Catastrophe In The Heart Of The Sea
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by gCaptain in 2016 and is being republished now because it’s lessons are timeless and possibly more relevant in 2022 as today’s ships...
The Versabar heavy lift vessel, the VB 10,000, was built in a span of 12 months and launched in October 2010 from Gulf Marine Fabricators in Ingleside, Texas. With a rated lift capacity of 7,500 tons, the VB 10,000 is the largest lift vessel ever built in the United States.
The VB 10,000 consists of two 240′ tall lift gantries joined to twin 300′ by 72′ barges to form a catamaran. The gantries are connected to the barges by patented articulated pins which decouple barge motion from the gantries. The vessel is equipped with a Class 3 DP system consisting of four 1,000 HP thrusters in each barge which enable it to maneuver on site and hold station in any water depth over 35 feet. The VB 10,000’s four 2,000-ton heavy lift blocks are paired with custom-engineered 400-ton hydraulic winches which may be operated independently or in a synchronized manner.
In 2011, Versabar engineered, fabricated, tested, and deployed a new underwater lift device named “The Claw”, as an add-on to the VB 10,000 heavy lift vessel.
Controlled by the VB 10,000 lift system, the two identical grappling devices measure 122′ tall, 112′ wide, and weigh 1,000 tons a piece. Each set of massive steel jaws operates independently, but for larger loads, can be used in tandem for a double claw lift. Custom-engineered baskets, or “cradles” were built to use in conjunction with the Claw.
The cradles are lowered to the sea floor adjacent to sunken platforms, where they will serve as a base upon which the fragile topsides can be lifted to the surface. Once the Claw scoops up the damaged topside and deposits it on the cradle, the entire lift package is brought to the surface, placing no further stress on the topside. The cradles were designed with the flexibility of being lifted either by the Claw itself, or by using a rigging setup consisting of two specially-designed pipes. The versatility of the Claw’s design allows for customization according to each lift project, resulting in quick, efficient recovery.
The Claw received the OTC Spotlight on New Technology Award in 2012.
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