Deep Down Awarded Patent For Subsea J-Plate Design

May 2009 Vol. 236 No. 5

Deep Down Inc. has been awarded a U.S. patent on an apparatus for installing a subsea umbilical.

Traditional installation of an undersea umbilical involves a J-plate on the termination end of the umbilical which includes center-locking mechanisms such as drive screws, collet connectors or tri-locks, located on the J-plate. These mechanisms are expensive and complicated. Deep Down has designed a simpler J-plate installation procedure using a ROV manipulator-held running tool called the flying-lead-installation-running-tool (FLIRT).

The newly patented design eliminates the damage-prone acme screw thread and collet locking mechanisms and associated mechanical override systems of traditional J-plates. Company officials say the ROV-enabled locking mechanism in Deep Down’s J-plate yields significant cost savings compared to traditional designs.

The new design has interconnectivity with all manufacturers of umbilical and subsea distribution systems. This makes subsea reconfiguration possible without retrieving the flying lead. This is accomplished by inserting an intermediate plate between the inboard and outboard J-plates. In addition to significant savings for the cost of the company’s new J-plates, Deep Down management believes its customers can experience a reduction in installation time for J-plate connections of up to 50%.