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Title:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR INSERTING AN ELONGATE OBJECT INTO A TRENCH IN A SEA FLOOR
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2021/063675
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A vehicle (2) for deploying a cable (4) into a trench (8) in the sea bed (10) is disclosed. The vehicle (2) comprises a body (12) adapted to move relative to the trench (8) in the sea bed (10), and a bellmouth (18) for engaging the cable (4) and mounted to the body, wherein the bellmouth (18) is adapted to define an open channel (20) in a direction facing the trench (8) for engaging the cable (4).

Inventors:
WALKER, John Graeme (Turbinia WorksDavy Bank, Wallsend Tyne and Wear NE28 6UZ, GB)
WHITE, Roger, Paul (Turbinia WorksDavy Bank, Wallsend Tyne and Wear NE28 6UZ, GB)
Application Number:
EP2020/075803
Publication Date:
April 08, 2021
Filing Date:
September 16, 2020
Export Citation:
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Assignee:
SOIL MACHINE DYNAMICS LIMITED (Davy Bank, Wallsend Tyne and Wear NE28 6UZ, GB)
International Classes:
E02F5/10; H02G1/10; B63B35/04; H02G9/02
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VINSOME, Rex Martin (The Core Bath LaneNewcastle Helix,Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE4 5TF, GB)
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Claims:
Claims

1. An apparatus for deploying an elongate object into a trench in a floor of a body of water, the apparatus comprising a body adapted to move relative to a trench in a floor of a body of water, and an engaging device for engaging an elongate object and mounted to the body, wherein the engaging device is adapted to define an open channel in a direction facing the trench for engaging the elongate object.

2. An apparatus according to claim 1, wherein the engaging device comprises first position detector means for detecting the position of a first part of the elongate object.

3. An apparatus according to claim 2, wherein the first position detector means is adapted to detect the position of the first part of the elongate object prior to insertion of said first part into the trench.

4. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising second position detector means for detecting the position of a second part of the elongate object.

5. An apparatus according to claim 4, wherein the second position detector means is adapted to detect the position of the second part of the elongate object subsequent to insertion of said second part into the trench.

6. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising clearing means for clearing obstacles from the trench.

7. An apparatus according to claim 6, wherein the clearing means includes at least one jetting device.

8. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the engaging device is moveable between a deployed position and a stowed position. 9. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising thrusters for enabling vertical and/or horizontal movement of the apparatus.

10. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising means for increasing the buoyancy of the apparatus in water.

11. An apparatus according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising tracks for enabling the vehicle to move along the floor of the body of water. 12. A method of inserting a cable into a trench in a floor of a body of water, wherein the cable extends from a vessel on a surface of the body of water to the floor of the body of water, the method comprising determining the position of a first part of a cable before insertion of said first part into a trench; determining a position of a second part of the cable after insertion of the second part into the trench; determining the path of the cable from the vessel to the trench from the positions of said first and second parts; and adjusting the position of the vessel relative to the trench to adjust the path of the cable from the vessel to the trench.

13. A method according to claim 12, further comprising displacing obstacles in the trench.

14. A method according to claim 13, wherein the obstacles are displaced by means of water jets.

Description:
METHOD AND APPARATUS FOR INSERTING AN ELONGATE OBJECT INTO A

TRENCH IN A SEA FLOOR

The present disclosure relates to a method and apparatus for inserting an elongate object into a trench in a floor of a body of water, and relates particularly, but not exclusively, to a method and apparatus for inserting a cable into a trench in a sea floor.

Apparatus for inserting a cable into a trench in a sea floor are known which comprise a vehicle remotely operated from a surface vessel via an umbilical cable, wherein the vehicle moves along a cable and inserts the cable into a pre-formed trench. However, apparatus of this type suffer from the drawback that the speed of deployment is limited, and there is a risk of damage to the cable because the apparatus encloses the cable.

Preferred embodiment of the present disclosure seek to overcome one or more of the above disadvantages of the prior art.

According to an aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided an apparatus for deploying an elongate object into a trench in a floor of a body of water, the apparatus comprising a body adapted to move relative to a trench in a floor of a body of water, and an engaging device for engaging an elongate object and mounted to the body, wherein the engaging device is adapted to define an open channel in a direction facing the trench for engaging the elongate object.

By providing an engaging device adapted to define an open channel in a direction facing the trench for engaging the elongate object, this provides the advantage of enabling the position of the elongate object to be more accurately determined, thereby increasing the speed of deployment of the cable. The open channel defined by the engaging device also enables the apparatus to be lifted off the elongate object in an emergency without subsea intervention operations on the apparatus, and reduces the risk of damage to the elongate object. The engaging device may comprise first position detector means for detecting the position of a first part of the elongate object.

The first position detector means may be adapted to detect the position of the first part of the elongate object prior to insertion of said first part into the trench.

The apparatus may comprise second position detector means for detecting the position of a second part of the elongate object.

The second position detector means may be adapted to detect the position of the second part of the elongate object subsequent to insertion of said second part into the trench.

This provides the advantage of enabling the path of an elongate object such as a cable extending from a surface vessel to the trench to be determined.

The apparatus may further comprise clearing means for clearing obstacles from the trench. The clearing means may include at least one jetting device.

The engaging device may be moveable between a deployed position and a stowed position.

This provides the advantage of enabling the apparatus to be compact, which in turn allows it to be launched from the vessel stern. This ensures that if the apparatus needs to be recovered as a result of a failure, it can be lifted directly off the elongate object without manoeuvring the vessel.

The apparatus may further comprise thrusters for enabling vertical and/or horizontal movement of the apparatus.

This provides the advantage of enabling free fly of the apparatus beyond the touch down position of the elongate object when launched from a vessel and the apparatus to land over a pre-cut trench. The apparatus may further comprise means for increasing the buoyancy of the apparatus in water,

This provides the advantage of enabling the weight of the apparatus in water to be optimally matched to the power requirements of any thrusters used for free fly of the apparatus, and the weight of the apparatus in water to be optimised for depressing an elongate object such as a cable into the trench.

The apparatus may further comprise tracks for enabling the vehicle to move along the floor of the body of water.

According to another aspect of the present disclosure, there is provided a method of inserting a cable into a trench in a floor of a body of water, wherein the cable extends from a vessel on a surface of the body of water to the floor of the body of water, the method comprising determining the position of a first part of a cable before insertion of said first part into a trench; determining a position of a second part of the cable after insertion of the second part into the trench; determining the path of the cable from the vessel to the trench from the positions of said first and second parts; and adjusting the position of the vessel relative to the trench to adjust the path of the cable from the vessel to the trench.

This provides an advantage of enabling the path of the cable into the trench to be optimised, which in turn enables the rate of cable deployment to be improved.

The method may further comprise displacing obstacles in the trench.

The obstacles may be displaced by means of water jets.

Preferred embodiments of the disclosure will now be described, by way of example only and not in any limitative sense, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:- Figure 1 is a perspective view from below of a cable deployment apparatus of an embodiment;

Figure 2 is a perspective view from above of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1;

Figure 3 is an end view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1 with components in a stowed condition;

Figure 4 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 3;

Figure 5 is an end view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1 with components in a deployed condition;

Figure 6 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 5;

Figure 7 is a front view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1 in a first mode;

Figure 8 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 7;

Figure 9 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus in the first mode for a first cable path;

Figure 10 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus in the first mode for a second cable path;

Figure 11 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus in the first mode for a third cable path;

Figure 12 is a front view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1 in a second mode; Figure 13 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 12; Figure 14 is a front view of the cable deployment apparatus burying a cable in the trench in the second mode;

Figure 15 is a side view of the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 14; and

Figure 16 is a view of a surface vessel and the cable deployment apparatus of Figure 1.

Referring to the Figures, a cable deployment apparatus in the form of a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) 2 for deploying a cable 4 extending from a surface vessel 6 to a trench 8 in the sea bed 10 has a body 12, thrusters 14, tracks 16 for supporting the vehicle 2 on the sea bed 10 laterally of the trench 8, and a cable engagement device in the form of a bellmouth 18 located forwards of the vehicle body 12. The tracks 16 enable the vehicle 2 to progress along the trench 8 from the landing position towards the cable touchdown point

The bellmouth 18 defines an open channel 20 in a direction facing the trench 8 for engaging a cable 4 to be deployed into the trench 8, so that the vehicle 2 can be lowered to and raised from the cable 4 with minimal risk of damage to the cable 4. Also, the open channel 20 of the bellmouth 18 facing the trench 8 enables the vehicle 2 to be lifted off the cable 4 in an emergency without subsea intervention operations on the vehicle 2.

The body 12 of the vehicle 2 contains a buoyancy block, and the thrusters 14 of the vehicle 2 comprise four vertical thrusters 14 and four horizontal thrusters 14. The vertical thrusters 14 enable free fly of the vehicle 2, and the horizontal thrusters 14 enable positioning of the vehicle 2. This enables free fly of the vehicle 2 beyond the cable touch down position when launched from the vessel 6 and the vehicle 2 to land over a pre-cut trench 8. The buoyancy block ensures that the vertical thruster power requirement for free fly operations is practicable.

The vehicle 2 also has a pair of jetting swords 22 for location on opposite sides of the cable 4 for clearing obstacles from the trench 8 by means of water jets, and a depressor 24 for pressing the cable 4 into the trench 8 rearwardly of the vehicle body 12. The buoyancy block size enables the in water weight of the vehicle 2 to be optimised for depressing a cable 4 into the trench 8 by ensuring that the in water weight of the vehicle 2 is sufficient to allow the cable 4 to be depressed with the vertical thrusters 14 thrusting upwards if required. The bellmouth 18 is provided with sensors 26 for determining the position of a first part 28 of the cable 4 before the first part 28 of the cable is inserted into the trench 8.

A cable tracker sensor 30 is located rearwards of the vehicle body 12 for determining the position of a second part 32 of the cable 4 subsequently to insertion of the second part 32 of the cable 4 into the trench 8. The positions of the first 28 and second 32 parts of the cable 4 enable the path of the catenary curve of the cable 4 from the surface vessel 6 to the sea bed 10 to be determined. A further cable sensor 34 is located forwards of the vehicle body 12.

The cable sensors 30, 34, cable engagement device 18 and depressor 24 are pivotable between a storage position and a deployed position. The jetters 22 are also pivotable to adjust the jetting depth. By providing components which are pivotable between storage and deployed positions, this provides the advantage of making the vehicle 2 compact, which allows it to be launched from the vessel stem, and ensures that if it is necessary to recover the vehicle 2 as a result of a failure, the vehicle 2 can be lifted directly off the cable 4 without manoeuvring the vessel 6.

The operation of the vehicle 2 will now be described.

The determination of the position of the first part 28 of the cable 4 before the first part 28 of the cable 4 is inserted into the trench 8, and the second part 32 of the cable 4 after the second part 32 has been inserted into the trench 8, enables the path of the catenary curve of the cable 4 from the surface vessel 6 to the sea bed 10 to be determined. The rate of insertion of the cable 4 into the trench 8 can be optimised by adjusting the position of the surface vessel 6 relative to the vehicle 2, which in turn enables the shape of the catenary curve of the cable 4 to be adjusted.

As shown in greater detail in Figures 9 to 11 , for a cable deployment operation with a long layback, the bellmouth 18 is located in the pre-formed trench 8 below the level of the sea bed 10. For a cable deployment operation with a medium layback, the bellmouth 18 is located in the pre-formed trench 8 at the level of the sea bed 10. For a cable deployment operation with a short layback, the bellmouth 18 is located above the level of the sea bed 10.

It will be appreciated by persons skilled in the art that the above embodiment has been described by way of example only and not in any limitative sense, and that various alterations and modifications are possible without departure from the scope of the disclosure as defined by the appended claims.