US 3259926 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
July 12, 956 c, OTTERMAN 3,259,926
LIFE SPHERE Filed Jan. 11. 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 1 [kW/Es A. af/erma/z INVENTOR.
Men; on 0. Beefi/er Ivar/1g July 12, 1966 c. E. OTTERMAN 3,259,926
LIFE SPHERE Filed Jan. 11, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 2 INVENTOR.
Verna/2 0. Beak/er il /W047 July 12, 1966 c. E. OTTERMAN 3,259,926
LIFE SPHERE Filed Jan. 11, 1965 5 Sheets-Sheet 5 C/mrles L 0/1erman INVENTOR.
Vernon 0. 888/118! ////0rng United States Patent 3,259,926 LIFE SPHERE Charles E. Otter-man, Arcadia, Calif., assignor to Surrounding Sound, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif. Filed Jan. 11, 1965, Ser. No. 424,780 12 Claims. (Cl. 9-4) The invention relates to life saving equipment and has particular reference to a buoyant passenger carrying vessel of a type capable of replacing conventional life boats. The vessel herein made reference to is one adapted to be mounted in a life boat station completely equipped and ready for launching with all persons aboard.
It is common knowledge that conventional life boats of the type with which virtually all passenger liners and freighters are equipped are woefully inadequate at times when they are most urgently needed. When a ship is listing in a rough sea it is virtually impossible to launch boats from the high side of the ship. Boats launched from the low side of the ship often swamp and capsize in the act of launching. Since conventional life boats are suspended by a block and tackle at each end, life boats are often upended in the act of being launched, one end being lowered faster than the other sufficient to dump passengers into the sea. Even after being successfully launched hazards still continue when waves smash life boats against the ship or against each other before they can be effectively manned. Moreover unless manned by skilled seamen conventional life boats toss about helplessly in the hands of passengers, who are purely amateurs for the most part in handling equipment of this kind. In rough seas even when entirely clear of a shipwrecked vessel it is often a considerable feat of seamanship to keep heavily loaded life boats headed properly into the sea. Further still because such boats are open boats passengers may suffer considerably from exposure to the elements when they have to survive for days before being picked up by rescue vessels. When a surviving life boat is ultimately reached by a rescue vessel it is extremely difficult to retrieve it in a cal-m sea and in a storm retrieval often becomes a practical impossibility. Consequently in order to rescue the occupants they must be taken out one at a time under hazardous circumstances. Life boats are easily lost from view in a rough sea and are not easily detected on a radar scope. They drift apart after launching and sometimes some of them are not found at all even though they remain afloat. Toilet facilities are not generally provided and where they are no privacy is offered. Despite the inadequacy of life boats the space required aboard to keep them in readiness is enormous. Substitute equipment such as rafts and inflatable devices on most occasions are entirely inadequate, especially in the colder parts of the ocean.
It is therefore among the objects of the invention to provide a new and improved vessel to entirely replace the conventional life boat.
Another object of the invention is to provide a new and improved life saving vessel which has a completely protected personnel chamber capable of accommodating a relatively large number of people in comfort and safety.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a new and improved life saving vessel which can be completely loaded with personnel, food, water, fuel, and other neces-' sary facilities, then entirely closed except for a protected ventilating apparatus and subsequently lifted from the deck and launched in the ocean by employment of a single block and tackle.
Still another object of the invention is to provide a new and improved life saving vessel which cannot be swamped by wave action, which is unsinkable even when filled with water, which cannot be capsized, and which Patented July 12, 1966 metric design as to be capable of successfully withstanding pounding against the ships hull and against other object-s and which can be easily retrieved by a rescue vessel or helicopter with all occupants remaining inside.
Further included among the objects of the invention is to provide a new and improved life saving vessel of such geometric design that all vessels launched at one time will tend to drift together with the sea without resort to any voluntary steering action and which includes accessories such as radio, radar reflectors, comfort equipment, motor power, and survival equipment permanently and safely housed in a protected space Where all is kept warm, dry, and protected from the elements as long as the vessel needs to remain in the sea.
With these and other objects in view, the invention consists in the construction, arrangement, and combination of the various parts of the device, whereby the objects contemplated are attained, as hereinafter set forth, pointed out in the appended claims and illustrated in the accompanying drawings.
FIGURE 1 is a side elevational viewof one form of the invention in condition ready for launching.
FIGURE 2 is a plan view partially broken away of the device of FIGURE 1.
FIGURE 3 is a longitudinal sectional view taken on the line 3-3 of FIGURE 2.
FIGURE 4 is a side perspective view of a second form of the invention.
FIGURE 5 is a longitudinal sectional view of another form of the invention.
FIGURE 6 is a bottom view of the form of invention of FIGURE 5.
In one form of the invention chosen for the purpose of illustration there is shown a life saving vessel indicated generally by the reference character 10 which may aptly be described as a vessel having a hull configuration of an oblate spheroid. The term hull as used herein has reference to the entire body of the vessel and consists of a top portion indicated generally by the reference character 11 lying above a m-idship stabilizer vane 12 and a bottom portion 13 lying below the vane. At the lowermost part of the bottom portion is a lower or subsurface stabilizer 14. For ease in description it will be understood that the midship stabilizer vane 12 extends perimetrally about the vessel at substantially the horizontal axis 15 and that the vertical axis 16 is norm-a1 to the geometric center of the midshipstabilizer vane. The lower or subsurface stabilizer may be defined as having the form and shape of a relatively hollow truncated pyramid as appears to good advantage in FIGURES 3 and 4.
The purpose of the subsurface stabilizer is to stop the vessel from rolling. In wave action this stabilizer oifers enough drag to keep the vessel from surfing on the waves. The midship stabilizer may double as a hand rail for swimmers to grab and also acts as a bumper rail to absorb shock when the vessel strikes any foreign object, including any pounding action on launching.
The bottom portion 13 rests upon what may be described as a supporting rim 17 which comprises the bottom edge of the subsurface stabilizer. A wall 18 of the subsurface stabilizer has its upper annular edge 19 fastened to the adjacent exterior of the bottom portion 13 by some appropriate means. Slots 26 may be provided to break the vacuum occurring when the vessel is lifted clear of the water upon retrieval. Within the bottom portion 13 is an interior floor 20 which defines the bottom of a passenger or personnel chamber 21.
The top portion 11 consists in part of a band 22 which forms a permanent portion of the hull. A hatch cover 23 is m-ovably attached to the band 22 by a hinge 24 on one side and is designed to be fastened in place on the opposite side by a latch 25 which may be so constructed as to be capable of latching and unlatching on either the exterior or the interior following substantially conventional designs of the type currently used on aircraft.
An effective material for the vessel has been found to be fiberglass fabric reinforced synthetic plastic resinous material commonly termed fiberglass of the type currently used for the construction of modern .boat hulls both large and small. The bottom portion 13 and all portions below the water line are preferably of substantially opaque material. Conversely a large portion if not all of the band 22 is made of clear but tinted plastic material allowing 360 degree visibility to passengers. The hatch 23 may preferably be constructed of a more deeply tinted or even opaque material as a protection against the sun. These last described parts of the top portion provide a complete safety factor plus affording ample comfort for the occupants. In addition to protection by providing adequate visibility the transparent band gives the occupants much needed confidence under adverse circumstances and tends to relieve them from a natural feeling of claustrophobia.
In the embodiment of FIGURES l, 2, and 3 there is provided a substantially annular inwardly facing seating beach 30 having a back rest 31 positioned against the inside face of the bottom portion 13. An annular leg structure 32 supports the front edge of the seating bench 30 and provides a flotation chamber 33 inside which may be filled with polystyrene foam.
Concentric with respect to the seating bench 30 is a substantially annular outwardly facing seating bench 40 having a back rest 41 and a leg structure 42. The seating bench 49 and leg structure 42 provide a storage space 43 to which access is had through openings 44.
A semi-cylindrical wall 47 against which the back rest 41 is positioned together with wall extensions 48 and 49 on opposite Sides provides a comfort enclosure 50. The comfort enclosure is covered on the top by a ceiling 51 and is closed on one side by an accordion door 52. A toilet seat 53 and a chamber 54 of substantially conventional construction maybe provided and may consist either of a chemical type toilet or may consist of a conventional pump operated head suggested by the pipe system 55.
A compartment 56 below the interior floor 20 may serve as storage space wherein fuel may be stored in plastic sacks 57, the balance of the space being filled with polystyrene foam.
Attention is directed especially to the geometric rigidity inherent in an oblate spheroid hull of the type herein disclosed which is further reinforced in critical areas by the stabilizer construction around the midship portion. The midship stabilizer vane 12 can be made of relatively thick material thereby to serve as a reinforcing and stiffening flange, the vane being securely fastened by a plastic weldment or other appropriate attachment means to the exterior of the hull. The upper edge 19 of the frusto-conical wall 18, attached to the bottom portion about half way between the vane 12 and the lower center, further reinforces the bottom portion. The interior floor 20 serves a multiple purpose. In addition to acting as the floor and enclosing the compartment 56 it serves further as a structural reinforcing agency or stiffener in compression. This effect is further enhanced by bringing the leg structure 32 down to or close to the junction of the perimeter of the floor 20 and the upper edge 19. The back rest 31 acts further as a stiffening and reinforcing agent when fastened by plastic weldment or other means at top and bottom edges to the interior surface of the hull.
Although various locations may be suited to a mounting of an engine 65, as for example within the area of the comfort enclosure 50 or below the interior floor 20 an advantageous location is provided below the seating bench 30 on one side where the engine is shown supported by an engine deck 66 and bed structure 67. An engine hatch cover 68 may be employed to close off an engine compartment 69 to isolate the engine and itssmell from the personnel chamber. An adequate air intake 70 may be provided for the engine and the engine exhausted through a center exhaust 71 in a propeller 72. The engine may be cooled by seawater through an inlet (not shown) extending through the hull. As shown in the drawing a typical outboard drive propeller unit 73 is suggested as one capable of being raised when the vessel is beached,
or, on the other hand, when resting upon the. deck of a ship or any other supporting surface. The outboard propeller may be rotatably mounted following conventional practice for steering, or a rudder 74 may be used.
An additional factor in the effectiveness of the vessel the vertical axis 16 at the top of the hatch cover 23,
where the hatch cover is located at the topmost position i as shown in FIGURES 1, 2, and 3. The hyperdome may house a radio transmitter for sending distress calls. Also mounted in the hyperdome is one or more snorkel systems exemplified by an air intake snorkel 76 and an air exhaust snorkel 77. the intake snorkel with intake air passages 78, 78, 79, and the branch passage 70 to carry intake air to the lowermost location within the personnel chamber and to the engine compartment 69. The air inlet may be located in the storage chamber 33 under the seating bench 30. An air passage 80 is shown in direct communication with the comfort enclosure 50. The exhaust snorkel 77 is provided with a scoop 81 near the top of the personnel chamber for the exhaust of air having a higher temperature than the intake air.v An appropriate check valve 82 in the exhaust snorkel and a somewhat similar spring supported check valve 83 in the intake snorkel prevent seawater from finding its way into the personnel chamber. Butterfly controls (not shown) may if desired be provided in the snorkels to control the temperature in cold weather thereby to trap more heat inside.
Although it has been suggested that the hyperdome 75 may be employed to house a radio transmitter, the
exterior of the hyperdome and also the exteriorof the top portion 11 of the hull if need be may be constructed by injecting aluminum particles in the resin material during construction to form a bigger and more reliable radar reflector target, although this, if preferred, can be (3011-. fined to the hatch cover 23. 7
Where maximum comfort can be dispensed with a modified version of the vessel as shown in FIGURE 4 is provided. overall structural pattern described in connection with FIGURES l, 2, and 3 is maintained, namely the provision of a hull in the form of an oblate spheroid provided with a midship stabilizer vane 91 and a subsurface stabii lizer 92. A transparent band 93 extends throughout 360 degrees of the hull above the midship stabilizer vane 91 and a hatch cover 94 surmounts the band 93. Herev again a hyperdome 95 serves the same purpose as the hyperi dome 75. In the last instance alifting harness (not shown) may be provided on the vane 12 by means of which the hull can be lifted by an appropriate block and tackle for launching and retrieving. The same lifting means may be provided in the form of inventionin FIG- URES l, 2, and 3.
In the embodiment of the invention of FIGURE 4 there is shown an inwardly facing seating bench substantially annular in shape having a substantially annular back rest 101 and a substantially annular leg structure 102. Floatation space 93 is similarly provided beneath the bench. In the last instance a concentric inwardly fac- It is found advantageous to provide In the last identified form of the invention the i ing seating bench 105, smaller in diameter than the seating bench 100 is made use of. The seating bench 105 is provided with a back rest 106, a front leg structure 107 and a back leg structure 108 forming a storage space 109 to which access is had by means of openings 110. A relatively large leg space 111 is provided inwardly relative to the seating bench 105. An annular leg space 112 accommodates passengers on the seating bench 100.
A floor 115 lies below both seating benches and serves in the last instance also as a compression member and stiffening agent for the interior of the hull. Greater rigidity is enjoyed when the seating bench 105 and its associated leg structures are completely annular but adequate strength may be present when a pass through (not shown) is made between the leg space 111 and the leg space 112. This is especially advantageous where a portion of one or another of the seating benches is made use of as a toilet facility. A device like that of FIGURE 4 enjoys substantially all of the safety features and structural advantages of the device of FIGURES 1, 2, and 3 and is perfectly adequate for vessels of relatively small size, for life spheres used on freighters and under circumstances where a maximum degree of comfort can be dispensed with.
Although an engine is suggested as an accessory the engine is primarily helpful in bringing the vessel alongside of a rescue ship or for beaching or docking. In the open sea there is little advantage in an engine in a vessel of the type here under consideration. There is no need to head the vessel in any particular direction because of its oblate spheroid shape. Life boats in any event ordinarily drift about many hundreds or thousands of miles out in the open sea until picked up by rescue ships, hence the small need for propulsion. In the construction of vessels of the shape here under consideration the symmetrical shape is advantageous in that all vessels after being launched from a shipwrecked ship will tend to drift uniformly in the same direction and at the same speed as determined by the condition of the sea. Hence the vessels will tend to drift together in the sea as a group rather than being separated from each other and this in itself is a markedly added safety factor in that a group of such vessels can be much more easily located by a rescue mission than when individually separated. Drifting as a group poses no hazards due to bumping or smashing together of the individual vessels. In the first instance the tendency to drift together is minimized. On such occasions as where there is some drifting together the midship stabilizer vanes serve as effective fenders and bumpers.
Further still should occasion arise when a lone passenger might need to be rescued from the sea the stabilizer vane serves not only as a handle but also as a foot hold when climbing from the sea into the vessel when the hatch cover 23 is open.
Although the air passages 78, 78, 79, and 80 are suggested as continuous conduits leading from the intake snorkel 76, it will be understood that the snorkel can be made with a separable joint 85 to telescope over the air passages as a group or the air passages as a group may be permanently joined to the snorkel and the inlet end of the snorkel merely located so as to coincide with an appropriate complementary opening 120 in the wall of the hyperdome 75 in the case of FIGURES 1, 2, and 3 or a similar opening 121 in the hyperdorne 95 of FIG- URE 4.
In the form of invention of FIGURES 5 and 6 there is provided a hull indicated generally by the reference character 25 having a midship stabilizer vane 126 which divides the hull 125 into a top portion 127 and a bottom portion 128. In this form subsurface stabilization is provided by employment of four stabilizer sections 129, 130, 131, and 132. It has been found and for some uses the subsurface stabilization does not always need a complete annularly disposed subsurface stabilizer and that suflicient stabilization can be accomplished by the sections suggested by way of example in FIGURES 5 and 6. This has a further advantage that when the hall is lifted from the water there is no vacuum effect which needs to be broken just prior to the hull being lifted clear of' the water surface.
An inwardly facing seat bench 133, substantially semiannular in shape is provided with a back rest 134 and a leg section 135. Beneath the seat bench is a storage chamber 136 to which access is had through openings 137.
A substantially semi-annular outwardly facing seat bench 138 is provided with a back rest 139 and inner and outer leg structures 140 and 141 respectively. To imporve the buoyancy a mass 142 of polystyrene foam may be packed in a space 143 beneath the seat bench 138.
On one side of the hull is a comfort enclosure 143 formed in part by an end wall 144, a ceiling 145, and side walls like a side wall 146 visible in FIGURE 5. In each side wall like the side wall 146 is a door 147 so that the comfort enclosure may be entered from either side. A toilet seat 148 is located on a portion of the seat bench 138 which extends into the comfort enclosure and is accommodated by a chamber 149.
A floor 150 extending across the entire interior of a personnel chamber 151 provides a compartment 152 in which is located an engine 153 and a fuel tank 154. A propeller housing 155 extends substantially horizontally outwardly through the bottom portion 128 of the hull 125, at the outer end of which is a propeller 156. It is of moment to note that the propeller rotates at a location above bottom edges 157 of the stabilizer sections.
In this form of invention the top portion 127 is in a sense sectional and consists of a roof 160 which is supported by four panels like the panel 161, the panel 161 being tinted transparent plastic material and the roof 160 being relatively opaque as a protection against the sun. Four hatch covers like the hatch covers 162 and 163 are provided. These hatch covers are in conformance with the contour of the top portion 127 between the roof 160 and the midship stabilizer vane 126. Hinges 164 are provided at the top and an insideoutside latch 165 is provided at the bottom. Edges of the hatch covers are effectively sealed with water tight seals (not shown).
A hyperdome is provided mounted at the top of the roof or canopy 160, in which is located an exhaust snorkel 171 and an intake snorkel 172. Conduit 173, and extension 174 from the intake snorkel extend downwardly along the end wall 144. An outlet 175 from the conduit provides air for the comfort enclosure 146 and another outlet 176 provides air for the personnel chamber 151. It will be understood of course that this is by way of example in that to supply sufiicient air for the personnel chamber 151 a number of conduits like the conduit 173 may be found preferable. The extension 174 has an outlet 177 in the compartment 152 in order to supply air for combustion in the engine 153. A seawater cooling line for the engine (not shown) may be provided extending through the lower portion of the hull. A lifting eye 178 is located at the top of the hyperdome 170. When some steerage way is needed there may be provided a rudder 179 having an opening 180 to accommodate the propeller 156, the rudder being attached to a rudder shaft 181 rotatably mounted in the bottom portion 128 of the hull and the floor 150, there being provided a tiller 182 capable of manipulation by a passenger or a crew member seated upon the seat bench 133.
While the invention has herein been shown and described in what is conceived to be the most practical and preferred embodiment, it is recognized that departures may be made therefrom within the scope of the invention, which is not to be limited to the details disclosed herein but is to be accorded the full scope of the claims so as to embrace any and all equivalent devices.
Having described the invention, what is claimed as new in support of Letters Patent is:
1. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel comprising a relatively thin walled hollow substantially oblate spheroidal body forming a personnel chamber and having a horizontal axis and a vertical axis, said body comprising a top section above said horizontal axis and a bottom section below said horizontal axis, a substantially perimetral sabilizer structure extending around the exterior of the body in a plane intermediate said top and bottom sections, and a subsurface stabilizer structure comprising a substantially annular projection projecting outwardly from the lower part of said bottom section, a substantially arcuate inwardly facing seating bench in the chamber extending around the inside face of said bottom section, a substantially arcuate outwardly facing seating bench concentric with and spaced radially inwardly from said inwardly facing seating bench, a wall around the inner side of said outwardly facing seating bench in part forming a comfort enclosure and a passageway to said enclosure extending through said outwardly facing seating bench, said top section having a hatch centrally located at the upper portion and a removable hatch cover therefor, a dome structure on said hatch cover extending upwardly therefrom, air intake and air outlet passage means in said dome structure extending between said personnel chamber and the exterior, intake air conduit means extending from the air intake passage means to a location adjacent said seating benches, and removable connection means between said intake passage means and said intake air conduit means, said connection means being in connected postion when said hatch cover is closed, at least a part of said top section at a location above said seating benches being transparent.
2. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel comprising a relatively thin walled hollow substantially oblate spheroidal body forming a personnel chamber and having a horizontal axis and a vertical axis, a midship,
perimetral stabilizer vane extending around the exterior of the body in a plane adjacent the horizontal axis, said body comprising a top section above said horizontal axis and a bottom section below said horizontal axis, a sub-, surface stabilizer comprising a substantially annular vane projecting outwardly from the lower part of said bottom section, a substantially annular inwardly facing seating bench in the chamber extending around the inside face of said bottom section, a substantially annular outwardly facing seating bench concentric with and spaced inwardly from said inwardly facing seating bench, a wallaround the inner side of said outwardly facing seating bench forming part of a comfort enclosure and a passageway to said enclosure extending through said outwardly facing seating bench, said top section having a centrally located hatch at the upper portion and a removable hatch cover therefor, and air intake and air outlet passage means through said hatch cover between said personnel chamber and the exterior, at least a part of said top section at a location above said seating benches being transparent.
3. A buoyant life saving vessel comprising a body which is substantially circular in plan and which is oval shaped in vertical cross section, said body having a bottom sectionbelow its horizontal axis, a sub-surface sta-.
bilizer structure on the body in the form of arcuate stabilizer means extending outwardly from the lower part of the hull of the body in a direction between the horizontal and vertical, seating means for passengers within the body and spaced from the vertical axis of the body and air inlet and exhaust means at the upper part of the body communicating with spaces within the body; j
4. A vessel as in claim 3 wherein said stabilizing means is in the form of a continuous circular member having an axis coincident with the vertical axis of the vessel and secured to the lower part of the hull of the body.
5. A buoyant life saving vessel as in claim 3 wherein;
said stabilizing means comprises members in the form of arcuate sections having a center coincident with the vertical center line of the body, spaced from each other and secured to the lower part of the hull of the body.
6. A buoyant life saving vessel as in claim 3 wherein the outermost edges of said stabilizing means'are located at a level at least as far below the horizontal axis of the body as the lowermost part of the bottom section of the said body.
7. A buoyant life saving vessel as in claim 4 wherein the said stabilizing means is in the form of a truncated cone and providing surfaces extending outwardly from the lower part of the hull of the body substantially midway between the vertical and the horizontal.
8. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel as in claim 3, including first and second circularly arranged seating facilities and means in the body forming a comfort enclosure and a passageway leading thereto.
9. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel as in claim 3 wherein the vessel has a top section including a hatch coverhaving a center coincident with the vertical axis of the body, said air inlet and exhaust means being located in the center part of said hatch cover.
10. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel as in claim 3 wherein the hull of said body has an upper section which is normally above the water line and includ-. ing a portion comprising a band of transparent material.
11. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel as in claim 3 including an engine compartment formed therein having an engine therein, said engine having a propeller shaft extending through the hull of the body and carrying a propeller thereon,
12. A buoyant passenger carrying life saving vessel as in claim 3 wherein said stabilizing means comprises pro- 1 jecting means encompassing a part of said bottom sec tion and fastened thereto in an outwardly projecting position, and a perimetral reinforcement vane extending around the exterior of the body at about the plane of g the horizontal axis.
References Cited by the Examiner FERGUS S. MIDDLETON, Primary Examiner.
ANDREW H. FARRELL, Examiner.