An increasing number of offshore installations are in the life extension stage of life, resulting in a growing concern among structural engineers about ageing related issues. However, structural engineers are often asked if there is experience of any ageing accidents or if there are examples of such. A safety conscious person would then reply that theory points towards a growing failure rate and hence that ageing accidents will eventually occur. Good engineering practice would then imply that there is no point in waiting for the accident to occur. As responsible engineers we should investigate the hazards and avoid accidents without having to wait for a potentially fatal accident to lead to action. The other possible answer is to question the term “ageing accident”. What is the definition of an “ageing accident”? This paper will investigate into the term “ageing accident” and will propose a definition of this term. Further, this paper will describe some examples of ageing accidents, in particular the many structural failures that have occurred in the Gulf of Mexico hurricanes.

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