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Title:
ECCENTRIC SUCTION PILE PUMP WITH HINGED LIFT APPLIANCE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/066656
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
Assembly of a suction pile and a pump system temporary connected by convenient means to the suction space of the suction pile, wherein the pump system bears onto the top of the upward extending suction pile. Between suction pile and pump system a quick connector is operative comprising a pin operated by actuator means of the pump system to move between a releasing retracted and locking extended position. It has one or more of: a pump interface remote from the protective frame; an auxiliary support frame; a hinged lift appliance; a level indicator; a docking cone designed to penetrate the suction pile interface means.

Inventors:
VAN BLAADEREN ENGEL ALBERT (NL)
Application Number:
PCT/NL2020/050613
Publication Date:
April 08, 2021
Filing Date:
October 02, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SPT EQUIPMENT BV (NL)
VAN BLAADEREN ENGEL ALBERT (NL)
International Classes:
E02D27/52; E02B17/00
Domestic Patent References:
WO2007063130A22007-06-07
WO1999051821A11999-10-14
WO2002088475A12002-11-07
Foreign References:
US6009825A2000-01-04
US20050201835A12005-09-15
EP3315670A22018-05-02
GB2300661B1997-07-30
EP0011894B11984-07-04
GB2300661B1997-07-30
EP0011894B11984-07-04
EP1101872A22001-05-23
EP17166678A2017-04-13
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
ASSENDELFT, Jacobus (NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
CLAIMS

1. Assembly of a suction pile (7) and a pump system (1) of which the pump (3) is temporary connected by convenient means, e.g. a suction pipe (5, 9), to the suction space of the suction pile, preferably wherein the pump system bears onto the top bulkhead (6) of the upward extending suction pile.

2. Assembly according to claim 1, the pump system (1) is provided with a hingedly or pivotably connected lifting appliance (31) designed to pivot, relative to at least part, e.g. a frame (24, 25, 32) and/or the pump (3), of the pump system, from an upright position, perpendicular to the top bulkhead (6), into a downward position making an angle of at least 45 or 60 degrees, e.g. 90 degrees, with the upright position, e.g. parallel to the top bulkhead (6), preferably wherein the pump (3) and the lifting appliance (31) are located side by side, preferably on top of a common, rigid supporting frame or platform (32) of the pump system.

3. Assembly according to claim 2, the lifting appliance (31) has, in side view, an upside down U-shape, its legs (35) have preferably at their distal ends a pivoting connection provided by a pin (17) of a quick coupling (5, 9) active between the suction pile and the pump system.

4. Assembly according to claim 2 or 3, the lifting appliance has a lifting grip, e.g. eye, designed to be engaged by a hoisting means, e.g. hook (10), of an hoisting crane, the lifting grip preferably provided at the bridging part of the U that unites the legs (35), the lifting grip and/or bridging part preferably projecting above all other components of the pump system.

5. Assembly according to any of claims 2-4, the pump system, e.g. lifting appliance (31), has a selectively operated means, e.g. a retractable locking pin (33), preferably in telescoping manner, to temporary disable, if engaged by selective operation, the pivoting movement of the lifting appliance (31) such that it keeps a fixed orientation or angular attitude relative to the parts of the pump system relative to which the lifting appliance is designed to pivot if the means is disengaged by selective operation.

6. Assembly according to claim 5, wherein the means, e.g. pin (33) is designed to engage a part (36), e.g. locking hole, of the pump system relative to which the lifting appliance is designed to pivot if the means is disengaged by selective operation.

7. Assembly according to any of claims 1-6, between suction pile and pump system a quick connector is operative, preferably comprising a pin (17) operated by actuator means (18) of the pump system to move between a releasing retracted and locking extended position; and/or the pipe (5, 9) projects upward from the top plate (6) of pile (7) and is connected to the internal suction space of the bucket (7).

8. Assembly according to any of claims 1-7, the pump system comprising a docking cone (27)designed to penetrate the suction pile interface means (5) and preferably it projects downwards and/or below the pump system and/or is co axial with pump system interface means (9).

9. Assembly according to claim 8, the distal ends of the legs (35) of the lifting appliance are at diametrically opposite sides of the docking cone (27) and/or the lifting appliance in its upward pivoted position is vertically above the docking cone.

10. Assembly according to any of claims 1-9, the pump system (1) comprising a protective rigid, e.g. space frame type, frame

(24, 25), preferably right angled and/or brick shaped, enveloping the pump (3), pump drive and piping (26) and additional components of the pump system.

11. Assembly according to claim 10, the docking cone (27) and/or the hinged connection of the lifting appliance is sideways remote from the protective frame (24, 25) and preferably is/are supported by a rigid auxiliary, e.g. space frame type, supporting frame (32) of the pump system.

12. Assembly according to claim 10 or 11, the auxiliary supporting frame (32) projects sideways from the protective frame (24, 25), preferably at low level or at the level of the underside of the protective frame and preferably is integrated with and/or rigid with the protective frame (24, 25).

13. Assembly according to any of claims 10-12, the auxiliary supporting frame comprises one or two openings (37) penetrated from below by a plate means (15) upward projecting from and rigid with the top bulkhead (15) and/or has a fixed orientation relative to the pump (3) and/or protective frame (24, 25) of the pump system.

14. Assembly according to any of claims 1-13, the pump system having a, preferably vertically oriented, control panel (fig. 8), designed to be operated by a remotely operated submersed vehicle (ROV) to control and monitor the pump system, the panel preferably provided at its outward from the pump system facing main face with input and output means and/or a grip for the ROV.

15. Assembly according to any of claims 1-14, the pump system having a level indicator.

16. Assembly according to any of claims 1-15, suspending from a hoisting crane, preferably the suction pile is suspending from the pump system and the pump system is, preferably by way of the lifting appliance, suspending from the hoisting crane such that the total weight of the suction pile is carried by the pump system and the total weight of the assembly is carried by the hoisting crane.

17. Pump system for the assembly according to any of claims 1-6.

Description:
Eccentric suction pile pump with hinged lift appliance.

The invention relates to a suction pile pump device for use during installing or removing a foundation system for an offshore payload, e.g. an offshore wind energy installation or for oil or gas applications. The foundation system is provided with one or more suction buckets (hereafter also called "bucket" or "suction pile" or "pile"). In case of a wind energy installation the mast preferably comprises an upright monopole and on top of it (e.g. at the so called transition piece) an upright tower, wherein the tower supports the nacelle, carrying the blades, at its top. Instead of a nacelle the payload could comprise e.g. a platform, e.g. for oil or gas application or a transformer platform for an offshore substation. The foundation comprises e.g. a jacket or a cluster pile. Sea depth typically will be at least 10 or 20 or 50 or 60 metres and feasible is at least 500 or 1000 metres, e.g. 3000 metres. The foundation system can also provide an anchoring system, e.g. for mooring purposes, e.g. a floating offshore wind energy installation or different floating object.

Orientations, e.g. "up", "down", "top", "aside", "upright", "vertical", "above", "level" are in this document related to the situation that the pump system is in its operative position and operatively coupled with the bucket and fluid pump running, actively sucking fluid from the pressure space, while the bucket is oriented vertically upright, top bulkhead above and open underside below, longitudinal axis vertical.

Suction buckets and how to install them are a.o. known from GB-B-2300661 and EP-B-0011894, which are enclosed in here by reference. A suction bucket is a thin walled steel or reinforced mineral cement concrete sleeve or pipe or cylinder, which is closed at its longitudinal top end by a bulkhead (also called top plate) or different sealing means of steel or reinforced mineral cement concrete and which is sealingly located on the subsea bottom with the open end opposite the bulkhead since this open end penetrates the subsea bottom due to the weight of the suction bucket. Thus the cavity, also called suction space, delimited by the cylinder and the bulkhead is sealed by the subsea floor such that vacuum or suction can be generated by removing water from within the suction space such that a resulting force tends to force the suction bucket deeper into the subsea floor. The creation of the suction is by a suction source, such as a fluid pump,being on, or close to or at a distance from the suction bucket and connected to the suction space. The fluid pump is preferably designed to pump liquid, e.g. water.

A self installing marine structure, e.g. platform applying suction buckets is known from e.g.W099/51821 or EP-A-1101872. WO 02/088.475 discloses a tower carrying a wind turbine at the top and suction buckets as foundation.

Suction buckets are applied as (part of) a foundation of an offshore wind energy turbine. For such application, typically a single or three or more mutually spaced suction buckets are applied, providing a static balanced or overbalanced support. In operation, the suction buckets have at least almost completely penetrated the sea bed, are at equal or substantially equal level and are adjacent each other or have a mutual horizontal spacing providing a clearance of at least 5 metre, typically in the order of 20 metre or more, e.g. between 30 and 35 metres, or a clearance of at least 0.5 or 1.0 times the diameter of the suction bucket (clearance means the shortest distance between the facing side walls). This single bucket or assembly of suction buckets carries a single monopole or a space frame (i.e. jacket) of steel beams or tubes and on top of it a vertical tower supporting at its upper end the nacelle of the wind energy turbine provided with rotor blades, typically rotating around a horizontal axis and driven by the wind. The wind energy turbine converts wind energy into electrical energy. The wind turbine is typically part of a wind farm of identical wind turbines each provided with its own foundation of three or more suction buckets. A cable brings the electricity from the wind turbine generator to an electricity consumer onshore, e.g. a household.

The complete offshore structure is typically at least substantially made from metal, typically steel.

Preferably each suction bucket has one or more of:a diameter of at least 5 metres, typically between 7 or 10 and 15 metre or even more; a height of at least 5 metres, typically between 10 and 15 metre or even more and/or less than 20 or 30 metre, subject to the soil conditions; a wall thickness of at least

1 centimetre, typically at least 3 or 5 centimetre and/or below 10 or 15 or 20 centimetre; the longitudinal axis of the suction bucket and the relevant supporting leg (of the upper structure to be supported by the suction bucket) are substantially in line or eccentric.

OBJECT OF THE INVENTION

The object of the invention is versatile.By way of example, the object is one or more of: simple design of the suction pile, in particular its top bulkhead is facilitated; storage and/or transport of one or more pump systems is facilitated; ease of handling, e.g. upending, is facilitated. The object can also be learned from the information disclosed in the application documents.

For offshore installations, particularly for wind energy turbines, there are stringent requirements on many topics. Examples of these topics are: low production costs; fast and efficient installation in a matter of 1-8 hours; environmental friendly.

The object is obtained by a pump system designed to be temporary connected to the internal space (also called suction space) of the suction pile to generate an over pressure or under pressure within the suction space, preferably wherein the pressure difference generated relative to the surrounding water pressure (e.g. approximately 10 bar at 100 meter water depth or 100 bar at 1000 meter water depth) is at least 0.5 or 1 or

2 or 3 or 5 bar. Preferably the pump system is designed to generate within the suction space an over or under pressure between 5 and 10 bar. It will be appreciated that for the under pressure (i.e. the suction), lowering of the pressure within the suction space is limited by the vacuum level (0 bar) such that at a pressure of e.g. 3 bar of the surrounding water (at a water depth of approximately 20 meter), a pump system rated for 5 bar pressure difference shall be unable to lower the pressure for more then 3 bar within the suction space (in practise the maximum attainable under pressure level will be a fraction of 1 bar above vacuum, e.g. 0.1 or 0.05 bar).

A prior art pump system is disclosed in EP17166678.7

One or more of the following preferably applies to the pump system (any one of the mentioned parts preferably permanently mounted to the pump system): designed to stably bear onto the suction pile top bulkhead, e.g. by comprising at least three mutually spaced supporting feet; a main frame, to carry all parts of the pump system; a three dimensional enclosure, e.g. a space frame of, preferably straight, beams, as an external protecting shell or envelope (also called "protective frame") for the fluid pumps, e.g. of rectangular and/or elongate shape, wherein the one or more fluid pumps are enclosed within the space delimited by the protective frame; at least one or two, electrically or hydraulically driven, fluid pumps, e.g. one or more of centrifugal type, fixed displacement type (e.g. "lobe pump"), positive displacement type (e.g. membrane or piston type); at least two fluid pumps of different or identical type; a fluid pump of high flow low pressure type, e.g. centrifugal fluid pump; a fluid pump of low flow high pressure type, e.g. membrane pump or piston pump or positive displacement pump; an interface means, e.g. provided by or comprising a from the lower side of the pump system downward projecting tube stud, providing the pump system interface to connect the fluid pump to the suction space for fluid communication, which interface means preferably is provided with a seat, e.g. a flange, at its end remote from the pump system, against which the corresponding interface means at the suction pile, e.g.provided by or comprising an upward directed pipe stud, becomes seated, e.g. a corresponding seat, e.g. a flange; the interface means provided with a seal for sealing engagement to the suction pile interface means; the interface means designed such that, if the interface means of the pump system and the suction pile are fluidly connected, the pump is fluidly connected to the suction space through a fluid line connected to both the pump and to the pump system interface means; the pump system, preferably at or adjacent and/or at opposite sides of the interface means,provided with a connector member for releasable locking engagement with a corresponding connector member at the bucket, e.g. provided at the bucket top bulkhead, e.g. at the corresponding interface means of the bucket or adjacent and/or at opposite sides of the bucket interface means; the connector member comprising a quick connector with preferably padlock eye system for engagement with a corresponding quick connector at the bucket; the interface means designed for spring loaded seated connection to the bucket interface means; a measurement probe, e.g. echo sounder probe, designed for measurement through top bulkhead tube stud of bucket; docking cone designed to penetrate top bulkhead tube stud to align pump system for sufficient sealing; piping provided with one or more, e.g. two, 3way valves for changing the water flow direction provided by a fluid pump, e.g. centrifugal pump, from suction to pressing without the need to reverse the fluid pump; pin override system on latching pins; valve arrangement for reversing pump flow; vent valve arrangement in pump system (e.g. straight above or integrated in or associated with the interface means); system to temporarily increase venting capacity; convenient position of its centre of gravity, preferably approximately in the centre of the pump system, e.g. one or more of lengthwise, widthwise and heightwise; lift and/or upend appliance; a control panel, e.g. having a width and/or height at least 25 or 50 centimetre, connected and designed to be operated by a ROV such that the ROV can operate and monitor the pump system and provided with input and output means adapted for the ROV, e.g. input means such as one or more actuators, e.g.one or two or more mechanical switches and/or mechanical levers, e.g.to open or close a valve or different operating means of the pump system, designed to be operated by an actuating means, e.g. robot arm, of the ROV and/or output means such as one or two or more display devices, e.g. gauges or an electronic display screen, designed to be monitored by a camera of the ROV to e.g. capture a pressure or temperature or different data of the pump system; the control panel being fastened to and/or carried by the protective frame and/or the first area.

The invention is based on the discovery, made by the inventor, that the operation of the pump system is made easier if any of the below disclosed innovations are adopted.

The in this application cited documents are inserted in here by reference and each provide technical background for a better understanding of this invention.

Preferably one or more of the following applies: the suction required to penetrate the suction bucket into the subsea bottom during installation is generated above the top bulkhead of the suction bucket, preferably since the suction side of a suction pump means or the pressure side of a pressure pump means is connected to the suction bucket at a location above the top bulkhead, e.g.the top bulkhead is provided with a nozzle or different sealable port for fluid connection of the suction space with a separate suction or pressure pump means; the diameter of the suction bucket is constant over its height (the height is the direction from the top bulkhead towards the opposite open end); from the top bulkhead the cylinder walls of the suction bucket extend parallel; the open end of the suction bucket, designed to be located on the sea floor first is completely open, in other words, its aperture is merely bordered by the cylinder walls; the water depth is such that the suction bucket is completely below the water surface when its lower end contacts the sea floor, in other words when its lower end has not penetrated the sea floor yet; the foundation comprises three, four or more mutually spaced suction buckets; the by releasable sealing means, e.g. a valve, selectively closable port in the top bulkhead to allow water entering and/or exiting the suction bucket is provided with a coupling means designed for temporary engagement of a suction and/or pressure pump at the time of installing, settlement correction and removing, respectively, of the suction bucket into and from, respectively, the seafloor soil, which port is associated with the fluid flow channel.

Preferably, the design of the suction bucket is such that fluid from a source, e.g. pressure pump, flows from the source through a sealed channel, terminating below the bulkhead and within the suction space. During sucking in the pressure is typically at least 0.1 or 0.25 or 0.5 or 1 bars below the local water pressure external from the suction bucket. During pressing out (correction operation or decommissioning) the pressure is typically at least 0.25 or 0.5 or 1 or 2 bars above the local water pressure external from the suction bucket.

The suction bucket is also preferably provided with known as such valves and/or hatches adjacent or at its top bulkhead for selectively allowing water and air to enter or exit the suction space through the top side of the suction bucket.

The pump system interface means and the suction pile interface means preferably have, in the operational position during suction or pressing, a longitudinal axis parallel to the one of the suction pile.

The top bulkhead of the suction pile is provided with an interface means, e.g. upward projecting tube stud, providing the suction pile interface to connect the fluid pump to the suction space. Preferably this means is provided with one or more of: a valve to selectively seal the suction space; a seat, e.g. a flange, at its end remote from the top bulkhead, onto which the corresponding interface means at the pump system, e.g. downward directed pipe stud, becomes seated, e.g. a corresponding seat, e.g. a flange; a coupling member for releasable and/or temporary engagement with the corresponding member at the pump system interface, e.g. a padlock eye system, preferably oriented for penetration in a direction perpendicular to the suction pile longitudinal axis. The padlock eye system preferably comprises a retractable pin, preferably provided with a drive means to extend and retract, and/or at least one plate or structural element,mutually spaced and/or parallel, each having a hole, aligned mutually and with the pin. Preferably the plate or element extends parallel to the interface longitudinal axis and/or the hole is oriented for inserting a pin perpendicular to the suction pile longitudinal axis. The coupling member could also be provided at another location at the bucket, e.g. adjacent and/or at opposite sides of the interface means.

The invention is directed to a pump system to be operatively connected temporary to a suction pile as a marine structure or part of it, the suction pile preferably provided by an open bottom and closed top, advantageously cylindrical, elongate shell providing a suction compartment or suction space, said closed top having an externally facing upper face and an opposite, toward the suction space facing lower face and preferably provided with one or more valves selectively allowing fluid communication between the suction space and the environment.

To the lift and/or upend appliance, preferably one or more of the following applies: designed to lift or move the complete pump system, e.g. by acting on the main frame and/or protective frame; designed such that if the pump system is attached to the suction pile and is lifted by a hoisting means (e.g. crane hook of a crane) attached to the main frame and/or protective frame, the suction pile suspends from the lift appliance;having means for coupling of the pump system to the top bulkhead while simultaneously it is preferably allowed that the suction pile interface means and the pump system interface means can switch between two states such that they are selectively mutually spaced (e.g. for venting capacity, e.g. increased) or mutually connected; a from the pump system separate connector means or frame is provided with an element of the pump system coupling system and is attached to the pump system, e.g.main frame and/or protective frame by at least one movement means, preferably linear actuator, e.g. hydraulic jack, preferably regularly spaced around the pump system interface means; the element of the pump system coupling system is adapted for, preferably releasable, engagement with an element of the suction pile coupling system; while the elements of the pump system coupling system and the suction pile coupling system are mutually engaged, the distance between the pump system and the suction pile can be adapted by operating the linear actuator to extend or retract; this mutual movement of the pump system interface means and the suction pile interface means is a linear or a tilting movement, in which latter case the connector means is preferably pivoted to the pump system. In this manner de flow through area is e.g. enlarged from 20 inch to 28 inch diameter, for venting.

To the quick connector to the top bulkhead tube stud, preferably one or more of the following applies: with means for releasable locking to the suction pile interface means; with preferably a hole and/or pin, the pin preferably operated by actuator means of the pump system to move between a releasing retracted and locking extended position, preferably by lengthwise movement and/or movement perpendicular to the interface means longitudinal axis; a padlock eye system; a spring loaded seated connection, e.g. a longitudinally resilient tube stud, preferably providing the tube free end (viz. e.g.fig. 13).The padlock eye system preferably comprises (viz. e.g. fig. 14-16) one or two spaced parallel plates or structural elements each having a mutually registered hole, the plates or elements preferably projecting from the pump system interface means and the coupling with the suction pile is made by locating a hole in a plate or structural element of the suction pile interface means in register with the pump system interface means and inserting a tightly fitting pin into these two or three holes. The plates or elements preferably extend parallel to the interface means longitudinal axis.

To the docking cone preferably one or more of the following applies: designed to penetrate the suction pile interface means, e.g. top bulkhead tube stud to align the pump system, or part of it, for sufficient sealing coupling of both interface means; projects downwards and/or below the pump system; is provided by a spatial arrangement of plate like members to provide maximum flow through passage, e.g. at right angle crossing plates oriented parallel to and the cross axis co axial with the interface longitudinal axis (viz. e.g. fig. 8); co axial with pump system interface means.

DISCLOSURE OF INNOVATIONS

Preferably, the object is obtained by one or more of: a pump interface remote from the protective frame; an auxiliary support frame; a hinged lift appliance; a level indicator.

PUMP INTERFACE REMOTE FROM PROTECTIVE FRAME

The pump system preferably has the pump interface means, permanently mounted to the main frame, located externally from and/or at a distance to, preferably aside from, the protective frame and/or the one or more fluid pumps, e.g. for a distance of at least 25 or 50 centimetre, preferably located at the lower side or bottom of the pump system. This allows for e.g. more design flexibility.

AUXILIARY SUPPORT FRAME

The main frame preferably comprises an auxiliary support frame located externally from and/or remote from the one or more fluid pumps and/or the protective frame, e.g. for a distance of at least 10 or 25 or 50 centimetre. Preferably one or more of the following applies to the auxiliary support frame: is laterally projecting from the protective frame, preferably from the lower side; is located at the lower side or bottom of the pump system; has one or more of the pump interface means, measuring instrument, lift appliance mounted to it and/or integrated with it; is provided by a space frame of, preferably straight, beams, e.g. having a rectangular and/or elongate shape, e.g. providing a, preferably flat, platform or plateau. This allows for e.g. more design flexibility.

A different definition of this feature is as follows: the pump system comprises a basic frame, e.g. shaped as a, preferably flat, platform or plateau that is, seen in top view, divided in at least two areas, the first area carries the one or more pumps and the second area carries one or more of the lift appliance, pump interface means vent valve arrangement and measuring instrument, wherein preferably the first area and second area each cover at least 25% of the surface area of the basic frame. Preferably one or more of the following applies: the protective frame, housing the one or more pumps, is part of and/or located in the first area and/or is not part of and/or not located in the second area; the first and second area are mutually divided by a straight line of separation; one or more of the basic frame, first and second area have a right angled, e.g. rectangular, shape in top view; the docking cone projects below the second area.

HINGED LIFT APPLIANCE

The lift appliance, preferably, is pivotable or hinged fastened to the pump system, preferably to the main frame, e.g. to the auxiliary support frame and/or at a location externally from and/or remote from the one or more fluid pumps and/or the protective frame, e.g. for a distance of at least 10 or 25 or 50 centimetre.One or more of the following applies:has a pivot shaft; is pivotable or hinged fastened and/or its pivot shaft is located at low level or at the lower side or bottom or in the lower half of the height measured from the under side to the top side of the protective frame of the pump system; can pivot between a horizontal and vertical position; comprises a rigid bracket that is hinged fastened to the pump system; comprises an e.g. U-shaped, rigid bracket having two legs, the two free ends of the two legs of it are hinged mounted to the pump system; the rigid bracket is hinged fastened to the pump system at two spaced locations at least 50 centimetre separated; the lift appliance, e.g.rigid bracket has a gantry like design; straddles the pump system interface means; is hinged fastened at opposite sides of the pump system interface means; covers in the horizontal position a delicate part, e.g. measuring instrument or display screen, of the pump system; is provided with the quick connector, e.g. padlock eye system, for releasable fastening to the bucket for which preferably the pivot shaft provides the pin of the padlock eye system and/or is designed axially retractable and is provided with a drive means, e.g. hydraulic cylinder, to axially retract and extend to obtain a completely retracted and a completely extended position; the one or more structural elements, e.g. plates, with hole of the padlock eye system are fastened to the rigid bracket; each leg of the rigid bracket is provided with at least one or two parallel structural elements, e.g. plates, with a hole of the padlock eye system; straight below the pivot shaft the pump system is provided with an opening to allow passage from below of the bucket quick connector, e.g. plate with hole of the padlock eye system; the pivot shaft is provided by two mutually aligned length parts having an axial spacing of at least 25 or 50 centimetre and/or each associated with a leg of the rigid bracket; the pivot shaft, e.g. at least one or each of the two mutually aligned length parts of the pivot shaft, is provided as retractable pin of the padlock eye system, provided with a drive means for retraction and extension; the pivot shaft or each pivot shaft length part is aligned with the associated holes of which one or two are provided in structural elements (16, 36) of the frame of the pump system and one or two are provided in structural elements (35) of the lift appliance; the pivot shaft or each length part penetrates if completely retracted the holes of only one of the two of both the lift appliance structural elements (35) and the pump system frame structural elements (16) and if completely extended at least said two holes, preferably three or four holes; the holes of the lift appliance are located between the holes of the pump system frame; the pivot shaft provides hoisting load transfer between a pump system frame structural element and a lift appliance structural element; the lift appliance, e.g. rigid bracket, has a symmetrical shape and/or has an attachment means, e.g. eye, for a hoisting member, e.g. hook of a hoisting device, e.g. crane; has a releasable lock means to temporary lock the hinged position, e.g. angle, of the lift appliance relative to the pump system frame; the releasable lock means has a drive means for locking and/or unlocking and/or a retractable member, e.g. lock pin; the releasable lock means, e.g. its retractable member, is located radially eccentrically from the pivot shaft and/or at a radial distance from the pivot shaft at least 10 centimetre; the releasable lock means has a part, e.g. pin, associated with the pump system frame and a part, e.g. hole, associated with the lift appliance, or vice versa, which parts can be temporary mutually engaged for locking and thus avoid pivoting of the lift appliance relative to the pump system frame; the lock pin is axially moved by the drive means to obtain a completely extended and a completely retracted position; the drive means is provided with a biasing spring to bias the lock means to the locking position. This allows for e.g. more design flexibility.

LEVEL INDICATOR

A measuring instrument, e.g. level indicator (to indicate the verticality of the upright bucket), is provided at the main frame, e.g. at the auxiliary frame, at a location to be covered and/or overlaid or blocked for viewing by the hinged lift appliance if not in the upright position, e.g. in the parallel to the top plate position (i.e. horizontal position), and be exposed if in the upright position or not in the parallel to the top plate position. The measuring instrument is e.g. designed to be viewed from above by e.g. an ROV camera. If covered/overlaid/blocked, it is protected by the hinged lift appliance against damage from impact of a falling object.

The invention is further illustrated by way of non-limiting, presently preferred embodiments providing the best way of carrying out the invention and shown in the drawings.

Fig. 1 a top view of a suction pile;

Fig. 2 a sectional side view according to the fig. 1 line A-A of the suction pile and a pump system on top of it;

Fig. 3 a pump system in perspective view;

Fig. 4 (was 6) a side view of the fig. 3 system;

Fig. 5 (was 14) an exploded side view of a pin locked flange coupling;

Fig. 6 (was 19) a perspective view of an alternative to the Fig. 5 (was 14) embodiment;

Fig. 7 (was 21) a perspective of the inventive pump system;

Fig. 8 (was 22) an end view of the system of fig. 7;

Fig. 9-11 (was23-25) pictures of the system of fig. 7;

Fig. 12-14 perspectives of the system of Fig. 7;

Fig. 15 a perspective of a detail of fig. 7;

Fig. 16 a front view of a part of fig. 7; and

Fig. 17 a schematic perspective view of an alternative inventive pump system. Fig. 1-6 show known as such components of the pump system.

Except for Fig. 13-15, the pump system is shown in its operative position of the bucket is vertically upright positioned.

Fig. 1-2 show the suction pile interface means 5, the cylindrical wall 7, the pump system 1, the pump system interface means 9, the seafloor 11, the soil plug 12 within the suction space, the top bulkhead 6, the longitudinal axis 14, the open lower side 8.

Fig. 3-5 show particulars of the pump system, particularly the above discussed features: a quick connector to mutually lock the pump system and suction pile interface means releasably; measurement probe design; docking cone design; piping for changing the water flow direction without reversing the pump; pin override system on latching pins; vent valve arrangement in pump system; compact pump system size dimensions.

Fig. 3 illustrates the protective external space frame 24 and the four supporting feet 25. At the top, the frame 24 is provided with attachments 28 (e.g. eyes) for a hoisting device to hoist the pump system 1 and also the suction pile suspending from the pump system when the interface means 5, 9 are mutually coupled. The pump 3 and its drive at opposite sides of the interface means 5, 9 are visible.

Fig. 6 shows the protective element at a distance above the pump system interface means, as part of the vent valve arrangement. The cone 27 is the lower part (fig. 4 and 6).

Fig. 5 shows to the right hand side the locked state. This embodiment can be designed such that the complete suction pile can suspend from the mutually locked interface means 5, 9, in different words the suction pile can suspend from the protective frame. The arrow illustrates the displacement of the pump system interface means 9 towards the suction pile interface means 5.

Fig. 6 shows of the padlock eye system the two parallel plates 16 associated with the pump system interface means, and the pin 17 to mutually lock the registered holes of the three plates 15, 16. The plate 15 being part of the padlock eye system and sandwiched between the plates of the pump system interface means if the interface means are mutually locked. Also shown is the hydraulic jack 18 as the actuator to retract and extend the pin 17.

Fig. 6 shows an embodiment for rigid coupling of the pump system 1 to the top bulkhead 6 while simultaneously it is allowed that the pipes 5 and 9 are selectively mutually spaced (e.g. for purposes of venting fluid from inside the suction pile to the environment) or mutually connected. A connector frame 23 is provided with the plates 16 of the padlock eye system. The connector frame 23 is attached to the protective frame 24 by four hydraulic jacks 22 (three visible in fig. 6) regularly spaced around the interface means 9. At the time the plates

15 and 16 are mutually fixed by the pins 17, the distance between the pipes 5 and 9 can be adapted by operating the hydraulic jacks to extend or retract.

The fig. 6 embodiment allows to suspend the suction pile from the protective frame 24.

Fig. 7-15 show how the hinge of the hinged lift appliance is located aside from the protective frame enveloping the pump system.

Fig. 8 illustrates the location of the level indicator 30, exposed since the hinged lift appliance 31 is in the upright position. Fig. 7 and 8 show the control panel (in fig. 8 shown at the right hand side of the lift appliance 31 and in front of the protective frame 24).

Fig. 11 shows the cone 27 of the pump system in register closely above the suction pile interface means 5, the hinged lift appliance 31 suspended from a crane hook 10.

Fig. 15 and 16 show of the padlock eye system the plates

16 permanently fixed to the pump system. The plate 15 permanently fixed to the top bulkhead 6 of the bucket is inserted from below between the lift plates 35 of the hinged lifting bracket 31. Pin 17 (i.e. the pivot shaft of the lift appliance 31) penetrates the registered holes of the plates 15 and 35. Also shown is a retractable lock pin 33 to temporary lock the hinged lifting bracket 31 in a fixed angular position relative to the frame 24. If extended (as shown in fig. 15) the lock pin 33 penetrates a lock hole in bracket 36 that is rigid with auxiliary support frame 32.

Fig. 15 shows an opening 37 in auxiliary support frame 32. The plate 15 (imaginary shown) at the top bulkhead 6 is inserted from below through this opening 37 to project between the lift plates 35, to unite the bucket with the pump system

1.

If completely extended, the pin 17 penetrates holes in the plate 16, the two plates 35, the bracket 36 and possibly the plate 15 (only if the pump system is fastened to a bucket). If completely retracted, the pin 17 penetrates holed is the plate 16 and the plate 35 closest to plate 16, only.

Fig. 9-11 show pin 17 retracted such that plate 15 can freely move in and out the space between the lift plates 35. Fig. 15-16 show pin 17 extended and thus penetrates the hole in plate 15 and bracket 36, if the pump system 1 is properly located on top of the top bulkhead 6.

Fig. 31 shows the pump interface means 9 aside from the protective frame 24 of the pump 3, the pump interface means 9 carried by an auxiliary support frame 32 projecting sideways from and integral with the bottom or lower part of protective frame 24, and the location of the level indicator 30 and of a liquid line 34 between pump 3 and pump interface means 9.

The invention is not limited to the above described and in the drawings illustrated embodiments. E.g. the marine structure can have a different number of suction buckets. The drawing, the specification and claims contain many features in combination. The skilled person will consider these also individually and combine them to further embodiments. Features of different in here disclosed embodiments can in different manners be combined and different aspects of some features are regarded mutually exchangeable.All described or in the drawing disclosed features provide as such or in arbitrary combination the subject matter of the invention, also independent from their arrangement in the claims or their referral.