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Publication numberUS3369368 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateFeb 20, 1968
Filing dateMay 11, 1967
Priority dateMay 11, 1967
Publication numberUS 3369368 A, US 3369368A, US-A-3369368, US3369368 A, US3369368A
InventorsWilson Hugh D
Original AssigneeUnion Carbide Corp
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Diving structure
US 3369368 A
Abstract  available in
Previous page
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Claims  available in
Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

H. D. WILSON Feb. 20, 1968 DIVING STRUCTURE 2 Sheets-Sheet 1 Original Filed Feb. 115, 1964 Hug/7 D. Wilson .INVISNTOR.

H. D. WILSON DIVING STRUCTURE Original Filed Feb. 13, 1964 2 Sheets-Sheet 13 Hug/2 0. Wilson l N V [5N T!) R 4 Q m Qkwami United States Patent Oilfice 3,369,368 Patented Feb; 20, 1968 3,369,368 DIVING STRUCTURE Hugh D. Wilson, Goleta, Calif., assignor to Union Carbide Corporation, a corporation of New York Continuation of application Ser. No. 344,680, Feb. 13, 1964. This application May 11, 1967, Ser. No. 637,848 3 Claims. (Cl. 61-69) This application is a continuation of Ser. No. 344,680, filed Feb. 13, 1964, and now abandoned.

The present invention is generally concerned with underwater operations, and is more particularly directed toward a novel diving'structure particularly adapted for use as a base of operation for divers working outside the structure.

A problem arising in connection with various underwater operations, especially in extremely deep water, is the inability of the divers to stay at these depths long enough to complete a job. Accordingly, it is a primary object of the instant invention to provide a diving structure usable as a base of operation directly at the work site. In functioning in this manner, the diving structure is properly oriented in the vicinity of the job to be performed, after which one or more of the divers comprising the crew, after undergoing the necessary compression cycle, leave the structure and commence work while the remainder of the crew stays in the structure at atmospheric pressure so as to supervise the work. After a predetermined time on the job, well within the contemplated safety range, the diver or divers will re-enter the diving structure and remain within the structure at ambient pressure, directly at the work site, until suitably rested and capable of continuing the job if such a continuation is necessary.

In conjunction with the above, the structure is to include at least two separate units, each including separate pressure adjusting and maintaining means, whereby one of the units can be used for entry to and egress from the structure by the diver, while the other unit can be maintained at atmospheric pressure for the remainder of the crew. With such an arrangement, it will be appreciated that, during the above referred to rest period, the crew initially remaining in the structure can undergo a compression cycle and continue on the job, this alternating of work shifts, with the base of operation directly at the work site, greatly expediting completion of the job.

It is another primary object of the instant invention to provide a diving structure capable of attaining extremely great depths, on the order of 1500 feet or more, while retaining a high degree of mobility, the specific shape of the structure being such so as to obtain a high degree of pressure resisting rigidity at a minimum over-all weight so as to facilitate the shipping and storage of the structure.

In achieving the above object, the diving structure of the instant invention is specifically formed with each of the individual units thereof in the shape of a sphere, this spherical shape providing, for a given enclosed area, the maximum resistance to external pressure thereby allowing operations at correspondingly greater water depths.

Also, it is particularly significant that each of the spherical units, interconnected by suitable air lock means, include individual pressure regulating means, thereby, when for example the structure consists of two units, allowing the use of one unit for entry and exit relative to the structure by a diver, while retaining the other unit at atmospheric pressure for use as an observation position. When it becomes desirable to alternate the work and observation shift, the observation shift can, in the observation unit, commence a compression cycle, while the work shift, in the entry and exit unit, undergoes a decompression cycle. Upon the compression cycle and decompression cycle reaching an equal point, the occupants of the two spherical units can change places and continue in their separate cycles until the desired pressures are obtained.

Furthermore, it is an object of the instant invention to provide a novel ballast tank arrangement, this arrangement consisting of a plurality of spherical ballast tanks spaced peripherally about the structure between the individual spherical units comprising the actual body enclosing chambers.

Likewise, it is an object of the instant invention to incorporate vertically adjustable downwardly diverging support legs, each terminating in a spherical foot so as to closely conform to ocean bed irregularities. In conjunction with these legs and feet, it is also contemplated that novel pressurized fluid means be provided for providing a jetlike discharge at the bottom of each foot so as to assist in dislodging the feet from, for example, mud.

In addition to providing for a raising of the diving structure through the dispelling of the ballast from the ballast tanks, the instant invention also contemplates the provision of both a support cable and a releasable weight about the structure itself.

Furthermore, the instant invention contemplates the provision of an arm fixed to the structure and projecting laterally therefrom for support of the incoming supply lines, this arm, with the lines thereon, acting somewhat in the manner of a rudder so as to assist in overcoming any tendency for the diving structure to spin about its vertical axis while ascending or descending.

These together with other objects and advantages which will become subsequently apparent reside in the details of construction and operation as more fully hereinafter described and claimed, reference being had to the accompanying drawings forming a part hereof, wherein like numerals refer to like parts throughout, and in which:

FIGURE 1 is a perspective view of the diving structure of the instant invention illustrated in position adjacent a work site in this instant an underwater well head;

FIGURE 2 is an enlarged partial perspective view of the diving structure with portions broken away and removed for purposes of clarification;

FIGURE 3 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view illustrating one manner of supporting and releasing the diving structure weight; and

FIGURE 4 is an enlarged partial cross-sectional view illustrating one manner of dispelling the ballast from the ballast tanks.

Referring now more specifically to the drawings, reference numeral 10 is used to generally designate the structure comprising the instant invention. While this structure 161 has been specifically illustrated as consisting basically of an upper sphere or spherical unit 12 and a lower sphere or spherical unit 14, and will be so described in the following detailed description, it should be appreciated at the outset that, if so desired, the diving structure 10 can include one or more additional spheres or spherical units, as is indicated by the phantom lines in FIGURE 1, these additional spheres being interrelated in any desired position to the two primary spheres 12 and 14 in the same manner as shall presently be described in relation to the interconnection of the basic spheres 12 and 14.

The spherical shape of each of the units 12 and 14 is deemed particularly significant as a means for providing a structure which can resist a maximum amount of pressure while simultaneously providing a maximum amount of interior space in conjunction with a relatively light overall weight.

While the instant invention also contemplates a horizontal arrangement of the spheres 12 and 14', they will generally be arranged vertically. as shown in the drawings.

one over the other, with a hatchway 16 connecting the spheres 12 and 14 and communicating the interiors thereof. This hatchway includes two hatches 18, one at each end thereof, the hatches 18 being of a conventional air lock type. In addition, each of the spheres 12 and 14 is provided with hatchways 20 and 22 communicating the interiors of the spheres 12 and 14 with the exterior for entry into and egress from the individual units. The hatchway 20 on the upper sphere 12 is generally located to one side of the extreme top of the sphere 12, as illustrated in FIGURE 1, in order that the support cable 24 might be attached in alignment with the vertical center line of the structure 10, however, it is also contemplated that the hatchway 20 be orientated at the extreme top of the sphere 12 with the support cable 24 attached at two diametrically opposed sides of the hatchway 20. This hatchway 20, as was the case with the hatchway 16, also includes two air lock type hatches 26. The hatchway 22, communicating the lower sphere 14 with the exterior, is preferably provided at the bottom of the lower sphere 14 and, as was the case with the other two hatchways, includes two conventional air lock type doors or hatches 28. Incidentally, it is contemplated that these hatchways be cylindrical in shape with round hatches utilized in connection therewith. Further, inasmuch as the upper sphere 12, when the structure is floating or supported in the Water adjacent the mother ship, will be about twothirds submerged, a projecting water shield can be provided upwardly about the hatchway so as to exclude water from coming into the sphere 12, especially during rough weather, when the hatches 26 are open.

The support cable 24-, used to lower and raise the structure 10, is to be swivelly connected to the top of the upper sphere 12, this swivel connection being incorporated either in the means for securing the hook receiving eye 30' to the sphere 12, or in the cable hook means 32 itself. This swivel connection allows the structure 10 to rotate about its axis without introducing a corresponding twist within the cable 24. Further, in order to compensate for any up and down movement of the boat on the surface of the water due to wave or tidal actions, a suitable spring, generally indicated by reference numeral 34, is incorporated into the cable 24.

A plurality of spherical pressure vessels or ballast tanks 36 are fixed to the upper sphere 12 and located peripherally about the central hatchway 16 in a manner so as to be positioned generally between the spheres 12 and 14, With the ballast tanks 36 being of a size so as to preferably not project laterally beyond the planes of the sides of the spheres 12 and 14. The ballast tanks 36 are individually connected to the sphere 12 by rigid tubes 38 with similar tubes 40 interconnecting adjacent ones of the ballast tanks 36. These ballast tanks 36 are to be utilized much in the manner of conventional ballast tanks for facilitating the ascent and descent of the structure 10, the ballast, generally water, being selectively discharged from the tanks 36 through the use of pressurized or compressed gas or air. One manner of effecting the introduction of the gas has been illustrated in FTGURES 2. and 4 as consisting of a main supply tube 42 communicated with a supply tank 44 and extending about the sphere 12 with feeder tubes 46 communicating the supply tube 42 with each ballast tank 36 through the mounting tubes 38. Further, for obvious reasons, the filling and emptying of the ballast tanks 36 is to be possible from each of the spheres 12 and 14, any conventional controls for effecting this being used.

In addition to providing for ascension of the structure 10 through both the use of the support cable 24 and the blowing out of the ballast tanks 36, a third manner is by dropping the weight 48. The weight 48, circular in shape so as to be received about the lower portion of the lower sphere 14, includes a beveled inner face 50 for reception flush against the exterior of the lower sphere 14. This weight 48 is releasably mounted in any suitable manner with the release thereof being possible from either of 4 the spheres 12 or 14. While not specifically limited thereto, one manner of mounting and releasing the weight 48 has been illustrated in FIGURE 3. This mounting means consists of a plurality of downwardly opening angle brackets 52 rigidly affixed to the sphere 14 with a retractable lock pin 54 engageable with the bracket 52 in such a manner so as to retain the weight ring 48 therein, the retraction of the pins 54 being effected simultaneously through either mechanical or electrical means.

The structure 10 further includes support legs 56, preferably three in number, rigid with the lower sphere 14, above the weight ring 48, and depending therefrom in diverging relation to each other so as to form in effect a supporting tripod. Each of the legs 56 consists basically of upper and lower hollow sections 58 and 60 with the upper section 58 telescopically receiving the lower section 60-, suitable means such as the lock screw 62, being utilized to fix the relative length of each leg 56 in a plurality of adjusted positions, this adjusting of the leg 56 of course being accomplished before the introduction of the structure 10 into the water. Each leg 56 terminates in a spherical foot 64, this spherical shape being of particular significance in that it enables an accommodation of any surface irregularities which might be encountered. In addition, the spherically shaped foot 64 will tend to embed itself in the ocean floor so as to provide a highly stable base for the structure 10. Suitable braces 65 can also be provided, as need, between the upper tubular portion 58 of each leg and the sphere 14.

Inasmuch as there is a tendency for the spherical feet 64 to become embedded in the ocean bottom, the present invention contemplates the provision of a gas or air line 66 through each leg 56 and its corresponding foot 64 and terminating at the bottom surface of the foot 64, note FIGURE 2, with this line 66 being connected to a source of pressurized gas or air so as to provide for, when a release of the feet 64 is desired, a jet-type flow of gas or air tending to dislodge the feet 64 so as to enable a raising of the structure 10. The introduction of compressed gas or air into the line 66 can be effected in any conventional manner from either of the spheres 12 or 14.

It is also contemplated that the structure 10 incorporate a self-contained propulsion device, preferably in the form of an electric motor driven propeller 68 projecting from the side of the lower sphere 14 with a rudder structure 70 aligned with and located outwardly of the propeller 63, it of course being appreciated that the propeller 68 is to be positioned outwardly from the sphere 14 a sufiicient distance so as to avoid any creation of a void forward of the propeller. Control of both the motorized propeller 68 and the rudder means 70 will be through conventional means accessible within the lower sphere 14.

In order to support the incoming supply line or lines 72, these lines in some instances being of considerable Weight, a laterally projecting arm 74 is fixed to the structure 10, this arm 74, especially in conjunction with the incoming lines 72, acting somewhat in the manner of a rudder so as to overcome any tendency for the structure 10 to spin while descending or ascending. This arm 74, while having been illustrated at close to the upper end of the upper sphere 12, may be located at or near the bottom of the structure 10 depending upon the weight of the incoming lines 72, inasmuch as this additional weight could, were the arm 74 located at the upper end of the structure 10, tend to tilt the diving structure.

As noted supra, it is contemplated that the diving structure of the instant invention be used primarily in the nature of a base of operation for divers who will perform their duties, at an underwater work site, generally under the observation or direction of one or more companions who will remain within the structure. In view of this, it will be appreciated that it is essential that various sections of the structure be selectively sealed from each other with each section having separate compression, decompression and recompression capabilities. In order to achieve this, the instant invention contemplates the provision of independent completely spherical units interconnected by a double hatched hatchway of a di ameter substantially less than the diameter of the spheres, but sufficient so as to enable passage of a person from one sphere to the other. This use of separate spherical units interconnected by cylindrical hatchways is deemed particularly significant in that a maximum resistance to external pressure is achieved while simultaneously achieving the maximum in space economy. In addition, the use of separate spherical units rigidly interconnected by elongated hatchways enables, as is contemplated by the instant invention, the construction of a diving structure including, in addition to the two spheres described in detail in the specification, three, four or even more rigidly interconnected and communicated spheres capable of accommodating a large crew in close and constant contact with, and observation of, the work project. Through the use of the separate recompression facilities, the crew can alternate the actual work outside of the diving structure.

In using the structure of the instant invention, prior to descent, the legs are adjusted to the proper length, the ballast tanks filled, and the crew positioned within the structure, it being noted that the structure specifically illustrated in the drawings is capable of accommodating two persons in each spherical unit, however, in actual usage this particular structure will in all probability, be used by a crew of two, these two alternating work and observation shifts. The structure is then lowered to the work site for use as a base of operation. Either during descent, or after arriving at the work site, one of the crew enters the lower sphere and commences a compression cycle while the other of the crew remains in the upper sphere at atmosphere pressure. Upon completion of the compression cycle, the lower crewman or diver, properly outfitted, is free to leave the structure and proceed with the job, such as for example working upon an underground well head as illustrated in FIGURE 1. After the diver has completed his job, or after he has been exposed to ambient pressure for a maximum period, he will re-enter the bottom sphere and begin his decompression cycle. At the same time, the observer in the upper sphere, who has been at atmospheric pressure, will begin his compression cycle. As the decompression cycle being conducted in the bottom sphere becomes equal to the compression cycle being conducted in the top sphere, the two crewmen exchange places with the former observer continuing his compression cycle in the lower chamber while the former diver continues his decompression cycle in the upper chamber, thus allowing a continuation of the work, almost uninterrupted, by the former observer. After the entire job has been completed, the diver enters the lower sphere and the entire structure may be raised as the diver is undergoing his decompression cycle. This raising of the structure can be accomplished in three different ways, or any combination thereof, by the support cable, by a blowing out of the ballast, and by a dropping of the weight ring. In addition, suitable guide cables, anchored to the bottom, can be provided if necessary. Although, not specifically described supra, the diving structure will include various observation and work aids such as for example, an underwater TV camera, various lights, and possibly one or more pairs of grapple arms in the form of articulated booms having a gripping hand at the outer end thereof, these arms being operable mechanically or by fluid pressure (air or gas) for gripping articles without the occupants of the diving structure exiting therefrom.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the particular structure illustrated in the drawings has a depth capability of fifteen hundred feet, thus enabling divers to operate at a heretofore unattainable depth. Additional safety factors are provided in the form of emergency air or gas supplies in each of the spheres, along with duplicate controls for the various operations to be performed. Incidentally, while no great lateral movement of the diving structure is contemplated, the shape of the structure enenables such lateral movement to be accomplished by a relatively compact propulsion unit, either in the form of a propeller and rudder as described supra, or in the form of rotatably mounted gas or liquid jets, which may be either a permanent part of the structure or an attachment therefor.

The foregoing is considered as illustrative only of the principles of the invention. Further, since numerous modifications and changes will readily occur to those skilled in the art, it is not desired to limit the invention to the exact construction and operation shown and described, and accordingly all suitable modifications and equivalents may be resorted to, falling within the scope of the invention as claimed.

I claim:

1. A diving structure comprising a pair of spherical units rigidly interconnected by a common hatchway communicating the interiors thereof with each other; hatch means at each end of the hatchway for selectively sealing ofr" the interior of each unit from the other; separate pressure adjusting and maintaining means associated with each of the units for regulating the breathing gas pressure within each unit, and a separate hatchway including a hatch means communicating at least one of the units with the exterior for diver ingress and egress.

2. A diving structure according to claim 1 wherein the pair of spherical units are arranged in vertical orientation with respect to each other forming an upper unit and a lower unit and further including a plurality of ballast tanks spaced peripherally about the structure and positioned generally between the upper unit and lower unit.

3. A diving structure according to claim 2 wherein the ballast tanks comprise spherical pressure vessels being individually connected to the upper unit, and wherein the diving structure further includes a plurality of legs secured to the lower unit at peripherally spaced points thereabout and depending therefrom in diverging relation to each other.

References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 617,750 l/1899 Lake 6169.1 962,019 6/1910 Flood et al. 61-69.1 1,008,301 11/1911 Baker 61--69.1 1,134,963 4/1915 Sisson 6169 1,795,408 3/1931 O Rourke 61-691 2,585,712 2/1952 Wiggins 61-69 2,924,947 2/ 1960 Peterson 61-465 2,991,489 7/1961 Kubach 61-69 X FOREIGN PATENTS 12,569 1914 Great Britain.

JACOB SHAPIRO, Primary Examiner.

Patent Citations
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US1795408 *Mar 24, 1928Mar 10, 1931O'rourke John FSubmarine air lock
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Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3469627 *Jun 29, 1967Sep 30, 1969Mobil Oil CorpSubsea production system
US3593533 *Oct 23, 1968Jul 20, 1971Ocean Recovery Corp Of AmericaUnderwater collecting and lifting device
US3683521 *Mar 5, 1970Aug 15, 1972Ocean Science & EngSubmersible dredge
US3812922 *Feb 16, 1972May 28, 1974B StechlerDeep ocean mining, mineral harvesting and salvage vehicle
US4123858 *Jul 25, 1977Nov 7, 1978Batchelder George WVersatile submersible device for dredging or other underwater functions
US4164195 *Jun 23, 1978Aug 14, 1979Gianfranco FrigeniImmersion apparatus carrying detachable and self-contained prospecting and submarine work units
US4692906 *Dec 13, 1985Sep 8, 1987Mobil Oil CorporationOcean bottom seisometer
US4780863 *Aug 19, 1987Oct 25, 1988Mobil Oil CorporationRemovable power supply for an ocean bottom seismometer
US4889066 *Jun 2, 1988Dec 26, 1989Blue Space Submersibles, Inc.Submersible vehicle
US6068427 *Dec 20, 1996May 30, 2000Abb Offshore Technology AsSystem and method for replacement of components on sea bottom-based installations
U.S. Classification405/192, 114/333, 114/334
International ClassificationB63C11/00, B63C11/36
Cooperative ClassificationB63C11/36
European ClassificationB63C11/36