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Publication numberUS3452815 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJul 1, 1969
Filing dateJul 31, 1967
Priority dateJul 31, 1967
Publication numberUS 3452815 A, US 3452815A, US-A-3452815, US3452815 A, US3452815A
InventorsWatkins Bruce J
Original AssigneeRegan Forge & Eng Co
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Latching mechanism
US 3452815 A
Images(3)
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

July 1, 1969 B. J. WATKINS LATCHING MECHANISM Filed July 31, 1967 u, a s

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, n/w fir TOIQA/EKS'I y 1969 B. J. WATKINS 3,452,815

' LATCHING MECHANISM Filed July 31, 1967 Sheet 3 of3 Iaz INVENTOR. BEL/CE J WEJTK/NS flr-roeA/eus.

B. J. WATKINS LATCHING MECHANISM July 1, 1969 Sheet Filed July 51, 1967 556,9. 1:46.10.

United States Patent 3,452,815 LATCHING MECHANISM Bruce J. Watkins, Palos Verdes Estates, Califl, assignor to Regan Forge & Engineering Co., San Pedro, Calif., a corporation of California Continuation-impart of application Ser. No. 491,247, Sept. 29, 1965. This application July 31, 1967, Ser. No. 660,558

Int. Cl. E21b 33/035, 43/ 01 F161 55/ 00 US. Cl. 166--.5 23 Claims ABSTRACT OF THE DISCLOSURE A latching mechanism for connecting lines run from a floating vessel to a subsea well including a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in a socket member adapted to receive and latch onto a mandrel or post member having a circumferential groove to receive said dogs, an actuator means operated by spring means and/or hydraulic fluid pressure for automatically blocking the latch dogs in latched position upon reception of the mandrel or post in the latch socket portion and a preset means including a trigger block, additional latching dogs and cooperating recess means in the actuator for releasably holding the actuator means in an unlatching position cocked to automatically move into a latching position on reception of the mandrel or post in the latch socket portion. A ported housing surrounding the latch means actuator and socket means with a portion of the actuator operably associated with an upwardly opening port so that a ring weight dropped down a line to said latch mechanism from a floating vessel thereabove will engage and move the actuator to a latch releasing position.

This application is a continuation-in-part of my copending application Ser. No. 491,247, filed Sept. 29, 1965, entitled Guide Line Latch, now abandoned.

Background of the invention In subsea oil well drilling and producing operations, a plurality of guide lines are generally connected between the well and floating vessel remote therefrom to locate the vessel relative to the well. Drilling or producing operations may thereafter be accomplished by running various tools and apparatus up and down between the vessel and Well along the guide lines. Other lines such as hydraulic fluid control lines, hoses or conduits may also be connected to the well.

However, when a drilling operation is completed or producing operations are interrupted, it is necessary to disconnect the guide and control lines from the well to release the vessel so it may move on to the next well installation or return to port. In instances where storms occur or rough seas are encountered, the safety of the floating vessel and its crew of operators may be endangered if the vessel is not quickly released from the well.

In the past, various manually operable latches have been used to connect the guide lines to the well installation. These latches, however, require the presence of a diver to manipulate the latches and are therefore not quickly or easily releasable on short notice.

It is the principal object of the present invention to disclose and provide a guide, control or tubing line latch apparatus to be attached to the lower end of a line to be releasably secured to an upstanding latch post, mandrel or conduit provided at a subsea well installation and which includes a socket means to land on and fit about the post, mandrel or, conduit and latching means including latch dogs operable through the socket means to lock onto the post, mandrel or conduit received in the socket means and an automatically operable actuator for actuating the latch dogs.

It is a still further object of the present invention to disclose and provide an apparatus as in the foregoing object in which the actuator means is provided for selecta'bly holding or releasing the latch dogs to or from the post, mandrel or conduit wherein the actuator is controlled by a preset means for holding it in a cocked release position until the mandrel, post or conduit is received within the latch means socket portion.

It is another object of the present invention to disclose and provide a guide and control line latch mechanism which may be quickly latched and thereafter easily released by the well operators on the floating vessel remote from the well by their merely dropping a weight down the line itself.

It is also an object of the present invention to disclose and provide a guide and control line or tubing latch apparatus which may be placed in a preset position prior to attachment to a well head mounted fitting or post so that it will automatically latch onto such fitting or post at the well on 'being landed thereon, which is then ready to be released by operation thereof from a remote floating vessel and which is placed in its preset position by such release.

It is another object of the present invention to disclose and provide a guide and control line or tubing latch mechanism for connecting guide control or tubing lines to a subsea well head mounted fitting or conduit wherein the entire latch mechanism is enclosed in a housing and associated socket means and the latch is released by the landing of a weight on the latch mechanism through a port in the upper end of the latch to operate an actuator means contained within the housing.

Summary of the invention Generally stated, the latching mechanism for connecting lines run from a floating vessel to a subsea well fitting, mandrel or post according to the present invention comprises the provision of a mandrel, post or conduit portion with a circumferential latch dog receiving groove provided therein and a complementary latch means portion for receiving and latching onto such mandrel, post or conduit portion. The latter latch means portion includes a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in a socket member or portion adapted to receive the mandrel, postor conduit therein. An actuator means is slidably mounted in the latch means with blocking means formed integrally therewith for blocking the latch dogs in a groove engaging position and an internal recess means vertically spaced from the blocking means for allowing the latch dogs to slide out of their latched, groove engaging position relative to the mandrel, conduit or post received in the socket member. The actuator means is biased by spring means into a latched position wherein it forces the latching dogs into engagement with the mating groove provided in the complementary mandrel, post or fitting portion of the latch mechanism. As particularly contemplated within the present invention, preset means are provided for releasably holding the actuator means against its spring bias in a latch dog release position until such preset means are operated by the reception of the post, mandrel or conduit portion of the latch mechanism ino the socket or latch means portion of the mechanism. Such preset means includes the provision of additional latch dogs provided in association with the latch means, and particularly the socket means thereof, a second internal recess means in the actuator means for receiving the additional latch dogs when the actuator means is in its release position and a movable or trigger block means mounted within the latch means to abut and hold such additional dogs into said second internal recess means and thus hold the actuator in its dog release position until such trigger or movable block means is moved inwardly of the latch means due to engagement with the mandrel, post or conduit portion received into the latch means. The latch mechanism is thus maintained in a preset relationship ready to automatically latch onto a complementary fitting or post and is returned to such preset means due to release of the latch means from such fitting or post. Such release of the latch mechanism may be accomplished through the use of hydraulic fluid pressure exerted against the actuator means to overcome its spring bias and allow the trigger block to resume its preset position or, preferably, and as particularly contemplated within the present invention, by means of a ring weight dropped down the line onto the latch mechanism. The latch mechanism housing is provided with an upwardly opening port at its upper end exposing a portion only of the actuator means for receiving the ring weight thereon. The ring weight dropped down the line thus lands on and engages the actuator to depress it into a release position against its internal spring bias. Concurrently with such release by the weight means, the actuator is held in its release position by the trigger or movable block returning to its preset position due to the forces acting thereon due to gravity or under a spring bias provided.

The latch mechanism according to the present invention will be better understood and additional objects and advantages thereof will become apparent to those skilled in the art from a consideration of the following detailed explanation of a preferred and two alternative exemplary embodiments of the guide, control or tubing line latching mechanism according to the present invention. Reference will be made to the appended sheets of drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is an elevational view of a floating vessel positioned over a subsea well installation with guide lines connected from a floating vessel to a well head by means of the preferred exemplary embodiment of guide line latch apparatus according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a section view of the preferred exemplary embodiment of guide line latch apparatus, of the present invention, in a preset or cocked position prior to reception of the mandrel or post provided at the Well head therein;

FIG. 3 is a sectional view of the apparatus of FIG. 2 shown in a latched or locked position upon reception of the mandrel or post into the socket portion of the latch apparatus;

FIG. 4 is a sectional view of the apparatus of FIGS. 2 and 3 showing the dropping of a ring weight down upon the actuator means to unlatch or unlock the latch apparatus;

FIG. 5 is an elevational view of the floating vessel positioned over a subsea well installation with guide lines connected from the vessel to the well by means of the preferred exemplary embodiment of guide line latch apparatus of FIGS. 1 through 4 and with a first alternative exemplary embodiment of a control or tubing line connector connecting line 116 run from the floating vessel to line 118 at the well head;

FIG. 6 is a sectional view of the first alternative exemplary embodiment of the control or tubing line connecting or latching mechanism of FIG. 5, and according to the present invention, in a fully connected or latched position;

FIG. 7 is a sectional view of the first alternative exemplary embodiment of control or tubing line latch mechanism of FIGS. 5 and 6 shown in unlatched or unlocked released position;

FIG. 8 is an elevational view of a floating vessel positioned over a subsea well installation by guide lines run from the vessel to the well with a second alternative ex emplary embodiment of control or tubing line connector or latching mechanism, according to the present invention, shown connecting line 216 run from the vessel to line 218 above a well head and above a conventional ball valve mechanism indicated generally at 219;

FIG. 9 is a sectional view of the second alternative exemplary embodiment of control or tubing line latching mechanism of FIG. 8 shown in latched or connected relation; and

FIG. 10 is a sectional view of the second alternative exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 8 and 9 shown in released or unlatched relation.

Referring first to FIG. 1, a floating vessel or platform, such as the ship 10, may be first anchored by anchor lines in a body of water 11 above a subsea formation 12. The vessel or ship 10 is provided with a conventional drilling rig, indicated generally at 13, positioned over a cellar or slot through the center of the vessel. A previously drilled Well is indicated generally at 14 in the formation 12 with a conductor pipe 15 cemented into place.

Conductor pipe 15 may be set into the well by any conventional method. One method is to strip or slide the conductor pipe 15 down over the drilling pipe used to drill the well. In most all conventional methods, the conductor pipe 15 is lowered to the well formation by means of detachable pipe. In the present exemplary embodiment, guide lines 16 are shown fastened to a guide line frame 17, which in turn is attached to the conductor pipe 15 at p the well. The guide lines 16 are run over a crown block 18 positioned at the top of the drilling rig and are unwound by the winch or draw works 19 to lower the conductor pipe 15 into the well formation.

The subsea oil well installation of FIG. 1 is considered to be exemplary of conventional subsea oil wells where a plurality of guide lines interconnect the floating vessel or ship 10 with the subsea oil well. When it becomes necessary to separate the floating vessel from the well, such as in rough seas or when drilling operations are completed, it is desirable to be able to quickly disconnect the guide lines 16 from the conductor pipe 15.

In order to allow the release of the guide lines 16 from the conductor pipe 15, the individual guide lines 16 are releasably secured to the guide line frame 17. The guide line latch of the first preferred exemplary embodiment of the invention, indicated generally at 30, may be employed for releasably connecting the guide lines 16 to the guide line frame 17 mounted to the conductor pipe 15, as subsequently described. By using the latch mech anism of the present invention, the individual guide line 16 may be selectively released from the frame 17 and conductor pipe 15 by the operators on the floating vessel, without the need for divers or the lowering of complicated tools. The guide lines 16 may then be raised, being wofind up by the winch 19, to release the vessel from the we Referring to FIG. 3, the first exemplary embodiment of the latching mechanism of the present invention will be described in detail in use as a guide line latch. As shown in FIG. 3, an upstanding latch post, fitting or mandrel, indicated generally at 20, is mounted to the guide line frame 17 to receive the exemplary guide line latch, indicated generally at 30. Each upstanding latch post or mandrel is provided with a lower generally cylindrical body portion 21, a middle body portion 23 of reduced diameter and an upper body portion 25 of still further reduced diameter. Landing or seat means are provided at an upper end of each of the generally cylindrical post or mandrel body portions. A first or lower seat 22, of generally truncated cone configuration, is provided between the lower body portion 21 and the reduced middle body portion 23. A second or middle seat 24, also of a generally truncated cone configuration, is provided between the reduced diameter middle body portion 23 and the still further reduced diameter upper body portion 25.

A head portion 26 is provided at the upper end of the post or mandrel with a beveled or chamfered edge 27. Between the head portion 26 and the upper body portion of each post there is provided a circumferential groove or notch 28 having convergently inclined sidewalls. The beveled edge 27 serves as an upper directing seat as the latch is landed on the post.

Each upstanding latch post or mandrel, indicated generally at 20, in the exemplary embodiment is therefore provided with a pair of vertically spaced seats 22 and 24 to receive the landing of the guide line latch thereon and is provided with a circumferential groove or notch adjacent its head portion to allow locking of the guide line latch to the post.

The guide line latch of the present exemplary embodiment of the invention includes socket means to land upon and fit about the upstanding post, mandrel, or fitting positioned at the subsea well. In the exemplary embodiment, as seen in FIG. 3, such socket means includes a multidiameter socket member 31.

Socket member 31 is adapted to fit upon the exemplary upstanding latch post or mandrel and is provided with a first or outer socket or bore 33 and a second or inner socket or bore to fit over the post midportion 23 and upper portion 25, respectively. A lower annular bearing surface 32 is provided at the lower or outer end of the socket member 31 to land or seat upon the generally annular seat 22. A second middle or inner bearing surface 34 is also provided in the socket member 31 between the bores 33 and 35 to land or seat upon the seat 24.

A housing 36 is provided in the first exemplary embodiment to surround and partly enclose the upper end portion of the socket member 31 to provide a space or cavity therebetween in which the latching means to be described may operate. The housing 36 is preferably concentrically fastened, as by conventional screw threads 37, to the socket member 31. As best seen in FIG. 2, an annular chamber 38 is formed between the housing bore 39 and the socket member 31. Chamber 38 is open to the environment external of housing 36 through ports 40 and an upper open bore 41 in the housing 36.

A wire rope socket 42 may be attached by any suitable means, as the screw threads 43, to the upper end of the socket member 31. The rope socket 42 extends upwardly of the socket member 31 through the bore 41 of housing 36, as shown in FIGS. 2 through 4, to receive and hold the lower ends of the guide line 16 to the guide line latch. Rope socket 42 is shown with a shaped inner bore 43 to receive and hold the plurality of ends 44 on the guide line 16 in conventional manner. The outside diameter of rope socket 42 is less than the inside diameter of bore 41 leaving an annular opening, indicated generally at 45 in FIGS. 2 and 4, between the rope socket and housing.

Latching means are associated with the socket means to latch or lock the socket means onto the upstanding latch post, fitting or mandrel received in the socket means. In the exemplary embodiment, such latching means includes a plurality of latch dogs 46. Each latch dog 46 is provided with an inwardly directed beveled projecting portion to mate or engage with the notch or groove 28 of the mandrel or post. Means are provided for slidably mounting each dog 46 to the socket means for sliding movement in a direction normal to the axis of the latch post and the socket means. Such means, in the exemplary embodiment, include the provision of a plurality of transverse openings or ports in the socket member 31 to allow the dogs 46 to slide through the wall of the socket member as shown in FIGS. 2 through 4. An outer stop or lip portion 47 may be provided on each dog 46 to abut a recessed outer wall portion of the socket member 31 to limit inward travel of the associated dog into the notch or groove 28 of the post 20.

Actuator means are provided for operating the latching means between a latched or locked position and a released or unlocked position. In the exemplary embodiment, such actuator means includes an actuator 50 slidably mounted within the housing 36 about the upper end of the socket member 31. Actuator'50 has a generally sleeve-like body portion 51 adapted to slide in the cavity 38 formed between the upper portions of socket member 31 and the housing 36. The upper or head portion 51 of the actuator overlies the closed end of the socket member 31 and is biased away therefrom by spring means 52.

The spring or biasing means 52 seat in and are mounted by the bored holes 53 in the upper end of the socket member 31. The upper ends of the spring means extend into holes 54 drilled or bored through the head 51 of the actuator. Holes 54 in the actuator head 51 may be tapped and provided with adjustable threaded stop members 55 which may be screwed into the holes 54 to provide adjustable stops for the upper ends of the spring means 52. The actuator 50 is thereby normally biased upwardly or away from the socket member 31 into a latched position.

Blocking means are provided on the actuator 50 for holding the plurality of latched dogs 46 in a latched or post-locking position when the actuator is in the upper outwardly biased or latched position of FIG. 3. As seen in FIG. 3, the actuator body 51 is provided with a lower annular blocking ring portion 56 which abuts and blocks each of the latching dogs 46 holding them in notch-engaging position to lock the socket member 31 to the post or mandrel 20 when the actuator 50 is in its raised or upper position.

Recess means are vertically spaced above the blocking ring 56 on the actuator body 51. A release or dog unlocking first recess 57 is provided in the actuator body spaced above the ring 56 to allow free movement of dogs 46 out of the notch or groove 28 when the actuator 50 is lowered from the position of FIG. 3 to the release position of FIG. 4. In FIG. 4, the actuator 50 has been lowered, bringing the internal ring-like recess 57 of the actuator body 51 into alignment with the latching dogs 46. When the actuator 50 is in this position, the blocking ring 56 is rendered inoperative and upward movement of the guide line latch will cause outward movement of dogs 46 due to camming action between the inner beveled edges of the dogs 46 and the upper convergent wall of the post groove or notch 28.

As particularly contemplated within the present invention, the movement of actuator 50 against its spring bias from the latched or locked position of FIG. 3 to the dog release position of FIG. 4 may be accomplished by operators upon the floating vessel without the need for manual operations by a diver at the subsea well location. The release of the first exemplary embodiment of the latch mechanism of the present invention, as illustrated in FIG. 4, may be accomplished by merely dropping a weighted ring 60 down the guide line 16 from the overhead floating vessel 10. In order to center the weighted ring 60 about the guide line 16 as it approaches the guide line latch, indicated generally at 30, a cylindrical guide 61 is provided having an upper tapered guide surface 62 over which the weighted ring 60 may slide. The actuator means of the present invention is adapted to be contacted and operated by the weight 60 to in turn cooperate with the latching means to release the latch dogs 46.

The head 51 of actuator 50, in this first exemplary embodiment, is provided with an upwardly extending ringlike crown 58 which slides in the annular opening 45 between the housing bore 41 and the collet 42. The upper end 59 of actuator crown 58 is exposed outwardly of housing 36 and is positioned concentrically about the collet 42 to which the guide line 16 is fastened.

On running or stripping a ring weight 60 down the guide line 16, the weight 60 is guided by guide 61 to land upon upper end 59 of actuator crown 58. The weight of ring 60 is suflicient to overcome the bias of spring means 52 to force the actuator 50 downwardly of housing 36 from the locking position of FIG. 3 to the unlocking position of FIG. 4. The ports 40 at the lower end of chamber 38 prevent the build-up of fluid pressure therein which might act against the weight of ring 60. The latching means including the latching dogs 46 are thereby released from the blocking action of the blocking ring 56 of the actuator 50 and are free to be cammed outwardly of the socket member 31 upon raising of the guide line 16 and the guide line latch.

The release of the exemplary guide line latch of the latch mechanism of the present invention above described allows the freeing or releasing of the floating vessel from the subsea well. If this release is accomplished because of unfavorable weather conditions or other temporary interruptions in well operations, it is desirable to be able to quickly reestablish a connection with the subsea well. In order to facilitate the reestablishment of a connection by the guide lines 16 between the floating vessel and the subsea Well, indicated generally at 14, the latch mechanism of the present invention is adapted to automatically lock upon the latch post, mandrel or Well head fitting on mating landing thereon. In the guide line latch of the present first exemplary embodiment, the act of landing the latch on the post 20 actuates means for propelling the actuator 50 from an unlocked position of FIG. 2 to the locked position of FIG. 3.

Referring first to FIG. 2, it may be seen that the actuator 50 may be preset in a lowered unlocking position wherein the latch dogs 46 are free to move outwardly of socket member 31 into the actuator recess 57. The spring means 52 bias the actuator 50 upwardly in FIG. 2 and tend to urge it in the upward direction into latched position. As particularly contemplated within the present invention, means are provided for holding actuator 50 in this preset unlocked position against the bias of springs 52. Such means in the exemplary embodiment includes the additional latching dogs 70 and means for mounting said dogs 70 for movement in a direction normal to the central axis of socket member 31. Such mounting means include the provision of ports or openings through the side wall of member 31 to allow additional dogs 70 to slide transversely of the socket wall. An additional or second recess 71 is provided in actuator 50 which is engaged by the dogs 70 to hold actuator 50 in its preset or spring biased, cocked position of FIG. 2 prior to landing on the latch posts 20. Dogs 70, recess 71 and a trigger block 72, subsequently described, cooperate to provide a preset means for rendering the actuator 50 inoperative to cause latching of dogs 48 onto the post or mandrel 20 until the latch mechanism is landed upon the post or mandrel.

A trigger or blocking member 72 is provided in the inner bore 35 of socket member 31 as part of a preset or latch locking means to block and hold the dogs 70 in engagement with the ring-like recess 71 in actuator 50. Means for suspending trigger or block 72 from the upper end of the socket member 31 in the exemplary embodiment include a plurality of bolts 73. Each bolt 73 may be threaded into the block 72 and movably suspended from the head portion of the socket member 31 by the bolt head as shown in FIG. 2.

Trigger or preset means block 72 has a reduced diameter portion 75 which, if aligned to the dogs 70, allows the dogs to move inwardly releasing the actuator 50.

Prior to landing the guide line latch upon the latching post or other well fitting, the actuator 50 may be lowered to the position of FIG. 2 with the dogs 70 blocking movement of the actuator under its spring bias. On the landing of the guide line latch on the latch post, the trigger or block 72 is abutted by the upper end or head of the latchiug post and raised within the socket member 31. This upward movement of the trigger or block 72 brings the block reduced diameter portion 75 into alignment with the dogs 70. Each dog 70 has a beveled or rounded outer surface engaging the recess 71 of the actuator and the spring bias of spring means 52 urging the actuator 50 upwardly in FIG. 2, causes a camming of the dogs 70 inwardly, releasing the actuator to move upwardly. Upward movement of actuator 50 from the unlocking preset position of FIG. 2 to the upper locked position of FIG. 3, causes an inward camming of the latch dogs 46 by the bevel 76 and the locking or blocking of the latch dogs 46 against the notch or groove 28 by the blocking ring 56.

An alternative, second preferred exemplary embodiment of the latching mechanism according to the present invention is shown in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7. In this alternative exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 5 through 7, the latching mechanism is particularly adapted for use in connecting lines, which may be pipe, hoses or other conduits, run from a floating vessel to a fitting or mandrel at a subsea well head. As seen in FIG. 5, the floating vessel 10 may be positioned on the sea 11 above the subsea formation 12 as in the foregoing exemplary embodiment. Vessel or ship 10 is provided, as before, with a conventional drilling rig, indicated generally at 13, and the previously drilled well, indicated generally at 14, is provided with a conductor pipe 15 cemented into place. Guide lines 16 may be run to and secured to the well head 17 by means of the previously described first exemplary embodiment of guide line latch mechanism, each indicated generally at 20.

In this alternative exemplary embodiment of latching mechanism, according to the present invention, and as seen in FIG. 5, a line or conduit 116 is run from the floating vessel by the use of guides 117 to an upstanding well head fitting, conduit or hollow mandrel or post 118. Line or conduit 116 is automatically latched to the hollow post or well head fitting or conduit 118 by means of the latching mechanism, indicated generall at 130, according to the present invention and as illustrated in FIGS. 6 and 7.

Referring to FIGS. 6 and 7, an alternative exemplary embodiment of the latch mechanism for connecting lines run from a floating vessel to a subsea well head will now be described in detail. Initially, it should be noted that the latch mechanism in the embodiment of FIGS. 6 and 7 is mounted at the well head with the mating mandrel or post member being mounted to the line or conduit 116 be ng run to the Well. The relationship of the latch mechamsm and the cooperating mandrel or post member may be interchanged as in the relationships shown in the prior exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 1 through 4 and as shown 1n the following second alternative exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 8 through 10.

The mandrel or mating post portion of the connecting or latching mechanism of FIG. 6 includes a body 121 mounted by threads 122 at the lower end of the line or conduit 116 being run from the floating vessel 10 to the wellhead 17, as seen in FIG. 5. Mandrel body 121 is provided with an outer body diameter at upper portion 123 adapted to fit or mate snugly the cooperating socket portion (of the latch mechanism hereinafter described) and a reduced body diameter portion 123. An outer end portion 124 mounting internal conventional seal means 125 1s threadably attached by threads 126 to the outer end of the mandrel body 121 as seen in FIG. 6. The outer or head portion 124 is provided with an outer beveled edge 127 and a circumferential groove or notch 128 havmg convergently inclined side walls to receive latching dogs as m the prior preferred exemplary embodiment.

Latch means including a socket portion for receiving and latching onto the mandrel or post portion are provided including the socket member 131, latching dogs 146 and actuator means 15!) generally as in the foregoing preferred exemplary embodiment. Socket member 131 is prov ded with a housing 136 to generally enclose and provlde a space or cavity therebetween in which the latching dogs and biased actuator means are contained. As seen m FIG. 6, housing 136 receives and is secured to the socket member 131 by threads 137 with suitable conventional O-ring seal means 132, 133 and 134. An annular chamber 138 is formed between the housing bore 139 and the socket member 131 as best seen in FIG. 7. Chamher 139 is adapted to receive hydraulic fluid under pressure through the port 140 and the hydraulic fluid line 141 connected to port 140 by a conventional fitting 142. Hydraulic fluid line 141 is preferably connected to a source of hydraulic fluid under pressure at the floating vessel. By selectably varying the hydraulic fluid pressure in chamber 138, the associated actuator means 150 may be forced upwardly into its released position of FIG. 7 against the bias of spring means 152 or may be allowed to be forced downwardly into the latched position of FIG. 6 under the urging of spring means 152 as hereinafter more fully described.

The upper end of chamber 138 is open through port 143 to the surrounding environment to allow movement of actuator means 150 in chamber 138 without building up resisting pressures in the upper end of the chamber where the spring means 152 is located. In order to prevent the introduction of sea water into the internal latch mechanism parts and to prevent loss of hydraulic fluid from the lower portions of chamber 138, seal means, indicated generally at 144 and 145 are provided at the upper and lower ends of actuator means 150. Each said seal means 144 and 145 includes a metal ring or annular body 146 of generally T-shaped cross section with a load supporting leg 147. A resilient sealing member 148 is preferably molded onto body 146 with portions thereof passing through appropriate apertures provided in the leg 147 of the body 146. The seal means thus provided allows the transmission of loading from spring means 152 to the actuator 150 without interfering with the lip seals effected by the resilient member 148 against the inner wall of housing 136 and the outer wall of socket member 131. Similarly, the seal means, indicated generally at 145, acts as a stop for downward movement of actuator means 150, as seen in FIG. 6, without etfecting the operation of the lip seal effected by the seal member 148 between the housing 136 and inner socket member 131.

As in the prior exemplary embodiment, each of the latch dogs 146 forming a part of the latching means of the latch mechanism includes an inwardly directed beveled projecting portion to mate or engage with the notch or groove 128 on the post or mandrel portion 124 mounted to line or conduit 116. The means for slidably mounting each dog 146 to the socket portion or means 131 for sliding movement in a direction normal to the axis of the socket member 131 and the mandrel 124, as before, includes the provision of a plurality of transverse openings or ports in socket member 131 to allow the dogs 146 to slide therethrough into the positions of FIGS. 6 and 7.

The actuator means in the alternative exemplary embodiment, as before, includes the sleeve-like actuator 150 provided with a lower annular internal blocking ring portion 156 adapted to abut and block each of the latching dogs 146 into latched position as seen in FIG. 6. Recess means including the first recess 157 is provided in the actui ator body spaced above the blocking ring 156 to allow free movement of dogs 146 out of the notch or groove 128 when the actuator 150 is lowered from the position of FIG. 6 to the released position of FIG. 7. Such release of the latch mechanism of the first alternative exemplary embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. and 7, is accomplished by introducing hydraulic fluid under pressure into chamber 138 to force the actuator means 150 upwardly from the latched position of FIG. 6 to the dog released position of FIG. 7. Withdrawal movement of mandrel 124 by raising of conduit 116 will cam dogs 146 outwardly of notch 128 releasing the mandrel from the latch means at the well head.

As seen in FIG. 7, the first conduit 116 mounting mandrel portions 121 and 124 is connected to the second conduit 118 at the well head upon latching of the mandrel or post member of the mechanism into the socket member 131. A nipple or fitting 119 is provided on the well head or second conduit 118 with a reduced diameter portion 119' adapted to fit into the inner bore of mandrel or port member 124, the coupling thus affected being sealed by seal means 125. A split ring 180 may be employed for assemblying the latch means socket portion to fitting 119 as shown in FIGS. 6 and 7.

A landing surface 129 on fitting 119 is adapted to receive the abutting inclined landing surface 129 provided on the lower end of the mating fitting or mandrel portion 124. Such landing of the mandrel member within the socket member onto the seat 129 operates preset means for holding the actuator means in a preset, inoperative position as in the foregoing exemplary embodiment of a guide line latch mechanism according to the present invention in latch mechanisms.

As particularly contemplated within the present invention, the latching mechanism of the present invention includes means for releasably holding the actuator means against its spring bias in a latch dog released or inoperative position until the mandrel, post or complementary fitting is received in the socket portion of the latch means. Such means for releasably holding the actuator means in a latch dog release position is termed herein a preset means for holding the actuator means in a cocked or preset position against the bias of its associated exemplary biasing means including the spring means 152. As in the prior exemplary embodiment, such preset means in this first alternative exemplary embodiment of a latch mechanism according to the present invention, includes the provision of a plurality of additional latch dogs slidably mounted in the latch means socket member 131, in the same manner as dogs 146, an additional or second internal recess 171 spaced vertically within the interior of the actuator 150 from the first recess 157, and a co operating movable or trigger block means 172 provided within the latch means.

Movable or trigger block 172 is mounted within the first alternative exemplary embodiment of latch means of FIGS. 6 and 7 by spring biasing means 173 biasing the annular or ring-like block 172 upwardly in FIG. 7 between members 131 and 119 into the illustrated preset position with an outer shoulder 174 of ring block 172 abutting an inwardly directed annular shoulder 175 provided on the interior of the socket member 131 as seen in FIGS. 6 and 7. As in the prior exemplary embodiment, the trigger or movable block means, including a ring-like configuration in this embodiment, is provided with a multidiameter exterior configuration including a reduced exterior diameter portion 176 adapted to allow release of the additional dogs 170 when the trigger block 172 is depressed against its bias of spring means 173 on reception of the mandrel or post member 121 into the socket member 131 as seen in FIG. 6.

As previously described, the release of the latch mechanism is effected by introducing hydraulic fluid under pressure into chamber 138 to force the actuator 150 upwardly from the position of FIG. 6 to that of FIG. 7. Such upward movement of actuator 150 aligns the second internal recess 172 with the additional dogs 170 allowing them to move outwardly of the socket member 131 into the released position of FIG. 7. Such outward movement of dogs 170 allows upward movement of the trigger block 172 into the raised preset position of FIG. 7, under the urging of its spring means 173, placing the latch mechanism in a preset or cocked position with the actuator member held in its release position whether hydraulic pressure is maintained in chamber 138 or not. The hydraulic fluid line connection between the floating vessel and the latch mechanism may therefore be disconnected to allow mobility of the vessel free from the well with the latch mechanism preset ready to receive and automatically latch onto a mandrel or mating fitting subsequently run from the vessel to the well.

The foregoing first alternative exemplary embodiment of latch mechanism, according to the present invention, is particularly adapted for use in remotely connecting and/or disconnecting high pressure lines on a subsea 1 1 blowout preventer means. In the second alternative exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 8 through 10, the latching mechanism, according to the present invention, is illustrated in use as a tubing connector with additional means for operating or pressuring a ball valve or other means provided at the well head.

Referring first to FIG. 8, guide lines 16 are shown connecting the vessel to a subsea well head means 17 associated with the conductor pipe cemented in the well, indicated generally at 14. In the arrangement illustrated in FIG. 8, testing operations of the well may be performed through tubing or conduit 216 connected by the latch mechanism, indicated generally at 230 and according to the second alternative exemplary embodiment of FIGS. 9 and 10, to a mandrel extension mounted above a spacer sub and pressure operated ball valve, indicated generally at 219, mounted above a landing collar 220. The tubing connector or latching mechanism, indicated generally at 230, is used primarily in such an arrangement as an emergency disconnect and a means of reconnecting to the tubing string therebelow during well testing from the floating vessel. The second alternative exemplary embodiment of tubing connector, however, may also be adapted to other down hole operations which require a means of disconnecting and connecting a tubing or pipe string. It may be noted in this embodiment, that the mandrel portion of the latch mechanism is mounted below the sea with the socket portion of the latch means being run on the end of tubing 216 down toward the subsea well. The relationship between the mandrel and socket portion of the latch mechanism, as hereinbefore stated, may be reversed as desired.

Referring to FIGS. 9 and 10, the second alternative exemplary embodiment includes a mandrel, hollow post or fitting portion 224 mounted on a body portion or coupling 221 secured to a conduit 218 above the well head. A circumferential groove or notch 228 is provided, as before, to receive the latch dogs 246 mounted to the socket member 231.

The latch means of the second alternative exemplary embodiment is constructed generally in accordance with that of the first alternative exemplary embodiment including the socket member 231, latching dogs 246 and actuator means 250. Socket member 231 is provided with a housing 236 generally enclosing and providing a spacer cavity between the housing and socket member 231 in which the latching dogs 246 and biased actuator means 250 are contained. The annular chamber 238 thus formed receives the ring-like actuator means 250, its spring biasing means 252 and provides a hydraulic fluid receiving chamber which may be pressured through hydraulic fluid line 241 connected thereto by the port 240 and fitting 242 as seen in FIG. 9. Appropriate seal means, indicated generally at 244 and 245 are provided in association with the actuator means 250, as hereinbefore described, for making actuator 250 responsive to the introduction of hydraulic fluid under pressure into the upper end of chamber 238 to force it into an unlatched position as seen in FIG. 10.

Socket member 231 and housing 236, in the embodiment of FIGS. 9 and 10, are mounted to a fitting 219 secured to the lower end of a line or conduit 216 and having a tubular extension 219' adapted to be received snugly within the bore of mandrel 224. Sealing means 225 are provided on the exterior of portion 219' to seal off the interiors or bores of conduits 216, the inner bore of fitting 219, the inner bore of mandrel 224 and the bore of conduit 218 from the surrounding environment. On landing of the latching means including; socket member 231 down upon the hollow mandrel or fitting 224 provided above the well head, the conduit 216 is thus connected into conduit 218 in a fluid tight arrangement concurrently with the operation of the latching mecha sm.

Automatic latching of the latching mechanism, indicated generally at 230 on its landing upon the mandrel above the well head is accomplished in this second alternative exemplary embodiment through the use of preset means, as in the prior embodiments, including a ring-like or annular trigger lock 272 biased outwardly of the interior of socket member 231 and its associated end fitting 219 by spring means 273. The additional dogs 270 slidably mounted in socket member 231 are adapted to be received with the additional or second internal recess 250 provided in actuator 250. The vertically spaced first vertical recess 257 is adapted to receive dogs 246 in an unlatched position while the actuator is held in its preset or cocked position by the engagement of additional dogs 270 in the recess 250' as in the prior exemplary embodiments.

From the foregoing description of the second alternative exemplary embodiment, it can be seen that the latch mechanism indicated generally at 230 is constructed and operated generally as that of the preferred and first alternative exemplary embodiment. However, in the second alternative exemplary embodiment, means are provided for operating a ball valve or other means at the subsea well head through the application of hydraulic fluid under pressure through control lines automatically connected upon the landing and automatic latching of the latch mechanism on the well head fitting. As seen in FIG. 9, a control line 290 is provided which is adapted to run, as seen in FIG. 8, to a ball valve mechanism or other hy draulic fluid operated means at the well head. Appropriate fittings, indicated generally at 291, connect control line 290 to the mandrel portion 221 as seen in FIG. 9. An upper control line 292 is provided which may be run with the latch mechanism and conduit 216 from the floating vessel, such line being connected by appropriate fittings, indicated generally at 293, to the latch means portion or end fitting 219. Internal passage means are provided in the latch and mandrel portions for automatically interconnecting the control lines 290 and 292 upon landing and latching of the latch mechanism.

As seen in FIGS. 9 and 10, passages 294 and 295 are provided within the mandrel portions 221 and 224. A port 295, as best seen in FIG. 10, opens passage 295 inwardly of the bore 224' of mandrel portion 224. Passage means 296 and 297 are provided in the latching means fitting 219 with a port 298 adapted to align with mandrel port 295' upon landing of the latch means upon the mandrel. Appropriate seal means 299 are provided about port 298 to seal the passages 297 and 295 into fluid tight communication. From the foregoing, it can be seen that upon latching of the latch mechanism of this second alternative exemplary embodiment, a fluid tight connection is effected between control lines 290 and 292 allowing the control of fluid operated means at the well head from the remotely positioned floating vessel.

Having thus described exemplary embodiments of the latch mechanism including guide line latch apparatus and tubing connectors according to the present invention, it should be understood that the foregoing detailed descriptions are illustrative of exemplary embodiments according to the invention and are not intended to limit the scope of the invention and it should be understood that other embodiments, adaptations and modifications may be made within the scope of the present invention as defined by the following claims.

I claim:

1. A latching mechanism for connecting lines run from g a floating vessel to a subsea well comprising:

a mandrel portion with a circumferential latch dog receiving groove provided therein;

a latch means for receiving said mandrel portion;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said latch means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said latch means to engage or release said latch dog receiving groove when said latch means receives said mandrel;

actuator means slidably mounted in said latch means and including internal blocking means for blocking 13 said latch dogs in a groove engaging position and an internal recess means vertically spaced from said blocking means for allowing said latch dogs to slide out of said groove when said actuator means is moved to align said recess means to said dogs;

spring means operable between said actuator means and said latch means for biasing said actuator means to place said blocking means in blocking relation to said latch dogs in said groove; and

movable means for releasably holding said actuator means against said spring bias in a latch dog released position until said mandrel is received in said latch means and being movable by reception of said mandrel into said latch means for releasing said actuator means.

2. A latching mechanism for connecting lines run from a floating vessel to a subsea well comprising:

a mandrel portion with a circumferential latch dog receiving groove provided therein;

a latch means for receiving said mandrel portion;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said latch means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said latch means to engage or release said latch dog receiving groove when said latch means receives said mandrel;

actuator means slidably mounted in said latch means and including internal blocking means for blocking said latch dogs in a groove engaging position and an internal recess means vertically spaced from said blocking means for allowing said latch dogs to slide out of said groove when said actuator means is moved to align said recess means to said dogs;

spring means operable between said actuator means and said latch means for biasing said actuator means to place said blocking means in blocking relation to said latch dogs in said groove; and

means for releasably holding said actuator means against said spring bias in a latch dog released position until said mandrel is received in said latch means wherein said means for releasably holding said actuator means comprises:

additional latch dogs provided in association with said latch means for holding said actuator means in a latch dog release position against said spring bias;

additional internal recess means in said actuator means for receiving said additional latch dogs when said actuator means is in said release position; and

movable block means mounted within said latch means to abut and hold said additional dogs in an actuator holding position with said additional dogs engaging said actuator additional internal recess, said block means being movable inwardly of said latch means by engagement with said mandrel on landing of said latch means on said mandrel to cause release of said additional dogs and consequent latching of said latching means onto said mandrel by the operation of said spring means on said actuator means and associated latch dogs.

3. A latching mechanism as in claim 2 wherein:

means for moving said actuator means against the bias of said spring means are provided and include weight means about a line run from said vessel to said well to be dropped upon said actuator to overcome the bias of said spring means and move said actuator in said latch means to align said recess means and additional recess means with said latch dogs and additional latching dogs, respectively, to thereby release said latch dogs from said mandrel groove and allow said movable block means to block said additional dogs in said additional recess to hold said actuator in its release position.

4. A latching mechanism as in claim 2 wherein:

spring means are provided for biasing said movable block means into a preset position in which said block means hold said additional dogs in said actuator holding position.

'5. A latching mechanism for connecting lines run from floating vessel to a subsea well comprising:

a mandrel portion with a circumferential latch dog receiving groove provided therein;

a latch means for receiving said mandrel portion;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said latch means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said latch means to engage or release said latch dog receiving groove when said latch means receives said mandrel;

actuator means slidably mounted in said latch means and including internal blocking means for blocking said latch dogs in a groove engaging position and an internal recess means vertically spaced from said blocking means for allowing said latch dogs to slide out of said groove when said actuator means is moved to align said recess means to said dogs;

spring means operable between said actuator means and said latch means for biasing said actuator means to place said blocking means in blocking relation to said latch dogs in said groove; and

means for releasably holding said actuator means against said spring bias in a latch dog released position until said mandrel is received in said latch means;

wherein means for moving said actuator means against the bias of said spring means to release said latch means from said mandrel are provided including:

a hydraulic fluid receiving chamber provided in said latch means;

fluid sealing means associated with said actuator means for sealing said hydraulic fluid receiving chamber against loss of hydraulic fluid therefrom and for transmitting hydraulic fluid pressure in said chamber to said actuator means; and

hydraulic fluid conduit means associated with said hydraulic fluid chamber and a source of hydraulic fluid under pressure for supplying hydraulic fluid under pressure to said hydraulic fluid chamber to pressure said actuator means into a latch dog release position against said spring bias to release said latch means from said mandrel.

6. A subsea line latching and releasing mechanism comprising:

socket means to receive and fit about a mating fitting at a subsea well;

latching means associated With said socket means for latching onto said fitting when it is received in said socket means;

actuator means for operating said latching means between latched and released positions;

spring means for urging said actuator means into a latched position;

latch dogs associated with said socket means for engaging and holding said actuator means in released position against the bias of said spring means; and

movable means Within said socket means to abut and hold said latch dogs 1n engagement With said actuator means to hold said actuator means in said released position and being movable Within said socket means by engagement with said fitting on reception of said fitting into said socket means to free said latch dogs and allow said actuator means to be urged into latched position under the urging of said spring means acting on said actuator means.

7. A subsea line latching and releasing mechanism as in claim 6 wherein:

means are provided for selectably urging said actuator means into said actuator means released position overcoming said spring bias;

said actuator means has internal recess means aligned to said latch dogs when in said released position; and

said movable means is movable upon release of said socket means from said fitting into a cocked position locking said latch dogs into said actuator means internal recess means to hold said actuator means in said released position until said socket means again receives said fitting.

8. A latch means apparatus for releasably securing a first conduit run from a floating vessel to a second conduit at a subsea well head, said latch apparatus comprising:

socket means for receiving one of said conduits;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said socket means into and out of engagement with a circumferential groove provided in an outer surface of the other of said conduits;

actuator means associated with said socket means for actuating said latch dogs into a groove engaging and conduit latching position;

biasing means for biasing said actuator means in a direction to actuate said latching dogs into said latched position; and

preset means for holding said actuator means in a preset position against the bias of said biasing means with said latch dogs in a released position, said preset means being operated to release said actuator means from said preset position by the reception of said other of said conduits into said socket means.

9. A latch means apparatus for releasably securing a first conduit run from a floating vessel to a second conduit at a subsea well head, said latch apparatus comprising:

socket means for receiving one of said conduits;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said socket means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said socket means into and opt of engagement with a circumferential groove provided in an outer surface of the other of said conduits;

actuator means associated with said socket means for actuating said latch dogs into a groove engaging and conduit latching position;

biasing means for biasing said actuator means in a direction to actuate said latching dogs into said latch position; and

preset means for holding said actuator means in a preset position against the bias of said biasing means with said latch dogs in a released position, said preset means being rendered inoperable to hold said actuator means in said preset position on reception of said other of said conduits in said socket means on said one of said conduits;

wherein said preset means includes:

a plurality of additional dogs and means for mounting them for sliding movement through said socket means;

internal recess means in said actuator means to be engaged by said additional dogs to hold said actuator; and

movable block means within said socket means to block said additional dogs against inward movement relative to said socket means, said block means being movable by engagement with said other of said conduits on reception of said other of said conduits in said socket means to release said additional dogs from said internal recesses and thereby release said actuator means to be moved under the bias of said biasing means to place said latch dogs in latched position.

10. A line connector for releasably connecting a line run from a floating vessel to a remote subsea well head comprising:

a first portion of said connector including a socket means to receive and fit about a second mating portion of the connector;

latching means associated with said socket means for latching onto a second mating portion received in said socket means;

actuator means associated with said socket means and said latching means for operating said latching means into a latched position;

biasing means for urging said actuator means to operate said latching means into said latched position; and

preset means for holding said actuotor means in a preset position against the bias of said biasing means with said latch dogs in a released position from said actuator means, said preset means being triggered by engagement with said second mating portion on landing of said first portion socket means thereon to release said actuator means and allow its operation of said latching means into its latching position under the bias of said biasing means.

11. A line connector as in claim 10 wherein:

means are provided for operating said actuator means into a latch means releasing position to allow release of said socket means from said second mating portion of the connector and for concurrently allowing movement of said preset means into said preset position.

12. A line connector as in claim 10 wherein said means for operating said actuator means into a latch means releasing position includes:

a weight means positioned about said line and dropped onto said actuator means from said floating vessel.

13. The line connector of claim 10 wherein:

said first portion of said connector is provided with a first internal fluid passage and means for connecting said first passage to a first control line positioned externally thereof; and

said second mating portion of said connector is provided with a second internal fluid passage and means for connecting said second passage to a second control line positioned externally thereof whereby said first and second control lines are connected on latching of said second mating portion of the connector into the socket means of said first portion of said connector.

14. Apparatus for releasably securing a floating vessel to a subsea well installation having a conductor pipe providing access to the well, said apparatus comprising:

a plurality of guide lines to interconnect the vessel and well and mean on said vessel for lowering and raising said guide lines between the vessel and well;

a guide line frame mounted to the well conductor pipe and having a plurality of upstanding latch posts provided thereon, each said latch post being provided with a circumferential groove having convergently inclined side walls;

latch means connected to the lower end of each guide line for latching the associated guide line to a latch post, each said latch means including an inner socket means for seating upon said post, an outer upwardly opening housing and an actuator means positioned about said socket means within said housing for actuating said latch means to release the associated post when a weight is dropped down said associated guide line into said housing and onto said actuator to release said latch means from said post and allow raising of said line.

15. A guide line latch apparatus for releasably securing the lower end of a guide line suspended from a floating vessel to a subsea well, said apparatus comprising:

an upstanding latch post mounted to the subsea well;

latching means connected to the lower end of a guide line and having a socket portion to fit over said post and a plurality of latch dogs operable through the socket portion to latch onto a post received in said socket portion;

latch actuator means for holding said dogs onto said post;

ring means for operating said actuator means to a dog release position by its weight, said ring means being positioned around said guide line to be dropped on said actuator means from said vessel; and

preset means including a plurality of additional dogs and means for mounting them for sliding movement through the socket portion, internal recess means in said actuator means to be engaged by said additional dogs to hold said actuator, and movable block means 17 within said socket portion to block said additional dogs against inward movement of the socket portion, said block means being movable on engaging said post on landing of the socket means on said post to release said additional dogs from said internal recess and thereby release said actuator means.

16. A guide line latch to releasably secure a guide line to a latch post positioned at a subsea well, said latch comprising:

socket means to fit over and land upon a latch post at the well;

a plurality of latch dogs and means for mounting said dogs for movement through said socket means into and out of post engaging positions;

a housing surrounding a portion of said socket means and providing an annular cavity therebetween, said cavity being open to the exterior of said housing through a port in an upper end of said housing;

actuator means slidably mounted within said cavity for movement between raised and lowered positions within said housing, said actuator means including a head portion slidable in said housing port;

spring means biasing said actuator means into said raised position;

dog blocking means on said actuator means to hold said latch dogs inwardly of said socket means against a post received in said socket means when said actuator means is in said raised position;

dog release means on said actuator means to release said latch dogs from said blocking means when said actuator is moved to said lowered position; and

separate weight means for overcoming the spring bias of said spring means and moving said actuator to said lowered position, said separate Weight means being movable onto said actuator means head through said housing port.

17. In the guide line latch of claim 16 the provision of a guide means on the guide line adjacent the housing port to guide said weight mean into said port.

18. A guide line latch as in claim 16 including the provision of:

preset means for holding said actuator means in said lowered position against the bias of said spring means with said latch dogs released from said dog blocking means, said preset means being rendered inoperable to hold said actuator in said lowered position on landing said socket mean on said latch post.

19. The guide line latch of claim 18 wherein:

said preset means includes a plurality of additional dogs and means for mounting them for sliding movement through the socket means;

internal recess means in said actuator means to be engaged by said additional dogs to hold said actuator; and

movable block means within said socket means to block said additional dogs against inward movement of the socket means, said block means being movable on engaging said post on landing of the socket means on said post to release said additional dogs from said internal recess and thereby release said actuator means.

20. A guide line latching and release mechanism for releasably connecting guide lines from a floating vessel to a subsea well comprising:

a latch post mounted on a portion of a subsea well with a circumferential latch receiving groove provided therein;

a latch socket means for fitting over said latch post;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said socket means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said socket means to engage or release said latch receiving groove;

actuator means slidably mounted about said socket including internal blocking means for holding said latch dogs in a groove engaging position and an internal recess means vertically spaced from said blocking means for allowing said latch dogs to slide out of said groove when said actuator means is moved to place said recess means aligned to said do'gs;

spring means between said actuator and socket means for biasing said actuator away from said socket means whereby said blocking means holds said latch dogs in said groove;

and weight means to be positioned upon said actuator to overcome the bias of said spring means and move said actuator downwardly on said socket'means to align said recess means with said latch dogs and thereby release said latch dogs from said post groove.

21. The guide line latching and release mechanism of claim 20 wherein:

said socket means is provided with additional latch dogs for holding said actuator means in a latch dog release position against said spring bias;

said actuator has additional internal recess means engaged by said additional latch dogs when in said release position; and

movable block means are suspended within said socket means to abut and hold said additional dogs outwardly of said socket means, said additional dogs thereby engaging said actuator additional internal recess and holding said actuator in release position, said block means being movable inwardly of said socket means by said post on landing of said socket means on said post causing release of said additional dogs and latching of said latching means by said spring means acting on said actuator.

22. A latch means apparatus for releasably securing a first conduit run from a floating vessel to a second conduit at a subsea well head, said latch apparatus comprismg:

socket means for receiving one of said conduits, said socket means including a fitting to be connected in fluid tight engagement with one of said conduits;

fluid sealing means for sealing said connected one of said conduits and said fitting;

a plurality of latch dogs slidably mounted in said socket means for movement in directions normal to the axis of said socket means into and out of engagement with 'a circumferential groove provided in an outer surface of the other of said conduits;

actuator means associated with said socket means for actuating said latch dogs into a groove engaging and conduit latching position;

biasing means for biasing said actuator means in a direction to actuate said latching dogs into said latched position; and

preset means for holding said actuator means in a preset position against the bias of said biasing means with said latch dogs in a released position, said preset means being rendered inoperable to hold said actuator means in said preset position on reception of said other of said 'conduits in said socket means on said one of said conduits.

23. In a latching mechanism for connecting lines run from a floating vessel to a subsea well head wherein a mandrel portion is to be received into a latch means and locked therein by latch dogs operated by an actuator which is movable within the latch means and is biased toward locked position, the improvement comprising the provision of:

movable means associated with said latch means to hold said actuator against said spring bias in a latch dog released position until said mandrel is received in said latch means, said movable means being movable relative to said latch means by engagement with said mandrel on reception of said mandrel into said latch means to allow said actuator to move due to its bias into a latching position.

(References on following page) 1 9 20 References Cited 3,233,666 2/1966 Geer et a1 166-.5 3,332,484- 7/1967 Watkins 166.6

UNITED STATES PATENTS Knox 166-75 7 CHARLES E. OCONNELL, Primary Examiner. Hayes 1757 5 R. E. FAVREAU, Assistant Examiner.

Raulins 285-23 Hayes 166-.5 X US. Cl. X.R.

Postlewaite. 166.6 23523

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Classifications
U.S. Classification166/344, 285/23
International ClassificationE21B43/01, E21B43/00, E21B33/038, E21B41/00, E21B33/03, E21B41/10
Cooperative ClassificationE21B41/10, E21B33/038, E21B43/01
European ClassificationE21B41/10, E21B33/038, E21B43/01
Legal Events
DateCodeEventDescription
Mar 15, 1982ASAssignment
Owner name: HUGHES TOOL COMPANY
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:REGAN OFFSHORE INTERNATIONAL,INC.;REEL/FRAME:003957/0735
Effective date: 19820211