In a span of just eight months in 2011, Versabar engineered, fabricated, tested, and deployed a new underwater lift device named “The Claw.” Prompted by an offshore operator to develop a solution that would minimize diver exposure during salvage operations, the Claw was designed to retrieve topsides from the sea floor with minimal subsea preparation. The two identical grappling devices measure 122′ tall, 112′ wide, and weigh 1,000 tons a piece. Controlled by the VB 10,000 lift system, 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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