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Underwater trenching system

InactiveUS6022173Ahigh reliability
A self-guided system for trenching water bottoms for the installation of a pipeline. The preferred embodiment of the present invention teaches a system which is configured to be mounted about the pipeline to be buried, and which further contemplates a uniquely configured, forward mounted trenching/drive mechanism incorporating a cutter wheel generally about the width of the desired trench, the mechanism configured to propel the system as well as trench the desired area. An alternative embodiment of the contemplates a frontal high pressure jet array in lieu of the cutter head. The trenching/drive mechanism of the preferred embodiment of the present invention further includes a high pressure spray array mounted about the frontal cutter wheel area, and a suction/mud pump assembly to the rear of the cutter wheel. The high pressure spray array provides the dual purpose function of loosening the area to be trenched, as well as cleaning and removing the trenched matter from the cutter wheel. The present invention further includes first and second buoyancy chambers which are configured to be uniformly lowered to the lower periphery of the unit frame, to provide skids for utilization of the present system in shallow water. An alternative embodiment of the present invention teaches the incorporation of a framed system similar to that as taught in the present invention, but without the trenching/drive mechanism, and with the addition of a pipe cutter mounted to the rear of the unit frame, for utilization of pipeline recovery and dismemberment operations. Other features of the present invention which are taught, and which may be implemented, include G.P.S. (global positioning system) receiver/data transmission for precise monitoring of the system during operations, thruster propulsion, and bottom loading of pipe into the frame via hinged bottom rollers, which may be powered.
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