The Chain Finite Element Analysis of Residual Strength Joint Industry Project (Chain FEARS JIP) aimed to develop guidance for the determination of a rational discard criteria for mooring chains subject to severe pitting corrosion which would otherwise require immediate removal and replacement.
Critical to the ability to evaluate the residual fatigue life of a degraded chain, is to have an accurate estimate of the chain in its as-new condition, thereby providing a benchmark for any loss in fatigue life associated with severe corrosion or wear. A non-linear multi-axial Finite Element Analysis (FEA) fatigue assessment method was developed and correlated against available fatigue test data as part of the JIP achieving this critical requirement.
The development of this correlated methodology necessitated a review of:
- The available mooring chain fatigue test data, to identify the factors influencing chain fatigue life and failure location.
- FEA fatigue methodologies currently employed in the industry.
- Current Class Rules relating to fatigue estimation.
- The influence of material, manufacturing and operational factors on chain fatigue life.
It was established that while the linear FEA fatigue method currently employed in the industry does not correlate with the fatigue test data, the non-linear multi-axial FEA fatigue method developed in the JIP afforded good correlation with test data.
It was also demonstrated that the magnitude of mean chain tension and inconsistency in proof loading, as a consequence of the inconsistency in Class Minimum Break Load (MBL) specification, and with respect to chain size and the varying material ductility of steel grades, effects fatigue life.
The identified inconsistency in the proofing indicates a likely inconsistency in conservatism embodied in the Class Rules fatigue formulation. Consequently it is possible that chains of certain size and grade may have significantly less fatigue life than anticipated by Class.
Further work is recommended to establish a more rational proof load specification and to develop an alternative Class Rules fatigue formulation accounting for the identified factors influencing fatigue.