Vessel with a retractable thruster assembly

  • US 8,845,370 B2
  • Filed: 09/14/2010
  • Issued: 09/30/2014
  • Est. Priority Date: 09/14/2009
  • Status: Active Grant
First Claim
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1. A vessel with a retractable thruster assembly, the vessel comprising a hull, a vertical thruster well within the hull, said thruster well having a bottom opening in a bottom plane of the hull,the vessel further comprising a retractable thruster assembly,wherein the thruster assembly comprises:

  • a thruster head with a propeller,a casing structure vertically guided in the thruster well, the casing structure having a lower end portion to which the thruster head is mounted such that the thruster head extends below the casing structure, the casing structure including a watertight compartment, a motor being housed in said compartment,wherein the thruster assembly is vertically displaceable between an extended position, in which the thruster head projects downward beyond the bottom plane of the hull, and a retracted position, in which the thruster assembly is raised and the thruster head is received within the thruster well,the vessel further comprising a retraction device for vertical displacement of the thruster assembly between said extended position and said retracted position,wherein an annular gap is present between the lower end portion of the casing structure and a surrounding lower seal face portion of the thruster well that surrounds the lower end portion of the casing structure when the thruster assembly is in said extended position,wherein a first sealing device is provided at the lower end portion of the casing structure of the thruster assembly, said first sealing device comprising one or more circumferential sealing members extending around the lower end portion of the casing structure, said one or more circumferential sealing members of said first sealing device being expandable circumferential sealing members, wherein the first sealing device comprises an expansion arrangement configured to cause expansion of the expandable circumferential sealing members of said first sealing device to seal the annular gap by sealingly engaging the surrounding lower seal face portion of the thruster well when the thruster assembly is in said extended position,wherein the lower end portion of the casing structure further includes a circumferential seal face below the one or more circumferential sealing members of the first sealing device,and wherein a second sealing device is mounted in the thruster well, spaced a vertical distance above the lower seal face portion of the thruster well, said second sealing device comprising one or more circumferential sealing members extending along an inner circumference of the thruster well, said one or more circumferential sealing members of said second sealing device being expandable circumferential sealing members, wherein the second sealing device comprises an expansion arrangement configured to cause expansion of the expandable circumferential sealing members of said second sealing device to seal the annular gap by sealingly engaging the circumferential seal face portion of the lower end portion of the casing structure when the thruster assembly is in said retracted position, so thatin said retracted position the thruster assembly is raised with said one or more circumferential sealing members of the first sealing device above the level of the second sealing device, thereby allowing access to the one or more circumferential sealing members of the first sealing device for inspection and maintenance, and so that with the thruster assembly in said extended position the one or more circumferential sealing members of the second sealing device are accessible for inspection and-maintenance.

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