecting structure 13 with respect to the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3. In practice, the connecting structure 13 oscillates around the hinge axes Al and A2 , while the hydraulic cylinders 20 and 21 and the hinges CI and C2 support the weight of the connecting structure 13 and the reel 1. In this way, it is possible to unload the weight of the reel 1 and the weight of the connecting structure 13 so that they are distributed along the laying vessel 2 and the auxiliary platform 3.

With reference to Figure 5, the reel 1 is arranged in the unwinding station 5 along the portion 14. In this configuration, the draught of the auxiliary structure 3 is further reduced with respect to Figure 4, and the connecting structure 13 is inclined downwards from right to left .

Subsequently, the portion 15 is disconnected from the portion 14, the portion 16 is retracted in the rest configuration, and the laying vessel 2 is released from the auxiliary platform 3, as shown in Figure 6. With reference to Figure 6, the control unit 22 increases the force exerted by the hydraulic cylinders 20 so as to arrange the portion 14 of the connecting structure 13 in a maximum lift configuration and in a position in which the portion 14, or rather the guides 17, are parallel to the weather deck 4.

Subsequently, the portion 14 is locked in a given configuration as better illustrated in Figure 7. With reference to Figure 7, supports 24, in this case beams, are inserted between the weather deck 4 and the portion 14. The control unit 22 unloads the force from the hydraulic cylinders 20 so that the portion 14, i.e. the beams 17, progressively rest on the supports 24, and the weight of the portion 14 and the weight of the reel 1 are directly unloaded on the supports 24 without weighing on the hydraulic cylinders 20 and the hinge CI. In this way, the reel 1 is stably positioned in the unwinding station 5 and the laying operations can start.

It is evident that the present invention includes further variants that are not explicitly described, without however departing from the scope of protection of the following claims.