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Title:
TURRET ASSEMBLY
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2017/202452
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A turret assembly for a vessel comprises a moonpool defined in the vessel and a turret structure rotatably mounted in said moonpool. The turret structure comprises a turret table which by means of a main bearing is rotatably mounted in said moonpool and a hollow turret shaft defined by a surrounding shaft wall, which turret shaft has an upper shaft end connected to the turret table, a substantially cylindrical shaft part that extends downwardly from the turret table and a lower shaft end provided with means intended for cooperation with a lower bearing. The shaft wall of the upper shaft end comprises a widened part surrounding the cylindrical shaft part and defines a circumferential crest, wherein the shaft wall of the upper shaft end, starting from said circumferential crest, extends downwardly towards a position where the upper shaft end is connected to the turret table.

Inventors:
OTTOLINI, Patrizio Giovanni Matia (Ludolph Bohlenstraat 3, 2215 XV Voorhout, 2215 XV, NL)
LUTTMER, Bernardus Rudolphus Ignatius (J. Haydnlaan 43, 3533 AB Utrecht, 3533 AB, NL)
VAN NIELEN, Jacob Jan (Albert Neuhuysstraat 3, 2102 AD Heemstede, 2102 AD, NL)
Application Number:
EP2016/061666
Publication Date:
November 30, 2017
Filing Date:
May 24, 2016
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
BLUEWATER ENERGY SERVICES B.V. (Taurusavenue 46, 2132 LS Hoofddorp, 2132 LS, NL)
International Classes:
B63B21/50
Domestic Patent References:
WO2012163394A12012-12-06
WO1989003338A11989-04-20
WO2002032753A12002-04-25
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
DE VRIES & METMAN et al. (Overschiestraat 180, 1062 XK Amsterdam, 1062 XK, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Turret assembly for a vessel, comprising a moonpool defined in the vessel and a turret structure rotat- ably mounted in said moonpool, wherein the turret structure comprises a turret table which by means of a main bearing is rotatably mounted in said moonpool and a hollow turret shaft defined by a surrounding shaft wall, which turret shaft has an upper shaft end connected to the turret table, a substan¬ tially cylindrical shaft part that extends downwardly from the turret table and a lower shaft end provided with means intended for cooperation with a lower bearing, characterized in that the shaft wall of the upper shaft end comprises a widened part surrounding the cylindrical shaft part and de¬ fines a circumferential crest, wherein the shaft wall of the upper shaft end, starting from said circumferential crest, extends downwardly towards a position where the upper shaft end is connected to the turret table.

2. Turret assembly according to claim 1, wherein the shaft wall of the upper shaft end substantially defines a half torus shape.

3. Turret assembly according to claim 1, wherein the shaft wall of the upper shaft part end substantially de¬ fines a revolved elliptical shape.

4. Turret assembly according to any of the pre¬ vious claims, wherein at least a part of the shaft wall be- tween the circumferential crest and the turret table extends vertically for defining a substantially elongate cylindrical shaft wall part.

5. Turret assembly according to any of the claims 1-3, wherein at least a part of the shaft wall be- tween the circumferential crest and the turret table extends inclined outwardly for defining a widening shaft wall part.

6. Turret assembly according to any of the claims 1-3, wherein at least a part of the shaft wall be- tween the circumferential crest and the turret table extends inclined inwardly for defining a narrowing shaft wall part.

7. Turret assembly according to claim 1, wherein the shaft wall, starting from the connection between the cy- lindrical shaft part and the upper shaft end extends hori¬ zontally for defining a ring-shaped circumferential crest.

8. Turret assembly according to claim 7, wherein at said ring-shaped circumferential crest a torsion-box like construction is provided.

9. Turret assembly according to claim 7, wherein at said ring-shaped circumferential crest a solid block is provided .

10. Turret assembly according to any of the pre¬ vious claims, wherein the turret table comprises an upper surface and a lower surface, wherein a channel is provided extending between said upper and lower surfaces, through which channel the turret shaft extends and wherein the cir¬ cumferential crest of the upper shaft end is located at a level above said upper surface of the turret table.

11. Turret assembly according to any of the pre¬ vious claims, wherein the turret table comprises an upper surface and a lower surface, wherein a recess is provided extending upwardly from the lower surface in which the upper shaft end is located and wherein the circumferential crest of the upper shaft end is located at a level between said upper surface and said lower surface.

12. Turret assembly according to claim 11, where¬ in said recess has a closed upper end below the upper sur¬ face .

13. Turret assembly according to any of the pre¬ vious claims, wherein at least part of the shaft wall of the upper shaft end has a larger thickness than remaining parts of the shaft wall.

14. Turret assembly according to claim 13, where¬ in a transition between shaft wall parts with different thicknesses is symmetrical or asymmetrical.

15. Turret assembly according to any of the pre- vious claims, wherein the means provided at the lower shaft end and intended for cooperation with a lower bearing define a chain table intended for supporting, among others, anchoring lines or anchoring chains.

Description:
Turret assembly

The invention relates to a turret assembly for a vessel, comprising a moonpool defined in the vessel and a turret structure rotatably mounted in said moonpool, wherein the turret structure comprises a turret table which by means of a main bearing is rotatably mounted in said moonpool and a hollow turret shaft defined by a surrounding shaft wall, which turret shaft has an upper shaft end connected to the turret table, a substantially cylindrical shaft part that extends downwardly from the turret table and a lower shaft end provided with lower means intended for cooperation with a lower bearing.

Such a turret assembly allows a vessel to weath- ervane around the turret structure which at its lower end (typically at the lower end of the vessel section, possibly near the elevation of the keel of the vessel) is provided with lower means (such as a chain table or for example a de ¬ tachable buoy) for mooring purposes and/or for supporting risers and umbilicals for, for example, transfer of gas, fluids, power and signals. The main bearing defines the con- nection between the moonpool (vessel) and the turret struc ¬ ture (turret table) and its function is predominantly to transfer mooring, riser and inertia loads from the turret into the vessel while allowing weathervaning of the vessel. The turret table may support a turntable or process mani- fold, as is generally known for such a turret assembly.

The functions of the lower bearing are among others to limit the horizontal force on the main bearing and the bending moment in the shaft. The lower bearing generally and purposely transfers forces in a horizontal direction. The lower bearing may be a sliding bearing type with an initial gap (also known as "clearance" or "play") of a few mil ¬ limetres, amongst others to allow the vessel to deform

("sagging" and "hogging") without "pinching" or without ex- cessive "pinching" of the turret. The clearance can also oc ¬ cur over lifetime due to wear of the lower bearing compo ¬ nents .

The clearance decouples the chain table from the vessel and therefore any horizontal loads on the chain table travel up the turret shaft to the main bearing. This causes bending moments in the turret shaft and additional loads on the main bearing, both of which could be substantial. These effects are largely limited by the closing of the lower bearing which occurs when the turret shaft has sufficiently bent so that the chain table closes the gap with the vessel. Further increase of the horizontal load will substantially be transferred from the chain table into the vessel trough the lower bearing.

There are a number of options for promoting the closure of the lower bearing and to reduce free motions within given play, such as for example decreasing the size of the lower bearing gap, adopting an alternative design for the lower bearing, pre-compressing the chain table against the vessel during the installation of the turret (for removing initial free play) and the use of structural elements with a smaller Young's modulus than steel (for example rub ¬ ber) .

In view of the above it is an object of the pre- sent invention to provide an improved turret assembly in which the flexibility of the turret shaft is increased such that it bends more easily and thus more easily closes the lower bearing limiting excessive loads in the turret shaft or in the main bearing.

In accordance with the present invention the tur ¬ ret assembly is characterized in that the shaft wall of the upper shaft end comprises a widened part surrounding the cy ¬ lindrical shaft part and defines a circumferential crest, wherein the shaft wall of the upper shaft end, starting from said circumferential crest, extends downwardly towards a po- sition where the upper shaft end is connected to the turret table .

The current invention offers a way to increase the effective length and therefore the flexibility of the turret shaft. As a result of such an increased effective length and flexibility the lower bearing already closes under smaller loads .

The invention may be embodied in a number of embodiments. Thus, in one embodiment the shaft wall of the up- per shaft end substantially defines a half torus shape.

In another embodiment the shaft wall of the upper shaft part end substantially defines a revolved elliptical shape. This means that, as seen in a cross section of the upper shaft part, said wall defines at least part of an el- lipse.

In one embodiment at least a part of the shaft wall between the circumferential crest and the turret table extends vertically for defining a substantially elongate cy ¬ lindrical shaft wall part. This yields a constructively sim- pie, yet effective design.

As an alternative at least a part of the shaft wall between the circumferential crest and the turret table extends inclined outwardly for defining a widening shaft wall part or extends inclined inwardly for defining a nar- rowing shaft wall part.

In another embodiment the shaft wall, starting from the connection between the cylindrical shaft part and the upper shaft end extends horizontally for defining a ring-shaped circumferential crest. In such an embodiment the upper shaft end has a flat crest and also may define a square or rectangular cross section.

In such an embodiment it further is possible that at said ring-shaped circumferential crest a torsion-box like construction or a solid block is provided. This provides ad- ditional means for influencing the properties and behaviour of the turret shaft.

In yet another embodiment the turret table com ¬ prises an upper surface and a lower surface, wherein a chan- nel is provided extending between said upper and lower surfaces, through which channel the turret shaft extends (with ¬ out its cylindrical shaft part touching the turret table) and wherein the circumferential crest of the upper shaft end is located at a level above said upper surface of the turret table. As an alternative, however, it is conceivable that the turret table comprises an upper surface and a lower sur ¬ face, wherein a recess is provided extending upwardly from the lower surface in which the upper shaft end is located and wherein the circumferential crest of the upper shaft end is located at a level between said upper surface and said lower surface. In the latter case it further is possible that said recess has a closed upper end below the upper sur ¬ face, as a result of which the upper surface of the turret table may be carried out without any interrupting opening.

Further it is conceivable that at least part of the shaft wall of the upper shaft end may have a larger thickness than remaining parts of the shaft wall. Such a feature also may be used for determining the behaviour of the turret shaft, especially of the upper shaft end.

In such an embodiment a transition between shaft wall parts with different thicknesses may be symmetrical (equally at both sides of the wall) or asymmetrical (differ ¬ ently at both sides or only at one side of the wall) .

The means provided at the lower shaft end and in- tended for cooperation with a lower bearing may define a chain table intended for supporting, among others, anchoring or mooring lines. It also may support risers and umbilicals.

In general the turret shaft with the design in ac ¬ cordance with the present invention is more flexible than current designs because the (effective) length of the turret shaft is extended. Considering that the sideward stiffness of the turret depends on the turret shaft length cubed and that the additional turret shaft length is significant with respect to state of the art design lengths, the gain in flexibility of the turret shaft is large.

The design of the present invention provides the attachment of said upper shaft end to the turret table with additional flexibility. For example a horizontal load at the lower means (such as chain table) will rotate the initially horizontal plane of the upper end at the circumferential crest towards an inclined position. Thus the turret shaft will "start under angle". Even if this angle is small, it has a significant effect on the horizontal displacement of the lower means (e.g. chain table), and thus on the flexi- bility of the turret shaft, because of the length of the turret shaft.

Hereinafter the invention will be elucidated while referring to the drawings, in which:

Figure la in a schematic manner illustrates a cross sectional view of a state of the art turret assembly;

Figure lb in a schematic manner illustrates a cross sectional view of another state of the art turret as ¬ sembly;

Figure 2 in a schematic manner illustrates a cross sectional view of part of a first embodiment of the turret assembly in accordance with the present invention, and

Figures 3-8 in a schematic manner show cross sec ¬ tional views of parts of alternative embodiments of the tur ¬ ret assembly in accordance with the present invention.

A state of the art turret assembly for a vessel is schematically represented in figure la. It comprises a moonpool 1 defined in the vessel 2 and a turret structure 3 rotatably mounted in said moonpool 1. The turret structure 3 comprises a turret table 4 which by means of an upper main bearing 5 is rotatably mounted in said moonpool 1 around a vertical axis 6 (such that the vessel 2 can weathervane around the turret structure 3) . The turret table 4 also may be part of a so-called turntable, or such a turntable (sche ¬ matically indicated in broken lines as 7) may be positioned on top of the turret table 4.

The turret structure 3 further comprises a hollow turret shaft 8 defined by a surrounding shaft wall 9. An up ¬ per shaft end 10 of the turret shaft 8 is connected to the turret table 4 and a substantially cylindrical shaft part extends downwardly from the turret table 4.

It is noted that the cylindrical shaft part not necessarily should have a circular cross-section, but that also other cross sectional shapes (for example hexagonal or otherwise polygonal) are conceivable. The cylindrical shaft may be conical, at one or more sections or as a whole and may include a variation of diameters and thicknesses over its length.

A lower shaft end 11 is provided with a chain ta ¬ ble 12 intended for supporting, among others, anchoring lines or chains 13 and risers 14. The chain table 12 has an outer circumferential surface 15 which is intended for coop ¬ eration with a lower bearing 16 positioned on or incorporated into an inner surface 17 of the moonpool 1. It is also known per se that the lower bearing 16 may be fitted to the moonpool 1 and the chain table 12 or parts on the moonpool 1 and other parts on the chain table 12 with mentioned gap in between .

As is generally known, the circumferential surface 15 of the chain table 12 and the lower bearing 16 are spaced by a small gap (the lower bearing is "open") when there are no or only small horizontal loads acting on the chain table 12. However, when such horizontal loads occur (for example arising from mooring loads acting on the anchoring lines 13), the turret shaft 8 will bend until a substantial part of the circumferential surface 15 engages the lower bearing 16 (the lower bearing is "closed") .

One will understand that once the circumferential surface 15 engages the moonpool 1 through the lower bearing 16, loads on the turret shaft 8 (especially moments acting at the upper shaft end 10) and main bearing 5 are lowered. Thus it is a primary goal of the present invention to amend the design of the turret assembly in such a manner that the turret shaft 8 can more easily assume a position in which the lower bearing is closed without the need for large hori- zontal loads acting on the chain table 12 (and thus without resulting large stresses (moments) at the upper shaft end 10 and loads in the main bearing 5) .

Figure lb shows a partial cross sectional view of another state of the art turret assembly. In this layout the turret table 4 is reduced to a flange that connects the up ¬ per shaft end 10 to the main bearing 5. Similar parts have identical references as in figure la.

Figure 2 schematically shows part of an embodiment of the turret assembly in accordance with the present inven- tion. It only represents part of the turret table 4 and of the turret shaft 8 with its upper shaft end 10. The shaft wall 9' of the upper shaft end 10 comprises a widened part surrounding the cylindrical shaft part of the turret shaft 8. This widened part defines a circumferential crest 20. The shaft wall 9' of the upper shaft end 10, starting from said circumferential crest 20, extends downwardly towards a posi ¬ tion where the upper shaft end 10 is connected to the turret table 4. In this embodiment the connection between the cy ¬ lindrical shaft part of the turret shaft 8 and the upper shaft end 10 is indicated schematically by a broken line 19. In the illustrated embodiment the shaft wall 9' of the upper shaft end 10 substantially defines a "half torus shape". The inner dimensions may be such that a person may gain access.

Further one can see that a lower part of the shaft wall 9' between the circumferential crest 20 and the turret table 4 extends vertically for defining a substantially elongate cylindrical shaft wall part 9". This is not neces ¬ sary, however, in all embodiments and may depend on the spe ¬ cific circumstances (as will hold true for many of the de- sign details described) .

Figure 2 also shows that in this embodiment at least part of the shaft wall 9' of the upper shaft end 10 may have a larger thickness t2 than remaining parts of the shaft wall 9, 9" (which for example have a thickness ti) . The transitions between shaft wall parts with different thick ¬ nesses may be symmetrical (such as between wall parts 9' and 9") or asymmetrical ( such as between wall parts 9' and 9) .

The turret table 4 comprises an upper surface 21 and a lower surface 22 and a channel 23 is provided extend- ing between said upper and lower surfaces, through which channel 23 the turret shaft 8 extends without engaging the turret table 4. The circumferential crest 20 of the upper shaft end 10 is located at a level above said upper surface 21 of the turret table 4.

The shape and position of the upper shaft end 10 may be varied in many ways. Some exemplary embodiments are illustrated in figures 3-8 which all show only about one half of a cross sectional view compared to figure 2.

In the embodiment illustrated in figure 3 a part of the shaft wall 9' between the circumferential crest 20 and the turret table 4 extends inclined outwardly for defin ¬ ing a widening shaft wall part.

In the embodiment illustrated in figure 4 a part of the shaft wall 9' between the circumferential crest 20 and the turret table 4 extends inclined inwardly for defin ¬ ing a narrowing shaft wall part.

In figure 5 a part of the shaft wall 9' of the up ¬ per shaft end 10 connecting to the wall 9 of the cylindrical shaft part of the turret shaft 8 extends inclined outwardly (but also may have another orientation) . It is noted that, although in the figures 2-5 the upper shaft end 10 defines part of a torus with a constant radius (as seen in cross section) , it also may have differ ¬ ent radiuses varying locally or other shapes (for example conical ) .

In the embodiment of the turret assembly according to figure 6 the turret table 4 comprises an upper surface 21 and a lower surface 22, wherein a recess 24 is provided ex ¬ tending upwardly from the lower surface 22 and having a closed upper end below the upper surface 21. The upper shaft end 10 is located in said recess 24. In this embodiment the circumferential crest 20 of the upper shaft end 10 is locat ¬ ed at a level between said upper surface 21 and said lower surface 22. The upper surface 21 in such an embodiment may (or may not) extend uninterrupted over the entire extent of the turret table 4 (apart from any holes or recesses for other purposes) .

The figures 7 and 8 illustrate embodiments in which the upper shaft end 10 does not define a "half torus" shape (which is defined by a line shaped upper crest 20 as in the figures 2-6) but a square or rectangular shaped de ¬ sign. In these embodiments a planar ring-shaped circumferen ¬ tial crest 20 is defined. Such a design also may be combined with other positions and shapes of some parts of the shaft wall (for example with inclined wall parts as illustrated in figures 3-5) . The planar crest 20 also may have an inclined position .

In figure 7 at said ring-shaped circumferential crest 20 a torsion-box like construction 25 is provided, whereas in figure 8 at said ring-shaped circumferential crest 20 a solid block 26 is provided, whatever suits best constructional demands.

In figure 7 the upper wall of the torsion-box like construction also could be made of a part of the shaft wall extending horizontally. In figure 8 such a separate horizon- tally extending shaft wall is not really present, but may be considered to be integrated in the solid block 26. In anoth ¬ er embodiment not illustrated, though, the solid block 26 could be located below such a shaft wall.

The invention is not limited to the embodiments described before which may be varied widely within the scope of the invention as defined by the appending claims.