Chevron Corporation and Bluewater Energy Services performed a chain out-of-plane bending (OPB) test campaign, called OPB MAX hereafter, at DNV’s laboratory in Høvik-Norway. The test was performed to study the OPB phenomenon for a chain diameter which was larger than the maximum diameter tested by the OPB JIP [12]. The goal was to understand chain OPB physics for such a large diameter, measure interlink stiffness and maximum sliding moments and validate Bluewater’s in-house finite element model. The current study is a collaboration between all involved parties and the results are presented in three papers. The first paper, Barros et al. [1], summarized the test setup, initial observations and the assumptions used in the post-processing. The current paper describes some of the test results, compares them with the OPB JIP estimations and describes the observed chain OPB physics. The third and the last paper will present the FEA results done by Bluewater’s in-house finite element model.

Two seven-link chain specimens of R4 and R4S grades, both with the nominal diameter of 168 mm were tested. Five tension levels of 150, 200, 250, 300 and 350 t were used throughout the tests. Chain sliding was performed in both wet and dry conditions. Twenty strain gauges were attached to five links of each specimen except for the two end-links to measure three OPB and two IPB moments at mid-link. Twelve strain gauge rosettes were used on three links to evaluate SCF on the OPB hotspots. Seven inclinometers were used to monitor link rotations. DNV’s ARAMIS image processing tool was utilized to capture chain movements. A handheld temperature sensor gun monitored the interlink area’s temperature.

Interlink stiffness was measured at both ends of each specimen and four intermediate links. Several sensitivity studies were conducted to investigate the effect of loading speed, initial interlink angle and acquisition frequency. The interlink stiffness values that were initially found based on tests at small interlink angles (±0.2 °) were quite consistent and repeatable. Further tests that were performed at large interlink angles (±2.5 °) showed that interlink moment vs. angle hysteresis changes over time and is not unique. This was attributed to deformations observed at the interlink areas that had happened during the tests. The mentioned deformations directly influenced the hysteresis and the associated interlink stiffness values. The nature of deformations and stiffness variations was different during dry and wet tests at large angles. Furthermore, the interlink stiffness values measured on the R4S specimen were quite close to R4 results.

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