The first phase of the Chain FEARS (Finite Element Analysis of Residual Strength) Joint Industry Project (JIP) aimed to develop guidance for the determination of a rational discard criteria for mooring chains subject to severe pitting corrosion which, based on current code requirements, 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 large collection of fatigue test data was collated for comparison and to establish underlying trends in as-new mooring chain fatigue response, and a non-linear multi-axial Finite Element Analysis (FEA) fatigue assessment method was developed to correlate against available as-new chain link fatigue test data and underlying failure trends [1,2] as part of the JIP achieving this critical requirement.
This study sought through collation and review of available fatigue test data to:
• Identify relationships between chain fatigue performance and the key input parameters of chain type, grade and environmental conditions.
• Compare and validate the fatigue test data against the current Code formulations for chain fatigue endurance.
• Determine chain nominal stress S-N fatigue endurance curves against which to validate a numerical model developed as part of the Chain FEARS JIP for the assessment of as-new chain link fatigue endurance.
The collated fatigue data was separated into groups associated with offshore mooring chain type (i.e. stud and studless), grade (i.e. ORQ, R3, R4 and R5) and environmental conditions (i.e. free corrosion in seawater and in-air) for review.
Good correlation occurred between the two standard deviation lower bound of the mean curves and current Code formulation design curves. The mean curves of the collated fatigue test data were considered representative of the overall fatigue performance of chain links and as such formed a good basis for subsequent development and the validation of an FEA model for the assessment of chain fatigue endurance [1,2].