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1. WO2012064185 - A MARINE TENSIONER

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[ EN ]

C L A I M S

1 . Marine tensioner for handling an elongated article from an offshore vessel, such as laying a pipeline from a marine pipeline installation on board a vessel or for handling an umbilical for underwater equipment from an umbilical handling device on board the vessel, said tensioner being adapted to absorb the load exerted by said elongated article on the tensioner, said tensioner comprising:

- a tensioner frame, e.g. adapted to be supported in a pipelaying installation;

- multiple track units mounted in said frame defining an article passage having a passage axis extending axially, and preferably centrally, through the tensioner frame;

wherein each track unit comprises an elongated chassis, said chassis having end portions at opposed ends thereof as well as a central portion between said end portions,

and wherein each track unit further comprises an endless track supported by said chassis and a track motion control device for effecting controlled motion of the endless track, the endless track having a multitude of friction elements adapted to engage on the elongated article,

and wherein between the chassis of each track unit and the tensioner frame a connecting structure is provided that at least allows for lateral motion of the track unit with respect to the passage axis so as to adapt the position of the track unit,

and wherein for each track unit a group of hydraulic squeeze cylinders is provided between the tensioner frame and the chassis of the track unit,

and wherein a cylinder control mechanism is provided which is associated with said squeeze cylinders and allows to control the squeeze force exerted by the friction elements of the endless track of the track unit on the elongated article,

wherein the tensioner further comprises a tilting mechanism for the group of squeeze cylinders of each track unit,

each hydraulic squeeze cylinder being connected, preferably at its end facing the tensioner frame, to said tilting mechanism,

said tilting mechanism comprising a drive motor distinct from the squeeze cilinders,

and said tilting mechanism being adapted to tilt the hydraulic squeeze cylinders of a track unit between an operative position, wherein the squeeze cylinders are operative to exert a squeeze force in use of the tensioner for handling an elongated article, and an oversized article passage position, wherein - to allow for the passage of an oversized article through the tensioner, without exerting a squeeze force with the track unit, the track unit is moved maximally towards the tensioner frame - the effective dimension of the tilted squeeze cylinders seen in lateral direction is less than with said squeeze cylinders in fully retracted condition in their operative position.

2. Marine tensioner according to claim 1 , wherein the connecting structures are each adapted to - in addition to the lateral motion - allow for a pivotal motion of each track unit so as to obtain a non-parallel orientation of the tracks of the track units with respect to the passage axis.

3. Marine tensioner for handling an elongated article from an offshore vessel, such as laying a pipeline from a marine pipeline installation on board a vessel or for handling an umbilical for underwater equipment from an umbilical handling device on board the vessel, said tensioner being adapted to absorb the load exerted by said elongated article on the tensioner, said tensioner comprising:

- a tensioner frame, e.g. adapted to be supported in a pipelaying installation;

- multiple track units mounted in said frame defining an article passage having a passage axis extending axially, and preferably centrally, through the tensioner frame;

wherein each track unit comprises an elongated chassis, said chassis having end portions at opposed ends thereof as well as a central portion between said end portions,

and wherein each track unit further comprises an endless track supported by said chassis and a track motion control device for effecting controlled motion of the endless track, the endless track having a multitude of friction elements adapted to engage on the elongated article,

and wherein between the chassis of each track unit and the tensioner frame a connecting structure is provided that at least allows for lateral motion of the track unit with respect to the passage axis so as to adapt the position of the track unit,

and wherein for each track unit a group of hydraulic squeeze cylinders is provided between the tensioner frame and the chassis of the track unit,

and wherein a cylinder control mechanism is provided which is associated with said squeeze cylinders and allows to control the squeeze force exerted by the friction elements of the endless track of the track unit on the elongated article,

wherein the connecting structure between the chassis of each track unit and the tensioner frame comprises a chassis lift mechanism for the chassis of each track unit,

wherein said chassis lift mechanism comprises a drive motor distinct from the squeeze cylinders,

and said chassis lift mechanism being adapted to raise the chassis between a lowered and a raised position, thereby cause tilting of the hydraulic squeeze cylinders of a track unit between an operative position in the lowered position of the chassis lift mechanism, wherein the squeeze cylinders are operative to exert a squeeze force in use of the tensioner for handling an elongated article, and an oversized article passage position in the raised position of the chassis lift mechanism, wherein - to allow for the passage of an oversized article through the tensioner, without exerting a squeeze force with the track unit, the track unit is moved maximally towards the tensioner frame - the effective dimension of the tilted squeeze cylinders seen in lateral direction is less than with said squeeze cylinders in fully retracted condition in their operative position.

4. Marine tensioner according to claim 3, wherein the connecting structure comprises a hydraulic cylinder operative as a chassis lift mechanism.

5. Marine tensioner for handling an elongated article from an offshore vessel, such as laying a pipeline from a marine pipeline installation on board a vessel or for handling an umbilical for underwater equipment from an umbilical handling device on board the vessel, preferably the marine tensioner according to on or more of claims 1 -4, said tensioner being adapted to absorb the load exerted by said elongated article on the tensioner, said tensioner comprising:

- a tensioner frame, e.g. adapted to be supported in a pipelaying installation;

- multiple track units mounted in said frame defining an article passage having a passage axis extending axially, and preferably centrally, through the tensioner frame;

wherein each track unit comprises an elongated chassis, said chassis having end portions at opposed ends thereof as well as a central portion between said end portions,

and wherein each track unit further comprises an endless track supported by said chassis and a track motion control device for effecting controlled motion of the endless track, the endless track having a multitude of friction elements adapted to engage on the elongated article,

and wherein between the chassis of each track unit and the tensioner frame a connecting structure is provided that at least allows for lateral motion of the track unit with respect to the passage axis so as to adapt the position of the track unit,

and wherein for each track unit a group of hydraulic squeeze cylinders is provided between the tensioner frame and the chassis of the track unit,

and wherein a cylinder control mechanism is provided which is associated with said squeeze cylinders and allows to control the squeeze force exerted by the friction elements of the endless track of the track unit on the elongated article,

wherein the tensioner frame comprises an annular structure absorbing the squeeze forces of the squeeze cylinders,

the annular structure of the tensioner frame is composed of plate elements interconnected so as to form a single walled annular structure.

6. Marine tensioner according to claim 5, wherein the tensioner frame comprises a top plate and a bottom plate at the axial ends of the tensioner frame, said plates having an opening therein to allow for the passage of the elongated article.