Title of Invention

A FAIRLEAD FOR GUIDING AND SECURING A CHAIN USED FOR MOORING AN OFFSHORE STRUCTURE

Abstract The present invention is a fairlead for guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and an anchor. The fairlead comprises a fairlead frame, a pivoting latch. and an acmator. The fairlead frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure and supports an axle for a chain sheave. The pivoting tatch is mounted to pivot on the axle and comprises a tension link with a chain latch and a counterweight for urging the chain latch into engagement with the chain. The pivoting tatch is configured to engage the chain only when the chain is traveling in the payout direction. The actuator controls the action of the counterweight.
Full Text

FAIRLEAD WITH INTEGRATED CHAIN STOPPER
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
[001] The present invention relates to apparatus and methods for
handling a submerged swiveling mooring line used 10 moor a floating structure.
More specifically, the present invention relates to a fairlead installed on an
offshore platform or vessel, although it is not restricted to such uses.
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
[002] Offshore structures, such as floating production, drilling or
construction platforms or other vessels, are moored in the desired location through
the use of chains and/or cables extending between the platform and anchors on the
ocean floor. Typically, the method for mooring floating platforms includes
extending a chain in a catenary from the ocean anchor to a platform, through a
fairlead device secured near the bottom of a platform column, to chain hauling
equipment and it chain stopper on the deck of the platform. These elements are
used to apply the desired mooring tension and to withstand the higher tensions
that may be encountered in weather situations.
[003] Mooring platforms in place at a drilling or production location
usually require the presence of multiple chains, fairlead devices, anchors and
chain equipment because of the massive size of the platforms. These all compete
for space on the limited deck area of a platform, which also usually must be large
enough for one or more buildings for housing workers and machinery, one or
more cranes, and a drilling lower or production facilities.
[004] Floatation of offshore platforms is often provided by large
submerged pontoons. Large diameter columns extend upward from the pontoons
to support the deck and the mooring lines are led out from multiple columns.
Thus, fairlead devices are usually secured to the columns of the platform below
the waterline. For other vessels that are moored in place, the fairlead may be
secured to a hull surface or structure extending from the main surface of the hull.
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also usually but not exclusively below the waterline. The mooring lines often
chains or combinations of wire rope and chain, pass from the anchors, through
each of the fairlead devices, to line hauling equipment situated on the deck above.
[005] In a typical installation, the anchor lines are installed by passing a
messenger line (i.e., installation wire rope) from the deck, down through, the
submerged fairlead, mounted on a support column, and out to a pre-installed
anchor line secured to the ocean floor. An end connector secures the messenger
line to the anchor chain and the anchor chain is hauled back to the platform. The
anchor chain passes through the fairlead and continues up to the deck as the chain
is hauled in to achieve the desired mooring tension. Thus, one of the
requirements of an "underwater fairlead is that it be able to pass the chain itself,
special connecting links and the messenger line.
[006] Because the chain comes into the fairlead at an angle before
ascending essentially vertically to the deck, a sheave is used to change direction.
The sheaves used in these chain-mooring applications are usually pocketed
wheels, known as wildcats, which receive links of the chain in pockets. This
helps reduce the chain stresses in the links resting on the wildcat.
[007] On the deck, the chain hauling equipment pre-tensions the chain up
to a predetermined percentage of the chain-breaking load. To relieve the chain
hauling equipment of the tension load, a chain stopper or chain latch locks the
chain in plate at the pre-tension load. In some prior art fairleads, the chain
stopper or chain latch is made a part of connected to the fairlead. In that case,
the chain stopper or latch will remain submerged in normal use and during
servicing. Thus, it is desirable to have a mechanism that needs little service and is
easy to service when required.
[008] There is a need in the art for a fairlead design that is simpler and
more reliable than existing designs.
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BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
[009] The present invention, in one embodiment is a fairlead apparatus
for guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure. The
fairlead apparatus comprises a fairlead frame, a chain sheave, a chain latch, and a
biasing mechanism for biasing said chain latch against the chain. The fairlead is
pivotally mounted to the offshore structure. The chain sheave is mounted for
rotation on a sheave axle supported by the fairlead frame. The chain latch
assembly is mounted for pivotal movement on the sheave axle and comprises a
tension link with a chain latch adapted to engage the chain. In one embodiment,
the chain latch engages the chain when the chain latch is biased against the chain
and the chain is traveling in the payout direction.
[010] The present invention, in one embodiment, is a fairlead for guiding
and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and an anchor. The
fairlead comprises a fairlead frame a pivoting latch, and an actuator. The fairlead
frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure and supports an axle for a
chain sheave. The pivoting latch is mounted to pivot on the axle and comprises a
tension link with a chain latch and a counterweight for urging the chain latch into
engagement with the chain. In one embodiment, the pivoting latch is configured
to engage the chain only when the chain is traveling in the payout direction. The
actuator is for controlling action of the counterweight.
[011] The present invention, in one embodiment, is a fairlead for guiding
and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and an anchor. The
fairlead comprises a fairlead frame a pivoting latch and an actuator. The fairlead
frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure and supports an axle for
rotatably supporting a chain sheave. The pivoting latch is mounted and supported
on the fairlead frame to pivot in a plane perpendicular to the axle supporting the
chain sheave. The pivoting latch comprises a tension link with a chain latch and a
counterweight for urging the chain lateh into engagement with the chain. The
actuator is for controlling action of the counterweight.
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[0l2] The present invention, in another embodiment is a method for
guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and an
anchor. The method comprises providing a chain sheave rotatably mounted on an
axle supported by a fairlead frame, in-hauling the anchor chain with the chain
sheave so the anchor chain's line of action is essentially tangential to the
circumference of the chain sheave and changing the anchor chain's line of action
to be essentially in-line with the axis of the axle.
[013] The present invention, in another embodiment, is a fairlead for
guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure. The fairlead
comprises a fairlead frame, a first structure and a second structure. The fairlead
frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure. The first structure is coupled
to the fairlead frame and adapted to cause a line of action of the chain, when the
chain is being paid out or in-hauled to bend about and be generally tangent ial
with, a radius having a center point. The second structure is adapted to change
the line of action to one that is generally inline with the center point.
[014] In one embodiment, the fairlead further comprises an apparatus
adapted to bias a portion of the second structure against the chain. In one
embodiment, the portion of the second structure is adapted to catch the chain
when the chain is being paid out, but to ratchet along the chain without catching
the chain when the chain is being in hauled. In one embodiment, the second
structure is pivotable about the center point.
[015] The present invention, in another embodiment, is a fairlead for
guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure, the fairlead
comprises a fairlead frame, a first structure and a second structure. The fairlead
frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure. The first structure is coupled
to the fairlead frame and adapted to cause a line of action of the chain, when the
chain is being paid out or in-hauled to bend about and be generally tangential
with a radius having a center point. The second structure pivotally depends from
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the fairlead frame is adapted to engage the chain, and has a sensor for reading a
tension force in the chain.
[016] In one embodiment, the first structure is a wildcat mounted for
rotation on art axle supported by the fairlead frame the axle being centered on the
center point. In one embodiment the second structure is pivotally mounted on the
axle. In one embodiment, the second structure is adapted to change the line of
action to one that is generally inline with the center point.
[017] In one embodiment, the sensor is a strain gage equipped bolt
having a longitudinal axis that is generally parallel to a longitudinal axis of the
second structure. In one embodiment, the sensor is a strain gage equipped load
pin having a longitudinal axis that is generally perpendicular to a longitudinal axis
of the second structure.
[018] While multiple embodiments are disclosed still other
embodiments of the present invention will become apparent to those skilled in the
art from the following detailed description, which shows and describes illustrative
embodiments of the invention. As will be realized the invention is capable of
modifications in various obvious aspects, all without departing from the spirit and
scope of the present invention. Accordingly, the drawings and detailed
description are to be regarded as illustrative in nature and not restrictive.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
[019] FIG. 1a is a perspective view of a fairlead of the present invention.
[020] FIG. 1b is a perspective view of a portion of an offshore platform
(e.g., a floating dock, barge, vessel, or ship), wherein the fairlead of FIG. la is
employed at two underwater locations on a column of the offshore platform.
[021] FIG. 2a is a side elevation of the fairlead of the present invention
with the chain latch engaged.
[022] FIG. 2b is a side elevation of the fairlead of the present invention
with the chain latch in position for ratcheting or riding on the chain during in
hauling.
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[023] FIG. 2c is a side elevation of the fairlead of the present invention
with the chain latch in position for releasing the chain.
[024] FIG. 3 is an end elevation of the fairlead of the present invention
with the chain latch in position for ratcheting on the chain during in hauling.
[025] FIG. 4 is a side elevation of one half of the pivoting chain latch
assembly of the fairlead of the present invention as it would appear if seen from
section line AA of FIG. 3.
[026] FIG. 5a is an end elevation of the latch head without the chain
being present and as the latch bead would appear if viewed from the direction
indicated by arrow B in FIG. 4.
[027] FIG. 5b is the same view of the latch head illustrated in FIG. 5a,
except with the chain being present.
[028] FIG. 5c is a sectional elevation of the latch head with the chain as
the latch head would appear if seen from section line BB in FIG. 5b.
[029] FIG. 6a is the same view of the latch head illustrated in FIG. 5a,
except the latch head has an alternative configuration,
[030] FIG. 6b is the same view of the latch head illustrated in FIG. 6a.
except with the chain being present.
[031] FIG. 6c is a sectional elevation of the latch head with the chain as
the latch head would appear if seen from section line CC in FIG. 6b.
[032] FIG. 7a is a side elevation of the fairlead of the present invention
having an alternative pivot print for the chain latch assembly.
[033] FIG. 7b is an end elevation of the fairlead illustrated in FIG. 7a.
[034] FIG. 8 is a detail view of the load sensors that are mounted on the
tension links of the fairlead of the present inversion as indicated in FIG. 4.
[035] FIG. 9a is a side elevation of the fairlead depicting a sensor and
tension link arrangement of an alternative embodiment of the invention.
[036] FIG. 9b is a plan view of the fairlead depicted in FIG. 9a.
[037] FIG. 10a is a side elevation view of a trunnion mounted fairlead.
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[038] FIG. 10b is a from elevation view of the fairlead depicted in FIG.
10a.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
[039] FIG. 1a is a perspective view of the fairlead I of the present
invention. FIG. 1b is a perspective view of a portion of an offshore platform 2
(e.g., a floating dock, barge, vessel or ship), wherein fairleads 1 are employed at
two under water locations on a column 3 of the offshore platform 2. Although an
offshore platform 1 is a common application, the fairlead 1 maybe employed on
other types of vessels (e.g., ship-shaped vessels).
[040] As illustrated in FIG. 1b, the fairleads 1 are mounted on a hull
structure 4 that is part of a column 3 used to support a corner of the offshore
platform 2. An anchor line 5 (e.g., a chain or cable) extends up from an
underwater anchor 6, through the fairlead 1, and up out of the water to the hauling
equipment 7. The chain 5 may then extend back down inside the hull structure 4
to chain locker 8 or other storage arrangement for excess chain.
[041] As shown in FIG. la. the fairlead 1 comprises a fairlead frame 60,
a chain sheave 70, and a chain latch assembly 90. The chain sheave 70 is used for
initial installation and pre-tensioning of the mooring chain 5. The chain latch
assembly 90 is used to transfer the chain tension from the chain sheave 70 to the
fairlead frame 60 and into the hull structure 4, once the chain pre-tensioning is
complete.
[042] As illustrated in FIG. 1a and FIGS. 2a-2c, the fairlead frame 60 has
one end pivotably attached to the hull structure 4 and another end supporting a
horizontal sheave axle 80. The fairlead frame 60 comprises two vertically
oriented side frames plates 64, 65 joined by top and bottom horizontal plates 66,
67 extending perpendicularly between the side frame plates 64,65. The top and
bottom horizontal plates 66, 67 are pivotably attached to upper and lower
foundation brackets 50, 52 via upper and lower vertical swivel pins 51, 53.
Specifically, the upper swivel pin 51 is connected between the upper foundation
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bracket 50 and the top horizontal plate 66, and the lower swivel pin 53 is
connected between the lower foundation bracket 52 and the bottom horizontal
plate 67. The upper and lower foundation brackets 50, 52 are secured to the hull
structure 4 of the offshore platform 2.
[043] The chain sheave 70 is rotatable about the horizontal sheave axle
80 and is thereby supported by the fairlead frame 60. In one embodiment, the
chain sheave 70 may be a pocketed "wildcat" or similar sheave around which the
anchor chain 5 may be guided as the chain 5 transitions from its anchor-to-
fairlead path to its vertical path extending up to the deck above.
[044] The chain latch assembly 90 is pivotablc about the horizontal
sheave axle 80 and comprises a latch head 192, a pair of tension links 194 a pair
of counterweight arms 196, and a pair of counterweights 197. The latch head 192
is adapted to engage the chain 5 and the counterweights 197 act to bias the latch
head 192 against the chain 5.
[045] When the chain 5 is hauled in or paid out to adjust the tension in
the chain 5, the sheave 70 rotates about the horizontal sheave axle 80 as the chain
5 passes through the fairlead 1. When the chain latch assembly 90 is engaged it
prevents the chain 5 from displacing through the fairlead 1 and transfers the chain
tension forces to the horizontal sheave axle 80, where the forces are transmitted to
the fairlead frame 60, through the upper and lower foundation brackets 50, 52
(with swivel pins 51,53) and into the hull structure 4 of the offshore platform 2.
[046] FIGS. 2a-2c are side elevations of the fairlead I of the present
invention with the chain latch assembly 90 in the various positions it can assume.
Specifically, FIG, 2a is a side elevation of the fairlead I with the chain latch
assembly 90 engaged to secure the chain 5; FIG. 2b is a side elevation of the
fairlead I with the chain latch assembly 90 in position for ratcheting or riding on
the chain 5 during in-hauling; FIG. 2c is a side elevation of the fairlead I with the
chain latch assembly 90 in position for releasing the chain 4.
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[047] As illustrated in FIG. 2a, when the chain latch assembly 90 is in its
latching or catching position, the latch head 192 engages a link in the chain 5 and
secures the chain 5 against further payout. The counterweights 197 cause the
chain latch assembly 90 to lend to pivot in a counterclockwise direction as seen in
FIGS. 2a-2c. Thus, the chain latch assembly 90 is biased into contact with the
chain 5 and, in particular, the latch head 192 is urged to ride on the chain 5 and to
swing into a chain grasping position in which the latch head 192 grasps a link so
the chain 5 cannot move further off the sheave 70 toward the anchor 6.
[048] As shown in FIG. 2b, when the chain latch assembly 90 is in
position for riding on the chain 5 during in hauling, the chain latch assembly 90
serves a ratching function. As long as in-hauling continues, the configuration of
the latch head 192 causes the chain latch assembly 90 to ride on but not latch or
hitch into the chain 5.
[043] As indicated in FIG. 2c, when the chain latch assembly 90 is in
position for releasing the chain 5 the latch head 192 completely clears the chain
5. Because the counterweights 197 bias the latch head 192 against the chain 5,
the chain latch assembly 90 must be urged fully out of engagement with the chain
5. In one embodiment, this is achieved by in hauling on the chain 5 to transfer the
tension from the tension links 194 to the sheave 70 and then pulling on a tag line
110 to lift the counterweights 197, thereby causing the chain latch assembly 90 to
pivot clockwise which causes the latch head 192 to completely clear the chain 5.
[050] For a more detailed discussion of the chain latch assembly 90
reference is now made to FIGS. 3 and 4. FIG. 3 is an end elevation of the fairlead
1 with the chain latch assembly 90 in position for ratcheting on the chain 5 during
in hauling. FIG. 4 is a side elevation of one half of the chain latch assembly 90 of
the fairlead 1 as it would appear if seen from section line AA of FIG. 3.
[051] As shown in FIG. 3, the chain latch assembly 90 is generally
symmetrical around a plane that is perpendicular to the horizontal sheave axle 80
and bisects the sheave 70. Bisecting the chain latch assembly 90 by said plane
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results in two symmetrical half sections the right half section 190 and the left half
section 290 of FIG. 3.
[052] As indicated in FIG. 4, which is a side elevation of the right
symmetrical half 190 of the chain latch assembly 90 illustrated in FIG. 3, one end
of the tension link 194 in attached to the latch head 192 and the other end is
attached to an axle hub 198 having an axle opening 199 that is adapted in receive,
and pivot about, the horizontal sheave axle 80 of the fairlead frame 60. One end
of the counterweight support arm 196 attaches to the tension link 194 between the
tension link's ends, and the other end of the counterweight support arm 196 is
attached to the counterweight 197.
[053] As shown in FIG. 4 in one embodiment, the latch head 192
comprises an engaging hook, latch or catch 193, a link slot wall 151 a short link
platform 152 a long link platform 153 a connection plate 150, and head sidewalls
158. The engaging hook, latch or catch 193 forms a link receiving pocket 200
and has a sloped backside 195 that allows a link to slide up and over the latch 193
as the chain 5 is in-hauled. This assembly may be cast, forged or milled as a
single unit.
[054] As previously stated, the left half 290 of the chain latch assembly
90 is a mirror image of the right half 190 shown in FIG. 4. The two halves 190
and 290 join at the connection plate 150 and the axle hub 198 to form one integral
unit, as indicated in FIG. 3. The connection plate 150 extends between the
engaging hook latch or catch 193 of the right half 190 and its symmetrical
counterpart in half 290.
[055] For a more detailed discussion of the latch head 192, reference is
now made to FIGS. 5a-5c. FIG. 5a is an end elevation of the latch head 192
without the chain 5 being present and as the latch head 192 would appear if
viewed from the direction indicated by arrow B in FIG. 4. FIG. 5b is the same
view of the latch head 192 illustrated in FIG. 5a except with the chain 5 being
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present. FIG. 5c is a sectional elevation of the latch head 192 with the chain 5 as
the latch head 192 would appear if seen from section line BB in FIG. 5b.
[056] As illustrated in FIG. 5a, the link slot walls 151 form a link
receiving slot 155 that runs the full length of the latch head 192. As indicated in
FIGS. 5b and 5c, the link-receiving slot 155 is adapted to accommodate links that
are oriented perpendicularly to the link platforms 152, 153 as the chain 5 is in-
hauled in the direction indicated by arrow D. As shown in FIGS. 5b and 5c, the
links that are oriented parallel to the link platforms 152, 153 slide along the link
platforms 152, 153 and the sloped backsides 195 of the engaging latches 193 as
the chain 5 is in-hauled in the direction indicated by arrow D. As illustrated in
FIGS. 5b and 5c, when the chain 5 has been paid out opposite the direction
indicated by arrow D, and the chain 5 has been latched onto by the latch head 192.
one end of a link that is parallel to the link platforms 152, 153 resides within the
link receiving pockets 200 formed by the latches 193 as links that are
perpendicular to the link platforms 152, 153 are accommodated by the link
receiving slot 155.
[057] FIGS. 4-5c illustrate a latch head 192 with latches 193 that contact
the exterior edge of a link residing in the link receiving pockets 200 without the
latches 193 passing through the interior space of an immediately adjacent link.
However, the latch head 192 may employ other configurations and still be
considered within the scope of the present invention. For example FIGS. 6a-6c.
which are respectively the same views as FIGS. 5a-5c, illustrate a latch head 192
with an alternative configuration. As shown in FIGS. 6a-6c, the latch head 192
comprises short and long link receiving slots 155a, 155b, head sidewalls 158, link
platforms 152 and a single latch 193 that is in-line with the link receiving slots
155a, 155b. The latch 193 forms a link-receiving pocket 200 and has a sloped
backside 195.
[058] With the exception of the single latch 193 and its link-receiving
pocket 200 the corresponding features of the latch head 192 illustrated in FIGS.
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6a-6c function similarly to those illustrated m FIGS. 5a-5c. The single latch 193,
of the latch head 192 shown in FIGS. 6a-6t, contacts the exterior edge of a link by
passing through the interior space of an immediately adjacent link.
[059] As can be understood from FIGS. 2a-6c and the preceding
disclosure the latch head 192 is configured so it engages the chain 5 only when
the latch head 192 is biased against the chain 5 and the chain 5 is traveling in a
payout direction that is opposite to the direction indicated by arrow D in FIGS.
5b, 5c, 6b and 6c. Although the latch head 192 may be biased against the chain 5>
the latch head 192 is configured so it ratches or rides on the chain 5, without
engaging the chain 5, when the chain 5 is traveling in an in-haul direction as
indicated by arrow D in FIGS. 5b, 5c, 6b and 6c.
[060] In one embodiment, the chain latch assembly 90 is preferably
mounted for pivotal motion on the sheave axle 80. However, as illustrated in
FIGS. 7a and 7b, which are side and end elevation views respectively of another
embodiment of the fairlead 1, the chain latch assembly 90 is mounted for similar
pivotal motion on pivot pins 300 supported by the fairlead frame 60. The chain
latch assembly 90 could also be supported at a second axle 302 (as shown in.
phantom in FIG. 7a) so as not to interfere with the sheave 70.
Load Sensors
[061] Monitoring of loads in mooring lines 5 is desirable for a number of
reasons. The fairlead 1 of the present invention provides a convenient platform
for this monitoring. As illustrated in FIGS. 2a-2c and FIG. 4, a pair of load
sensors 120, 122 is mounted on opposite sides of each tension link 194 of the
chain latch assembly 90. These load sensory 120, 122 are more clearly
represented in FIG. 8, which is a detail view of the load sensors 120, 122 shown
in FIG. 4.
[062] As indicated in FIG. 8, each load sensor 120, 122 comprises a pair
of upper and lower brackets 130, 131 with a gap 132 placed between them. A
force sensing bolt or stud 136 is threaded between the brackets 130. An electrical
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link 180 supplies any necessary power to the force sensing bolt or stud 136 and
carries any signal produced by the bolt or stud 136 off to a monitoring unit (not
shown) A suitable bolt or stud 136 for the tension links 194 is a force sensing
bolt 136 available from Strainsert Company (among others) located at
www.strainsert.com. and 12 Union Hill Road, West Conshohocken, PA 19428.
Because each tension link 194 is equipped with force sensing bolts 136, one or
more bolts 136 could be replaced by a remote operated vehicle ('ROV") in the
event of bolt sensor failure without removing the chain.
[063] In an alternative embodiment, as depicted in FIGS. 9a and 9b,
which are respectively, side elevation and plan views of the fairlead 1 of the
present invention each tension link 194 has an upper segment 194a and a lower
segment 194b joined together via a load pin 400. As indicated in FIGS. 9a and
9b, in one embodiment, each upper segment 194a extends from the horizontal
sheave axle 80 to a male end 402 having a hole that is transverse to the
longitudinal length of the upper segment 194a and adapted to receive the load pin
400. Each lower segment 194b extends from the latch head 192 to a female end
404 adapted to receive the corresponding male end 402 and having a hole that is
transverse to the longitudinal length of the lower segment 192b and adapted to
receive the load pin 400.
[064] Like the bolts 136 depicted in FIGS. 4 and 8, the load pins 400 are
strain gage equipped and serve as a mechanism for monitoring tension in the
tension links 194. Unlike the bolts 136, which measure tension forces, the load
pins 400 measure shear presses that are then utilized to calculate the tension in
the chain 5.
Alternative Configurations
[065] As indicated in FIGS. 1-4, in one embodiment the fair lead 1 is
configured such that its counterweights 197 displace along the exterior sides of
the side frame plates 64, 65 of the fairlead frame 60. In one embodiment, as
shown in FIGS. 9a and 9b, the fairlead 1 is configured such that its
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counterweighs 197 displace between the interior sides of the side frame plates 64,
65 of the fairlead frame 60.
[066] As indicated in FIGS. 1-4 in one embodiment, the fairlead 1 is
configured such that its frame 60 is pivotally coupled between an upper
foundation bracket 50 and a lower foundation bracket 52. In another
embodiment the fairlead 1 is a trunnion mounted fairlead 1 as shown in FIGS.
10a and 10b which are, respectively, a side elevation view and a front elevation
view of the fairlead 1. As illustrated in FIGS. 10a and 10b the fairlead 1 is
configured such that its frame 60 is coupled to a pivot pin 300, and the pivot pin
300 extends down from upper and lower foundation brackets 50, 52, which are
coupled to the hull structure 4. Thus, unlike the fairlead 1 depicted in FIGS. 1-4,
the fairlead 1 depicted in FIGS. 10a and 10b is pivotally mounted below the hull
points of connection (i.e., foundation brackets 50, 52).
Operation
[067] During initial installation of the mooring chain 5 the chain latch
assembly 90 with its latch head 192 may be held in the released position (as
shown in FIG. 2c) by a tag line 110 connected to a small winch on the vessel
deck. A messenger line in used to feed the chain 5 up from the anchor 6, through
the chain sheave 70, and to the tensioning device (e.g.. hauling equipment 7). The
tensioning device 7 is then used to increase the tension in the chain 5. This
operation varies somewhat depending on the vessel and its owner's requirements.
[068] Once tension begins increasing in the chain 5, the tagline 110 is
relaxed and the counterweights 197 cause the chain latch assembly 90 to pivot
into the ratchet position shown in FIG. 2b. This causes the latch bead 192 to
come into contact with the chain 5 and to ride along (ratchet against) the links of
the chain 5 as the chain 5 is in-hauled. As illustrated in FIGS. 5a-6c, when the
chain 5 is in-hauled, the shape of the latches 193 causes the chain links to ride up
and over the latches 193 without engaging. As can be seen in FIG. 2b when the
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chain 5 is being in-hauled, the chain's line of action is essentially tangential to the
circumference of the chain sheave 70.
[069] Once the proper chain tension is reached, the tensioning device 7
begins paying out the chain 5. As she chain 5 is paid out, the engaging hook, latch
or latch 193 of latch head 192 engages the nearest chain link that is parallel to the
link platforms 152, 153 shown in FIGS. 5a-Sc. The engagement between the
chain 5 and the latch head 192 is brought about by the shape of the latches 193
and the bias force urging the latch head 192 against the chain 5. Engagement
prevents further chain payout. The in-haul forces from the tensioning device 7
may be released, so that the chain tension is then transferred from the chain
sheave 70 to the tension link 194 and into the horizontal sheave axle 80. As the
tensioning device 7 continues to payout the tension in the chain 5 causes the
chain latch assembly 90 to pivot until its tension link 194 is in line with, and part
of, a line of action running from the anchor 6, through the chain 5 and tension link
194 and into the horizontal sheave axle 80 supported by the fairlead frame 60
(see position assumed by the chain latch assembly 90 in FIG. 2a). Thus, the
anchor chain's line of action has shifted from being essentially tangential to the
circumference of the chain sheave 70 during the in-haul process (see FIG. 2b) to
being essentially in-line with the axis of the axle 80 when the latch head 192 has
fully engaged the chain 5 and the chain's tension load has been assumed by the
tension link 194 (see FIG. 2a).
[070] If it is desired to release the chain 5, the hauling equipment 7 on
the deck must be engaged to in-haul the chain 5. Once the tension in the chain 5
is largely transferred from the tension link 194 to the chain sheave 70, the tag line
110 can pull on the counterweights 197 to pivot the chain latch assembly 90 from
the engagement position (FIG. 2a) to the released position (FIG. 2c), thereby
causing the latch head 192 to move away from chain 5. The chain can then be
paid out without the latch head 192 engaging the chain 5.
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[071] Although the present invention has been described with reference
to preferred embodiments persons skilled in the art will recognize that changes
may be made in form and detail without departing from the spirit and scope of the
invention.
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CLAIMS
We claim:
1. A fairlead for guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure, the
fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally mounted to the offshore structure;
a chain sheave mounted for rotation on a sheave axle supported by the fairlead frame
and
a chain latch assembly pivotally depending from the fairlead frame said chain latch
assembly comprising a latch head for engaging the chain, wherein said latch head engages the
chain only when said latch head is biased against the chain and the chain is traveling in the
payout direction.
2. The fairlead of claim 1 wherein the chain latch assembly pivotally depends from the
fairlead frame by being mourned for rotation on the sheave axle.
3. The fairlead of claim 1, further comprising a pivot point on the fairlead frame and by
which the chain latch assembly pivotally depends from the fairlead frame.
4. The fairlead of claim 1, further comprising a biasing mechanism adapted to bias said
latch head against the chain.
5. The fairlead of claim 4, wherein the biasing mechanism is a counter weight,
6. The fairlead of claim 4, further comprising a disengagement mechanism adapted to
counteract the biasing mechanism and cause the latch head to move away from the chain.
7. The fairlead of claim 6 wherein the disengagement mechanism is a tag line operably
connected on a first end to a winch and on a second end to the chain latch assembly.
8. A fairlead for guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and
an anchor the fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally coupled to the offshore structure about a generally vertical
axis and comprising a generally horizontal axis and

a pivoting latch operably coupled to the fairlead frame and adapted to pivot about said
horizontal axis said pivoting latch comprising a chain latch and a counterweight for urging
the chain latch into engagement with the chain said chain latch configured to engage the
chain only when the chain is traveling in the payout direction.
9. The fairlead of 8 wherein the fairlead frame further comprises a chain sheave
pivotable about said horizontal axis.
10. The fairlead of claim 8 wherein the fairlead frame further comprises a chain sheave
operably coupled to the fairlead frame and adapted to pivot about a second generally
horizontal axis.
11. The fairlead of claim 8 wherein said chain latch comprises a hook adapted to grasp a
link of the chain.
12. The fairlead of claim 8, further comprising an actuator for countering the action of the
counterweight and causing the chain latch to move away from the chain.
13. The fairlead of claim 12 wherein said actuator comprises a tag line operably coupled
to a which on a first end and operably coupled to the counterweight on a second end.
14. A fairlead for guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and
an anchor, the fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally mounted to the offshore structure, wherein said fairlead
frame supports an axle for rotatably supporting it chain sheave; and
a pivoting latch mounted and supported on the fairlead frame to pivot in a plane
generally perpendicular to the axle supporting the chain sheave said pivoting latch
comprising a chain latch and a counterweight for urging the chain latch into engagement with
the chain.
15. The fairlead of claim 14, wherein the pivoting latch is mounted and supported on the
same axle as the axle for rotatably supporting the chain sheave.
18

16. The fairlead of claim 14 further comprising an actuator adapted to counter the action
of the counterweight and cause the chain latch to move away from the chain.
17. The fairlead of claim 16, wherein the actuator is a tag line adapted to lift the counter
weight against gravity.
18. The fairlead of claim 14, further comprising a sensor for measuring tension in the
anchor chain when engaged by the chain latch.
19. The fairlead of claim 18, wherein the pivoting latch further comprises a tension link
extending from the fairlead frame to the chain latch, and the sensor is a strain gauge mourned
on said tension link.
20. The fairlead of claim 19 wherein the strain gauge comprises at least one bolt, stud, or
similar device in which tension is measured
21. The fairlead of claim 14, wherein said fairlead frame comprises first and second frame
plates between which the sheave axle is rotatably supported.
22. A method for guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and
an anchor, the method comprising:
providing a chain sheave rotatably mounted on an axle supported by a fairlead frame
pivotably coupled to the offshore structure;
in hauling the anchor chain about the chain sheave so the anchor chain's line of action
is essentially tangential to the circumference of the chain sheave; and
changing the anchor chain's line of action to be essentially in-line with the axis of the
axle.
23. The method of claims 22, further comprising biasing a chain latch pivotally against the
chain.
24. The method of claim 23. wherein the chain latch pivotally depends from the axle.
19

25. The method of claim 23 further comprising paying out the chain when the chain latch
is biased against the chain.
26. The method of claim 25, further comprising engaging the chain with the chain latch
and transferring chain tension forces from the sheave to the chain latch.
27. The method of claim 26, wherein the chain tension forces are transferred into the axle
from the chain latch.
28. A fairlead for guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure, the
fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally mounted to the offshore structure,
a first structure coupled to the fairlead frame and adapted to cause a line of action of
the chain, when the chain is being paid out or in-hauled, to bend about, and be generally
tangential with a radius having a center point; and
a second structure adapted to change the line of action to one that is generally inline
with the center point.
29. The fairlead of claim 28 farther comprising an apparatus adapted to bias a portion of
the second structure against the chain.
30. The fairlead of claim 29, wherein the portion of the second structure is adapted to
catch the chain when the chain is being paid out.
31 The fairlead of claim 28, wherein the second structure is pivotable about the center
point.
32. A fairlead for guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure, the
fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally mounted to the offshore structure;
first means for causing a line of action of the chain, when the chain is being paid out
or in-hauled, to bend about and be generally tangential with, a radius having a center point,
wherein said first means is coupled to the fairlead frame; and
20

second means for changing the line of action to one that is generally inline with the
center point.
33. The fairlead of claim 32. further comprising means for biasing a portion of the second
means against the chain.
34. The fairlead of claim 33. wherein the portion of the second means is a means for
catching the chain when the chain is being paid out.
35. A fairlead for guiding and securing a chain used for mooring an offshore structure the
fairlead comprising:
a fairlead frame pivotally mounted to the offshore structure;
a first structure coupled to the fairlead frame and adapted to cause a line of action of
the chain, when the chain is being paid out or in-hauled, to bend about, and be generally
tangential with, a radius having a center point; and
a second structure pivotally depending from the fairlead frame adapted to engage the
chain, and having a sensor for reading a tension force in the chain.
36. The fairlead of claim 35, wherein the first structure is a wildcat mounted for rotation
on an axle supported by the fairlead frame, the axle being centered on the center point.
37. The fairlead of claim 36, wherein the second structure is pivotally mounted on the
axle.
38. The fairlead of claim 35, wherein the second structure is adapted to change the line of
action to one that is generally inline with the center point.
39. The fairlead of claim 35. wherein the sensor is a strain gage equipped bolt having a
longitudinal axis that is generally parallel to a longitudinal axis of the second structure.
40. The fairlead of claim 35. wherein the sensor is a strain gage equipped load pin having
a longitudinal as is that is generally perpendicular to a longitudinal axis of the second
structure.


The present invention is a fairlead for guiding and securing an anchor chain between an offshore structure and an anchor. The fairlead comprises a fairlead frame, a pivoting latch. and an acmator. The fairlead frame is pivotally mounted to the offshore structure and supports an axle for a chain sheave. The pivoting tatch is mounted to pivot on the axle and comprises a tension link with a chain latch and a counterweight for urging the chain latch into engagement with the chain. The pivoting tatch is configured to engage the chain only when the chain is traveling in the payout direction. The actuator controls the action of the counterweight.

Documents:

00749-kolnp-2006-abstract.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-claims.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-description complete.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-drawings.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-form 1.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-form 2.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-form 3.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-form 5.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-international exm report.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-international publication.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-international search report.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-others.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-pct request.pdf

00749-kolnp-2006-priority document.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-ABSTRACT 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-ABSTRACT 1.2.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-AMANDED CLAIMS 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-AMANDED CLAIMS.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-AMANDED PAGES OF SPECIFICATION.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-CORRESPONDENCE.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-CORRESPONDENCE.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-DESCRIPTION (COMPLETE) 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-DRAWINGS 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-EXAMINATION REPORT REPLY RECIEVED.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-EXAMINATION REPORT.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 1 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 1-1.2.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 18.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 2 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 2-1.2.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 3 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 3.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM 5.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM-27-1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-FORM-27.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-ABSTRACT.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-CLAIMS.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-DESCRIPTION (COMPLETE).pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-DRAWINGS.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-FORM 1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-FORM 2.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-LETTER PATENT.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-GRANTED-SPECIFICATION.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-OTHERS DOCUMENTS 1.1.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-OTHERS.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-PA.1.3.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-PETITION UNDER RULE 137.pdf

749-KOLNP-2006-REPLY TO EXAMINATION REPORT.1.3.pdf

abstract-00749-kolnp-2006.jpg


Patent Number 247950
Indian Patent Application Number 749/KOLNP/2006
PG Journal Number 23/2011
Publication Date 10-Jun-2011
Grant Date 06-Jun-2011
Date of Filing 28-Mar-2006
Name of Patentee HYDRALIFT AMCLYDE, INC.
Applicant Address 240 EAST PLATO BOULEVARD ST. PAUL, MN 55107-1631 U.S.A.
Inventors:
# Inventor's Name Inventor's Address
1 NIEBUR, ALVIN J. 20770 PUTTING AVENUE HASTINGS, MN 55033 U.S.A.
PCT International Classification Number B63B
PCT International Application Number PCT/US2004/031092
PCT International Filing date 2004-09-22
PCT Conventions:
# PCT Application Number Date of Convention Priority Country
1 60/508,615 2003-10-03 U.S.A.
2 10/945,553 2004-09-20 U.S.A.