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Publication numberUS3779020 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateDec 18, 1973
Filing dateMar 14, 1972
Priority dateMar 20, 1971
Also published asDE2213144A1, DE2213144B2, DE2213144C3
Publication numberUS 3779020 A, US 3779020A, US-A-3779020, US3779020 A, US3779020A
InventorsK Aramaki, T Muramatsu
Original AssigneeBridgestone Tire Co Ltd
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Immersible oil fence assembly
US 3779020 A
Abstract
An immersible oil fence assembly including alternately connected oil fence units and immersible buoys. The oil fence units have tubular float means connected to inflatable bags of the immersible buoys. By inflating and deflating the tubular float means and the inflatable bags, the oil fence is selectively floated and immersed. The buoys are anchored to station the oil fence assembly in position.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent [1 1 Muramatsu et al.

IMMERSIBLE OIL FENCE ASSEMBLY Inventors: Tateo Muramatsu; Kuninori Aramaki, both of Yokohama City, Japan Assignee: Bridgestone Tire Company Limited,

Tokyo, Japan Filed: Mar. 14, 1972 App]. No.: 234,579

Foreign Application Priority Data Mar. 20, 197! Japan 46/15685 [1.8. CI. 61/1 F Int. Cl E02b 15/04 Field of Search 61/1 F, 5; 210/242,

2l0/DlG. 21

[ Dec. 18, 1973 [56] References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,708,983 l/l973 Brown 6l/l F Primary Examiner-Peter M. Caun Attorney-Martin Fleit et al.

[57] ABSTRACT An immersible oil fence assembly including alternately connected oil fence units and immersible buoys. The oil fence units have tubular float means connected to inflatable bags of the immersible buoys. By inflating and deflating the tubular float means and the inflatable bags, the oil fence is selectively floated and immersed. The buoys are anchored to station the oil fence assembly in position.

12 Claims, 14 Drawing Figures SHEET 02 0F 10 PAIENTEU 05m 8 ms PATENTEI] DEC] 8 I973 SHEEI Oh (if 10 PATENIEUUEBIBIQTS 3,779,020

' sum user 10 Pmmmnmw' 3779 020 sum user 10 PAIENTEU mi 1 81m 1-3. 7751. um

, sum near 10 PAI N use! 8197a SEIEEI 10 0F 10 BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention This invention relates to a selectively immersible oil fence assembly, and more particularly to a comparativelysimpleprocess and device for quickly forming a selectively immersible oil fence line at desiredmoment and allowing the oil fence line to sink so deep in water when it is not in use that ships can navigate above the oil fence line thus sunk.

2. Description of the Prior Art Duringloading to and unloading from an oil tanker on berth, ata quay or an offshore dolphin, there is a risk that oil leaked from the piping for the loading or unloading may spread on the water surface to cause water pollution. To prevent such risk, an oil fence is provided either from the quay side or from the tanker side, so as to enclose the water surface in the proximity of the pipe line for preventing the oil leakage from spreading beyond the area defined by the oil fence. If such oil fence is a semi-permanent installation provided in the proximity of a quay or a dolphin, it may disturb the navigation of ships and restrict the port function. The semi-permanent oil fence may also collide with ships and cause damage. The exposure of the semipermanent oil fence to rugged sea and weather conditions may shorten its service life. On the other hand, if the oil fenceis temporarily installed and removed for each loading or unloading operation, the installing and removing work of the temporary oil fence is time consuming. Furthermore, temporary oil fences are required to be simple from the standpoint of operation and cost, so that it is difficult to ensure reliable protection against dispersion of oil leakage.

Therefore, an object of the present invention is to obviate the aforesaid difficulties of conventional oil fence, by providing a selectively immersible oil fence assembly,

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION According to the present invention, there is provided an immersible oil fence assembly, in which a tubular floatmeans carrying an elongated flexible belt member is selectively inflated, so as to selectively form an oil fence line by floating the flexible belt member on water surface. Upon deflation of the tubularfloat means, the entire oil fence line sinks deep in water, so as to allow ship navigation above the oil fence line thus sunk. The oil fence assembly includes immersible buoys which are anchored through flexible wire rope means, so as to re 'peatedly produce the oil fence line substantially at a predetermined protective zone and to prevent the oil fence line from drifting beyond the periphery of the protective zone.

With the immersible oil fence assembly of the aforesaidconstruction, the pollution due to oil leakage is effectively prevented, while allowing ship navigation above the oil fence which is not in use by immersing the oil fence assembly deep in water. Accordingly, the risk of collision of the oil fence with ships and quay is completely eliminated. As long as the oil fence is sunk in water, it is free from destructive effects of rugged weather and wave conditions, so that a long service life is ensured. With the oil fence assembly according to the prevent invention, an oil fence line can easily be formed on the water surface, simply by inflating the tubular float means. Thus, the complicated and timeconsuming process of spreading oil fence line, as required in conventional oil fence device carried by tankers or the like is completely eliminated.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWING FIG. 1 is a schematic plan view of an immersible oil fence assembly according to the present invention;

FIG. 2 is a schematic elevation ofthe oil fence assembly, taken along the length of the oil fence line;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of a buoy, which acts as a connector of adjacent oil fence units each consisting of a tubular float means and an elongated belt member;

FIG. 4 is a schematic elevation of another immersible oil fence assembly, according to the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a sectional view of controllable weight member to be used in the oil fence assembly of FIG. 4;

FIGS. 6A and 6B are diagrammatic illustrations, illustrating disposition of an oil fence assembly for a quay and an offshore mooring buoy, respectively;

FIG. 7 is a schematic view of an oil fence assembly including an immersible terminal buoy, according to the present invention;

FIG. 8 is a schematic view, similar to FIG. 7, illustrating the immersible terminal buoy in the sate as immersed in water;

FIG. 9 is an enlarged view of the immersible terminal buoy and related connections;

FIG. 10 is a schematic plan view of an oil fence assembly forming a closed loop and including two sec tions which are independently immersible, according to the present invention;

FIGS. 11 and 12 are fragmentary perspective views of the oil fence assembly of FIG. 10, illustrating a joint portion and a weight member thereof, respectively; and

FIG. 13 is a diagrammatic illustration of another embodiment of the present invention. I

Like parts are designated by like numerals throughout the drawings.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT The invention will now be described in detail by referring to embodiments, as illustrated in the accompanying drawings.

Referring to FIG. 1, a tanker t is moored to a dolphin d to which a submarine piping P is connected. An immersible oil fence assembly according to the present invention produces an oil fence line A on water surface so as to substantially surround the tanker z. The oil fence line A is formed by a plurality ofoil fence units 1 which are connected by immersible buoys 2. Each immersible buoy 2 is anchored to sea bed by anchors 3, 3' through wire rope means 4. In the embodiment of FIG. I, a pair of ropes 4 are used to connect the immersible buoy 2 to a pair of anchors 3, 3, but it is possible to station the immersible buoy at a predetermined position by one anchor through one piece of rope. The wire rope means 4 can be replaced with any other suitable flexible connecting means, such as a metallic chain. In the preferred embodiment of FIG. 1, the wire rope means 4 for the immersible buoy 2 at each end of the oil fence line A is so disposed as to define an angle of about between the wire rope means 4 and the direction of the oil fence line A. The wire rope means 4 for the buoys at intermediate positions of the oil fence line A are disposed so as to define a right angle between the wire rope means 4 and the direction of the oil fence line A at the buoy 2 to which the specific wire rope means is connected. Such angular disposition of the wire rope means 4 is preferable from the standpoint of maximizing the stability of the oil fence line A against wind and tide load to the oil fence units 1.

Each oil fence unit 1 consists of an elongated flexible belt member 6, e.g., an elongated rubber belt, and a flexible tubular float means 7 extending along the longitudinal center line of the belt member 6. Both the belt member 6 and the tubular float member should be flexible enough to allow the float unit 1 to flex along the profile of water surface. In the illustrated embodiment of the invention, as shown in FIGS. 1 to 3, the tubular float means 7 consists of a pair of flexible tubular floats 7 and 7 secured to the opposite surfaces of the flexible belt member 6. To ensure that the width direction of the elongated belt member 6 is held substantially vertically across the water surface, opposite longitudinal ends of the belt member 6 are secured to the immersible buoys 2 in vertical posture, as shown in FIG. 3. Suitable weight members 5 may be embedded in that longitudinal edge of the belt member 6 which is to be held in water.

Referring to FIG. 2, a permanently floating pilot buoy 9 is disposed in the proximity of that immersible buoy 2 which is connected to one end of the oil fence assembly, and the pilot buoy 9 is connected to the anchor 3 of the end buoy 2 through a separate wire rope means 10. This wire rope means can be a metallic chain, too. In the embodiment of FIG. 2, the wire rope means 10 for the pilot buoy 9 is connected to the wire rope means 4 of the end buoy 2 of the oil fence assembly. The pilot buoy 9 carries an air valve-coupling ll communicating with the end buoy 2 of the oil fence assembly through a flexible air pipe 8. This coupling 11 includes an air valve and controls the air flow into and out of the immersible oil fence assembly, so that the coupling 11 must always be kept above water surface or must be watertightly closed by a suitable lid so as to selectively be opened for the air flow control.

Let it be assumed that the immserible buoys 2 and the tubular float means 7 of the oil fence assembly are deflated and the entire assembly rests on sea bed, as shown by phantom lines in FIG. 2. A lighter 12 carrying an air source, e.g., an air pump or a compressed air tank, berthes the pilot buoy 9 to connect the air source to the air valve-coupling 11 for feeding air into the immersible buoys 2 and the tubular float means 7 of the oil fence assembly, through the flexible air pipe 8. Thereby, the buoys 2 and the float means 7 are inflated, and when the buoyancy acting on them reaches a certain predetermined level, i.e., in excess of the total mass of the oil fence assembly, the entire oil fence assembly moves up to the water surface, so as to define the aforesaid oil fence line A. In this case, the air to be delivered to the oil fence assembly through the air valve-coupling 11 should preferably be pressurized to the extent necessary for overcoming the hydraulic pressure acting on the tubular float means 7 and the immersible buoys 2. i

In the embodiment, as illustrated in FIGS. 1 to 3, it should be noted that the air valve-coupling 11 is provided only at one end of the oil fence assembly. With such arrangement, upon inflation of the tubular float means 7 and the immersible buoys 2, the oil fence assembly may smoothly move to the water surface from the coupling side end thereof, while upon deflation of the float means 7 and the buoys 2, the oil fence assembly smoothly sinks starting from the end opposite to the air valve-coupling l 1. If two or more couplings and two or more valves are provided, air may inadvertently be entrapped at intermediate portions of the tubular float means, so that it becomes difficult to effect smooth sinking of the oil fence assembly.

Instead of being secured to the pilot buoy 9, the air valve-coupling 1 1 for the flexible air pipe 8 may be provide at the dolphin d or a port quay.

If the flexible air pipe 8 is strong enough, the pipe8 itself may serve as a wire rope for connecting the pilot buoy 9 to the anchor 3, so that the separate wire rope means 10 for the pilot buoy may be dispensed with. On the other hand, if the flexible air pipe 8 is not so strong as to hold the pilot buoy 9 by itself, the flexible air pipe 8 should preferably be twined about the wire rope means 4 and 10 to supplement its strength.

Each of the immersible buoys 2 includes an inflatable air bag 14, as shown in FIG. 3. The tubular float means 7 of the adjacent float-units 1 are connected through the air bag of the immersible buoy 2 located therebetween. The flexible air pipe 8 extending from the air valve-coupling 11 carried by the pilot buoy 9 is terminated at the air bag 14 of the end buoy 2 of the oil fence assembly, which air bag 14 acts as the terminal of the tubular float means 7 of the oil fence assembly. If two flexible tubes are used to form the tubular float means 7, as shown in FIG. 2, the immersible buoys 2 located at intermediate portions of the oil fence assembly may have a unitary air bag communicating with the two tubular floats in common or a pair of separate air bags 14 connected to the two tubular floats at opposite sides of the belt member 6, respectively.

FIG. 3 illustrates an immersible buoy having a unitary air bag. The buoy 2 has a perforated casing 13 housing an inflatable air bag 14 made of flexible material, such as rubber. Two tubular fixtures 15 are secured to one side wall of the perforated casing 13 so as to communicate with the inside of the air bag 14, while two other tubular fixtures 16 are secured to the opposite side wall of the perforated casing 13 so as to communicate with the inside of the air bag 14. The two tubular fixtures 15 or 16 may be connected to the two tubular floats 7 and 7' of the corresponding float units 1, respectively. If the tubular float means 7 of each float unit 1 consists of only one tubular float 7, the immersible buoy 2 may have two tubular fixtures, one on each of the opposite walls thereof. In the case of the immersible buoy 2 at either one of the longitudinal ends of the belt member 6, those tubular fixtures which are not used for the float units 1 or the flexible air pipe 8 are airtightly plugged.

An eye-ring 17 is integrally formed with the bottom wall of the perforated casing 13 of the immersible buoy 2, as shown in FIG. 3. One or two wire rope means 4 are swingably connected to the eye-ring 17 for connecting the immersible float 2 to the anchor 3 or anchors 3, 3' associated thereto.

As described in the foregoing, with the immersible oil fence assembly according to the present invention, the oil fence line can easily be sunk under water simply be deflating the tubular float means and the buoys, so as to provide for free navigation of ships above the oil fence assembly thus sunk. When protection of water surface by the oil fence assembly is necessary, it can easily be brought up to the water surface simply by inflating the tubular float means and the immersible buoys.

FIG. 4 shows a modification of the oil fence assembly of FIGS. 1 to 3, in which a controllable weight member is added for ensuring smooth sinking and floating operation. In FIG. 4, a plurality of oil fence units 1 are interconnected by immersible buoys 2 which are connected to anchors 3 through wire ripe means 4. The construction of the immersible buoy 2 and the oil fence unit I is substantially identical with that as described in the foregoing by referring to FIGS. 1 to 3. To inflate and deflate air bags of the buoys 2 and flexible tubular float means 7 of the oil fence units 1, air is forced into or removed from the oil fence assembly through a flexible air pipe 18, in the same manner as the preceding embodiment. A controllable weight member 18 secured to an intermediate point of the wire rope means 4 connecting the far end buoy 2, as seen from the flexible air pipe 8, to the associated anchor 3. In the embodiment of FIG. 4, the controllable weight member 18 consists of an immersible buoy which is substantially identical with the buoy 2 between the adjacent oil fence units 1, except that the controllable weight member 18 does not have any tubular fixture but has a top air passage formed at the top portion of outer housing of the buoy so as to communicate with the inside of an air bag thereof. The immersible end buoy 2, to which the controllable weight member 18 is connected through the wire rope means 4, also has a top air passage 20 similar to that of the controllable weightmember IS. The top air passage 20 of the end buoy 2 is connected to the top air passage 20 of the controllable weight member 18 through a flexible end air hose 19, as shown in FIG. 4.

When the oil fence assembly of this embodiment is afloat on water surface, the controllable weight member 18 is held between the water surface and the ground level below the water, at a position lower than any of the immersible buoys 2 and the oil fence units 1. When it is desired to cause the oil fence assembly of FIG. 4 to sink, the air in the air bags of the immersible buoys 2 and the tubular flexible float means 7 is released through the flexible air pipe 8 by opening a suitable control valve (not shown). It should be noted here that, since the controllable weight member 18 is held at the lowest level of the entire oil fence assembly, the air in the weight member 18 is released at first. Accordingly, the buoyancy acting on the controllable weight member 18 is reduced at first, so that the far end of the oil fence assembly, as seen from the flexible air pipe 8 begins to sink at first, so as to cause an upward slope in the tubular float means 7 from its far end toward the flexible air pipe 8. Such upward slope ensures smooth sinking ofthe entire oil fence assembly, because it eliminates the risk of entrapping air at any intermediate portion of the tubular float means 7 and the immersible buoys 2.

On the other hand, when it is desired to raise the oil fence assembly of FIG. 4 from ground level to the water surface, airis forced into the tubular float means 7 of the oil fence units 1 and the air bags of the immersible buoys 2, through the flexible air pipe 8 by actuating a suitable air source (not shown). It is easier to increase the buoyancy of the oil fence assembly in the proximity of the flexible air pipe 8 that in its far end. because an extra weight member 18 is connected to the far end of the oil fence assembly. Thus, the oil fence assembly begins to float, starting from the side where the flexible air pipe is connected. As a result, :a downward slope is caused from the proximity of the joint to the flexible air pipe 8 toward the far end of the oil fence assembly. This downward slope ensures smooth raising of the oil fence assembly from the ground level to the water sur face. The position of the anchor 3 associated with the far end buoy 2 and the total length of the wire rope means 4 between the end buoy 2 and its associated anchor 3 are so chosen that the controllable weight member 18 never comes above the lowest part of the air bags of the buoys 2 and the tubular float means 7. Consequently, the aforesaid smooth sinking operation is ensured.

As a result of numerous tests, the inventors found that a preferred embodiment of the controllable weight member 18 had an empty weight in. air of about 250 Kg, an air filled weight in sea water of about 30 Kg, and a sea water filled weight in sea water of about 200 Kg. With the embodiment of the aforesaid weight, the preferable depth H of the controllable weight member 18 from the water surface when the oil fence assembly is afloat, as shown in FIG. 4, was found to be about 3 meters to about 5 meters.

FIG. 5 illustrates a bottle-like weight member 18a which can be used as the controllable weight member 18 in the oil fence assembly of FIG. 4. The bottle-like weight member has a flat top wall with an air passage 20 extending through the top wall. The bottom wall of the bottle-like weight member 18 is contracted, so as to form a water passage 21 at the central portion thereof. With simple construction of the bottle-like weight member 18a, as shown in FIG. 5, all the functionsof the controllable weight member 18 of FIG. 4 can be accomplished, as can easily be understood by those skilled in the art. For safety, it is preferable to provide a check valve between the air passage of the bottle-like weight member 18a and the end buoy 2 of FIG. 4, in series with the flexible end hose 19, lest water should enter into the air bags of the immersible buoys 2 and the tubular float means 7.

The use of a controllable weight member has been described by referring to an embodiment related to a linear oil fence assembly, but it is also applicable to an oil fence assembly defining a closed loop. In the case of a loop-defining oil fence assembly, a controllable weight member 18 and a flexible air pipe 8 for feeding and releasing air are preferably located at diametrically opposite parts of the loop definedby an elongated belt member 6 of the oil fence assembly.

FIGS. 6A to 9 illustrate a means for establishing closing contact between one longitudinal end portion of an immersible oil fence assembly and a ship or a quay. Referring to FIG. 6A, a tanker T is berthed to a dolphin d, and it is sometimes desirable to have a closing contact 27 between the end portion of oil fence line A I and the tanker T. Similarly, for certain applications, a closing contact 27 is desirable between oil fence line A and the surface of a quay O, as shown in FIG. 68. It is known that the sea level may vary 2 to 5 meters due to tide alone, and the water line of a large 200,000-ton tanker may vary by 12 to 13 meters by loading and unloading. Accordingly, simple connection of the end portion of an oil fence assembly to the tanker T or quay Q, e.g., by a rope, is not sufficient to ensure the aforesaid closed contact for all water levels and water lines. More particularly, if an end buoy 2 of immersible oil fence assembly is connected to a bitt 22 of tanker T (see FIG. 7) by a rope so as to establish a closed contact between the end portion of the oil fence assembly and the tanker T whenthe tanker is unloaded, then upon loading of the tanker, the water line of the tanker may be lowered by, for instance 12 meters, and the end portion of the oil fence assembly may be drifted away from the tanker T in response to such lowering of the water line, despite the aforesaid rope connection.

Referring to FIGS. 7 and 8, an eye-ring 23 is integrally formed with an end buoy 2 of oil fence assembly, through which a rope 26 is extended. One end of the rope 26 is fastened to the bitt 22 of a tanker T while the opposite end of the rope 26 is connected to an immersible terminal buoy 24. The construction of the terminal buoy 24 is, for instance, similar to the immersible buoy 2, as shown in FIG. 3, except that the buoy 24 is connected only to a felxible hose 25 but not to float means 7. The flexible hose selectively communicates the terminal buoy 24 to the end buoy 2 of the oil fence assembly through a control valve 34, as shown in FIG. 9.

To connect the terminal buoy 24 to the bitt 22 of the tanker T, or the quay Q, an air bag of the terminal buoy is communicated with the air system of the oil fence assembly through the control valve 34, so that the terminal buoy 24 floats, and the rope 26 from the bitt 22 passes through the eye-ring 23 of the end buoy 2 of the oil fence assembly and it is then fastened to the terminal buoy 24. After the rope 26 is thus connected, the air in the terminal buoy 24 is released by turning a rotor R of the control valve 34 to a position as shown in FIG. 9. Thereby, the terminal buoy 24 sinks by loosing its buoyancy, as shown in FIG. 8. The weight of the terminal buoy 24 acts to pull the end buoy to the tanker T or the quay Q, so that a closing contact 27 is established by an end belt member 6a of the oil fence assembly and the tanker T (or quay Q), as shown in FIG. 9.

As apparent from FIG. 8, the terminal buoy 24 moves in water response to the tidal water level variation and the water line variation of the tanker T. Thus, a tight contact 27 is ensured between the end portion of the oil fence assembly and the tanker T or quay Q.

To disconnect the oil fence assembly, the air bag in the terminal buoy 24 is inflated by suitable turning the rotor R of the control valve 34 for the feeding air from the oil fence assembly to the terminal buoy 24 through the air hose 25. Whereby, the terminal buoy 24 floats on the water surface. Accordingly, the rope 26 can be released from the buoy 24, and such releasing operation can be done on water surface.

A preferred example of the terminal buoy 24 weighs 300 Kg in air, and it produces a buoyancy of 400 Kg in water upon evacuation thereof.

FIGS. to 12 illustrate an immersible oil fence assembly having two sections, each section being immersible independently of the other section. Referring to FIG. 10, two tankers T1 and T2 are berthed to a mooring station M having a mooring post 29, and a closed oil fence line A is formed around the two tankers. In order to allow one of the two tankers T] and T2 to leave the mooring station M, it is highly desirable to immerse only one half of the oil fence line A.

The oil fence line A is formed by using the aforesaid oil fence units 1 each having an elongated belt member 6 and tubular float means 7, which units 1 are interconnected by immersible buoys 2 connected to anchors 3 through wire rope means 4. The oil fence line A is looped by connecting opposite ends la and lb together while disposing the central portion 10 of the line A at a diametrically opposite position of the loop, as shown in FIG. 10.

FIG. 11 shows the connection of the opposite ends la and lb of the oil fence line A. A suitable connecting strap 6a is rivetted to the belt members 6 of the two ends la and lb, for completing the closed loop of the elongated belt member 6 for the oil fence line A. The tubular float means 7 at the ends la and lb of the oil fence assembly is blocked by end tubes 7a and 7b. A suitable air source S, e.g., an air pump, is connected to a flexible air pipe 8 through a main air valve 30, and the end tubes 7a and 7b are connected to the flexible air pipe 8 through branch pipes-8a and 8b, respectively. The air flow through the branch pipes 8a and 8b are controlled by branch air valves 31a and 31b mounted on the branch pipes, respectively. When all the branch air valves 31a and 31b are open to allow free air passage therethrough, the floating and immersion of the oil fence line A can be controlled in the same manner as described in the foregoing by referring to FIGS. 1 to 3.

In making the looped oil fence line A, it is desirable to provide a tension member 28, e.g., a nylon rope, along the tubular float means 7, as shown in FIG. 11. The embodiment of FIG. 11 also includes reinforcements 5a embedded in the belt member 6, together with weight members 5.

FIG. 12 shows a weight member 32 connected to the central portion 1c of the oil fence line A. The weight member 32 is mechanically connected to the tubular float means 7 of the oil fence assembly through vertically disposed flexible air pipe means 33. The mass of the weight member 32 is selected to be balanced with or slightly greater than the buoyancy produced by the vertically disposed air pipe means 33.

In operation, upon floating the entire oil fence line A, all the branch air valves 31a and 31b are blocked. When the branch air valves 31a and the main air valve 30 are opened for partially releasing air from the oil fence assembly, the weight member 32 at the central portion 10 begins to sink, and that half of the oil fence line which extends to the end la begins to sink. The reason for it is as follows. The vertically disposed flexible air pipe means 33 is exposed to hydraulic pressure in water, so that upon release of the air the pipe means 33 is at first contracted by the hydraulic pressure. Accordingly, the mass of the weight member 32 surpasses the buoyancy acting on the pipe means 33, so that the weight member 32 sinks at first. Thereafter, those portions of the tubular float means 7 lying between the weight member 32 and the branch valves 31a is contracted by the hydraulic pressure, because air is released therefrom. Such contraction gradually propagates from the central portion 10 to the end portion 1a, because the weight member 32 at the central portion 1c sinks at first. At the moment, the other portion of the oil fence line A, i.e., from the central portion 1c to the end portion lb, stays afloat, although the close proximity of the central portion 10 may partially sinks. More particularly, once the weight member 32 causes central portion 10 to sink, the tubular float means 7 between the central portion lc and the end portion lb is isolated from the opposite half of the oil fence line A, because the tubular float means is contracted by the hydraulic pressure at the central portion 1c and air passage is blocked there. Thus, even if a limited suction is applied to the end portion la, that half of the oil fence line A which lies between the central portion 1c and the end portion lb stays afloat.

It is apparent that similar selective immersion can be applied to the opposite half of the oil fence line A, simply by opening the branch air valves 31b and the main air valve 30, while keeping the branch air valves 31a as blocked.

After either half of the oil fence line A is thus sunk, one of the tankers T1 and T2 can move above the oil fence portion thus sunk.

It should be noted that such partial immersion of the oil fence line can be accomplished even if the oil fence line A is not looped but opened, as long as air valves are provided at the opposite ends of the oil fence line.

FIG. 13 shows another embodiment of the present invention. In this embodiment, the immersible buoys 2 of FIGS. 1 to 3 are replaced with a buoyancy generating means each has a construction similar to the oil fence unit 1. More particularly, each of the buoyancy generating means of FIG. 13 comprises a flexible belt member 2d similar to the belt member 6 of the unit 1 and one or two inflatable tubes 2a secured to the belt member 2d at one or two opposing surfaces thereof by strap members 2!). The strap member 2b may be rivetted to the belt member 2d. The diameter of the inflatable tube 2a is considerably greater than that of the tubular float means 7, because the former is required to generate a buoyancy large enough for floating both the buoyancy generating means itself and a wire rope means 4 anchoring the buoyancy generating means to sea bed. In the embodiment of FIG. 13, the wire rope means 4 is connected to the buoyancy generating means at an eye-ring 20 provided at the aforesaid strap 2!). The opposite end of the wire rope means is connected to a heavy concrete block 3a sitting on the sea bed. The wire rope means 4 of the embodiment includes chains at a part thereof.

The embodiment of FIG. 13 further includes a solid weight member 32 connected to that buoyancy generating means which is located at the non-ar-supply end of the oil fence line A. The weight member 32 is hang from the oil fence line A by an inflatable tube 33 communicating with the inflatable tube 20 of said buoyancy generating means located at said end of the oil fence line A. The construction and operation of the weight member 32 and the inflatable tube 33 of FIG. 13 are essentially identical with those of similarly numbered weight member and inflatable tube in the embodiment of FIGS. I1 and 12. Accordingly, the solid weight member 32 ensures smooth sinking and floating of the oil fence assembly.

Salient features of the present invention can be summarized as follows.

l. A highly effective oil fence assembly having an elongated belt member, which belt member can extends above water level by a considerably large extent for ensuring effective blocking of floating drifts, can selectively be immersed by simple air valve operation, for allowing ship navigation above the oil fence assembly thus sunk. l

2. The formation andremoval of the oil fence line can be carried out very quickly.

3. With the use of a looped oil fence line or an immersible terminal buoy, complete blocking of oil or other floating drifts is ensured.

4. The drifting of the oil fence line itself due to wind or tide can be prevented by anchoring the immersible buoys of the oil fence assembly.

5. Partial immersion of the oil fence line is possible.

What is claimed is: I

1. An immersible oil fence assembly, comprising a plurality of oil fence units having an elongated flexible belt member and a tubular float means secured to the belt member so as to extend along the longitudinal center line of the belt member, a plurality of immersible buoyancy generating means having an inflatable air container disposed therein, said oil fence units and said buoyancy generating means being alternately connected while joining said tubular float means of adjacent ones of said oil fence units to said air container of the buoyancy generating means located therebetween, so as to form an oil fence line, anchors stationed on the ground level, wire rope means connecting each of said anchors to corresponding one of said immersible buoyancy generating means, respectively, said wire rope means being long enough to cause the buoyancy generating means to float on water surface, a blocking means airtightly blocking said tubular float means at one end of said oil fence line, a flexible air hose connected to the opposite end of said oil fence line, and an air valve means connected to said air hose and selectively feed ing and releasing air into and out of said tubular float means and said air container of the buoyancy generating means.

2. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein each said buoyancy generating means is an immersible buoy having an inflatable air bag surrounded by a perforated shell.

3. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1, wherein each said buoyancy generating means is a second oil fence unit consisting of a second belt member aligned with said belt member of said oil fence unit, an inflatable second tubular float means aligned with the tubular float means of said oil fence unit and having a diameter larger than that of saidtubular float means of the oil fence unit, and a metallic strap means integrally bonding said second tubular float means to said second belt member.

4. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1 and further comprising a pilot float means anchored to ground level through a wire rope means so as to float on water surface substantially at a constant location, said air valve means being mounted on said pilot buoy.

5. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1 and further comprising a controllable weight member secured to the wire rope means connecting the blocked side end buoyancy generating means to the anchor associated with said end buoyancy generating means at an intermediateposition between said end buoy and said associated anchor, said controllable weight member having an inflatable air chamber, and a flexible air hose connecting air container of said end buoyancy generating meansto said air chamber of said controllable weight member, the connecting position of said controllable weight member to said wire rope means being such that said controllable weight member is always kept below water level.

6. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 5, wherein said controllable weight member is an immersible buoy having an inflatable bag surrounded by a perforated shell.

7. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1 and further comprising an immersible terminal buoy having an inflatable air bag, a contact belt member extending from one end of said oil fence line, a rope guide means secured to said oil fence assembly in the proximity of said contact belt member, a rope means extending from a wall to which said contact belt member is to engage said terminal buoy through said rope guide means, a flexible air hose connecting said inflatable air bag of said terminal buoy to one of said immersible buoyancy generating means of the oil fence assembly, and an air valve means controlling air flow through the last mentioned air hose for regulating the buoyancy of said terminal buoy, whereby upon immersion of said terminal buoy, said rope means acts on said rope guide means so as to force said contact belt member to always engage said wall for terminating said oil fence line at the wall.

8. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 7, wherein said terminal buoy is an immersible buoy having an inflatable air bag surrounded by a perforated shell.

9. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1 and further comprising a central weight member located at the central portion of the oil fence line, a contractible hose means connecting said central weight member to said tubular float means at about the center of said oil fence line, said contractible hose means communicating with said tubular float means, an additional air valve means connected to said blocked end of said oil fence line in communication of said tubular float means, whereby upon opening one of the two air valve means connected to the opposite ends of the oil fence line, that half of the oil fence line'lying between the valve thus opened and said central weight is immersed.

10. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 9, wherein the opposite ends of the oil fence line are mechanically bonded together to form a closed loop.

11. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 5, wherein said controllable weight member consists of a solid weight member and an inflatable hose section, which hose section is sealingly secured to said solid weight at one end thereof and communicates with said tubular float means at the opposite end thereof, the inner volume of said hose section when inflated by filling air therein being large enough to generate such a buoyancy which causes the solid weight member to leave the ground level under water.

12. An immersible oil fence assembly according to claim 1 and further comprising a solid weight member integrally secured to said blocking means and an inflatable hose section having one end thereof communicating with said tubular float means, said inflatable hose section holding said solid weight member at the opposite end thereof so as to hang said weight member from said blocked end of said oil fence line.

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Referenced by
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US3839870 *Jan 21, 1974Oct 8, 1974M RyanOff-shore oil well leakage confiner
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Classifications
U.S. Classification405/64, 405/68
International ClassificationE02B15/04, E02B15/06
Cooperative ClassificationE02B15/0835, E02B15/08, E02B15/0828, E02B15/0864, E02B15/0814
European ClassificationE02B15/08, E02B15/08F, E02B15/08J2, E02B15/08E, E02B15/08C