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OTC 21291

Offshore Monitoring Campaign on Installation of Suction Piles in Deep


Water Fields
J.P. de Vries, J. van Drunen, R. van Dijk and R. Zoontjes, Heerema Marine Contractors

Copyright 2011, Offshore Technology Conference


This paper was prepared for presentation at the Offshore Technology Conference held in Houston, Texas, USA, 25 May 2011.
This paper was selected for presentation by an OTC program committee following review of information contained in an abstract submitted by the author(s). Contents of the paper have not been
reviewed by the Offshore Technology Conference and are subject to correction by the author(s). The material does not necessarily reflect any position of the Offshore Technology Conference, its
officers, or members. Electronic reproduction, distribution, or storage of any part of this paper without the written consent of the Offshore Technology Conference is prohibited. Permission to
reproduce in print is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words; illustrations may not be copied. The abstract must contain conspicuous acknowledgment of OTC copyright.

Abstract
Within the offshore industry Heerema Marine Contractors (HMC) is known for the semi-submersible crane vessels able to
install offshore structures up to 14,000t. Over the last years HMC has also proven to be a leading player in the ultra deep
water construction market by setting world records on installation of heaviest structures at the greatest water depths using the
Deepwater Construction Vessel (DCV) Balder and Semi-Submersible Crane Vessel (SSCV) Thialf. The installed deepwater
subsea structures include flowlines completed with flowline end structures, manifolds and risers. Due to the large lift capacity
of the DCV Balder, Heerema Marine Contractors is ready to install these structures in deep water fields up to 3500m. For
deployment of structures multiple steel wire hoist arrangements such as the Balders deepwater crane hoist arrangement,
mooring line deployment winch or the support vessel hoist wire are available. Some typical examples of deepwater structure
installations performed are shown in figure 1 and 2.

Figure 1: Statoil: Asgard - 1998 / 1999


Export Riser Base
700t in 305m water depth

Figure 2: Norsk Hydro: Ormen Lange 2005


Foundation Bottom Structure with Manifold
1,150t in 850m water depth

Because HMC is operating in deep and ultra deep water for more than 10 years, HMC is specialized in coping with the
challenges coming along with installing in frontier deep water. Figure 3 is showing the track record on weight of installed
subsea structures versus water depths.

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Deep
Water

2,500

Ultra Deep
Water

Structure Weight [t]

2,000

1,500

1,000

500

500

1,000

1,500

2,000

2,500

3,000

3,500

Water depth [m]

Figure 3: HMC track record showing the weight of the subsea structures versus installation water depth since 1996

The challenge of installing subsea structures within the acceptable installation limits increases in magnitude when installing
in deeper water. In deeper water the lowering system migrates from stiff to a softer system due to the reduced stiffness of the
hoist system together with the typically large added mass of the subsea structure. The reduction in stiffness is a result of the
increased length of the hoist wires. The natural frequencies of the lowering arrangement may in this case coincide with the
wave frequencies and vessel response frequencies resulting in unfavorable resonant behavior of the subsea structure. This
resonant behavior during heavy structure installation typically occurs in deep water. A relatively small vessel may amplify
the resonant response by its larger motions.
Numerical models should capture this dynamic behavior in order to accurately determine the operability limits of subsea
structure installation in deep water. A monitoring campaign was performed to confirm the applicability of these models and
the model input.
This paper describes the monitoring campaign on a typical example of a deep water lowering operation. Two suction piles
have been installed in 2700m water depth using a support vessel. The equipment set-up used to monitor the subsea behavior
of the suction piles and the monitoring results are presented. The monitoring results are compared with HMCs in-house
numerical models used for the dynamic analysis and workability predictions. The paper is concluded with a discussion on the
verification of the dynamic models.
The results of the offshore monitoring campaign show a good agreement with the numerical models. This yields to the
conclusion that dynamic analysis methods are able to accurately predict the motions and load fluctuations for structure
installation in deepwater, making it possible to optimally utilize the capacity of the equipment and the available weather
windows to perform the operation.

Introduction
When installing subsea structures the overall stiffness of a steel wire hoist system reduces with increasing water depth.
Combined with the usually large added mass of subsea structures, this results in a natural period of the lowering system
within the wave periods range. This typically occurs in deep and ultra deep water, for which the water depth is defined as
larger than 1,000ft (305m) and 5,000ft (1,524m) respectively. In figure 4 and 5 the wire stiffness and the system natural
period are plotted for increasing hoist wire length (i.e. installation water depth) for a 250t subsea structure lowered with a 3"
diameter steel wire.

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Tn / L
10

4000

Natural Period - Tn [s]

Stiffness - k [kN/m]

k /L
5000

3000

2000

1000

500

1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500

Wire length - L [m ]

Figure 4: Wire stiffness versus wire length

500

1000 1500

2000

2500 3000 3500

Wire length - L [m ]

Figure 5: Natural period versus wire length

A soft lowering system could result in unfavourable resonant behavior of the subsea structure when the natural period of the
soft lowering system coincides with the vessel response periods of the installation vessel. The heave and pitch response
periods of small support vessels are typically in between 6 and 9 seconds. Resonance results in high dynamic loads in the
hoist arrangement and large motions of the suspended structure. High load fluctuations will be an issue in either case the
weight of the subsea structure is close to the maximum safe working limit of the hoist wire or the subsea structure is light and
high load fluctuations result in slack rigging.
Besides the large load fluctuations a lowering system in resonance will also show large structure heave motions. These large
motions may affect the installation as the subsea structure approaches the seabed. A summation of examples of how large
heave motions hinder subsea operations is listed below:
Damage to subsea structure due to high docking loads when for example a manifold is installed on top of a suction
anchor or a spool on a manifold;
Unfavourable soil disturbance when installing a suction pile or mud mat resulting in a reduced holding capacity;
Damage to remotely operated vehicle (ROV) or structure due to uncontrolled large motion of the structure when
docking the ROV to confirm and / or control position and orientation of the subsea structure.
In order to avoid unfavourable resonant behavior during offshore operations, the dynamics of the lowering system should be
assessed and the installation workability evaluated for critical deepwater installations. It is standard practice within HMC to
perform these detailed dynamic lowering analyses for deepwater installations in the project preparation phase. The analysis
should confirm installability of the structure at the prescribed water depth in the occurring environmental conditions.
If resonant behavior is expected to occur measures could be taken to improve installability. Some examples of measures
widely adopted in the offshore industry are listed below:
Use of active or passive heave compensation;
Reduce the allowable weather conditions for the operations (reducing operability);
Change properties of hoist arrangement (e.g. reeving of hoist arrangement, diameter or material of hoist wire);
Consider optimized installation vessel (better motion characteristics for a particular area);
Change design of subsea structure.
If the dynamic behavior can be accurately predicted, the necessity to apply conservative assumptions is eliminated. This may
result in the above measures being scaled back or eliminated, which is a cost saving.
In addition to performing dynamic analysis, verification is required to confirm applicability and reliability of the models for
the installation at hand. HMC conducted a full scale deepwater lowering monitoring campaign to verify the in-house
numerical models.

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State of the art in Deepwater Lowering Analysis


In the past effort has been put in obtaining confirmation on system dynamics of subsea structures like suction piles. Besides
the dynamic behavior, the hydrodynamic properties were investigated in detail and in particular the added mass and damping.
The methods used to investigate the dynamics of the lowering system were scale model basin tests and Computation Fluid
Dynamics (CFD) analyses.
Roe et al. and Ireland et al. have performed model test series to obtain added mass and damping of a suction can in mid-water
[1] and in close proximity of sea bottom [2] conditions. The influence of motion amplitude and period on the heave added
mass and damping of the suction pile for various hatch openings was investigated. The results have been verified and
confirmed with CFD analysis performed by Zoontjes et al. [3].
Both scale model test series and CFD analyses proved to be an effective method to determine the hydrodynamic properties
such as added mass and damping. However, both methods have their limitations:

Scale model tests;


In scale model tests the dimensionless hydrodynamic properties of the structure are determined. These
dimensionless hydrodynamic properties can be scaled up to full scale dimensions. The results from scale model tests
are subject to discussion due to the scaling effects in the modeled fluid pattern.

CFD analyses.
In case CFD analyses are conducted to determine the hydrodynamic properties extensive validation is required.
Before the hydrodynamic properties of similar structures can be approximated, the CFD results have to be tuned for
a base structure.

Full scale measurements are suitable to complement the limitations of CFD analyses and scale model tests. However,
conducting full scale tests has its own limitations and is not always successful. The following conditions make executing full
scale measurements a challenge:

Usage of monitoring equipment in offshore environment;

Measurements on real time structure installation greatly reduce the number of test opportunities and requires careful
planning.

The possibility to assess the behavior of the hoist wire is one of the opportunities a full scale monitoring campaign on a
subsea structure installation offers. The following dynamic wire behavior or properties are of specific interest:

Wire stiffness;
Various recommended practices from well-established class societies are available to determine the quasi-static
stiffness of a steel hoist wire. The scatter on the approximated stiffness is large. On top of this the strand
construction of the wire affects the wire stiffness. Furthermore, it is well known within the industry that the dynamic
stiffness of hoist wire differs from the quasi-static stiffness [4].

Weight distribution;
The weight of the hoist wire needs to be properly distributed over its length in the numerical model. Proper weight
modeling is required, because the weight of the steel wire hoist arrangement is in the order of magnitude of the
structure weight.

Wire damping.
The wire damping is present and the contribution to the system damping can be assessed. In the numerical models
the wire damping is usually lumped to the structure damping.

Note that in the scale model basin tests the hoist wire was modeled by a spring with prescribed stiffness. An offshore
monitoring campaign offers the opportunity to confirm the dynamic wire properties for various motion responses.

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Theory
The heave response of the lowering system can be decoupled from the other motions and described with Newtons 2nd law of
motion:
..

(m + m A ) x = Fexternal = F cos t b x kx
In which:
m
=
=
mA
Fexternal =
F
=

=
b
=
k
=

(1)

Dry mass of the suction pile


Added mass of the suction pile
External force
Amplitude of oscillation force on the suction pile
Angular frequency of the force on the suction pile
Damping coefficient of the suction pile
Spring stiffness of the hoist wire

The heave response is characterized by the spring stiffness of the hoist wire (k), the natural angular frequency of the heave
response (n) and the linear damping ratio (BE).

k=

EA
Lwire

n =
BE =

(2a)

k
m + mA

(2b)

b
2 k (m + mA )

In which:
E
=
A
=
=
Lwire

(2c)

Youngs modulus of the hoist wire material


Effective hoist wire cross section area
Length of the hoist wire

None off the characteristics defined in equation 2 can be determined accurately without performing either scale model tests,
CFD analyses or full scale measurements. The damping coefficient and the added mass are dependent on the shape of the
structure and the motion response of the structure. While the hoist wire stiffness depends on the wire properties and the
dynamic loading condition of the hoist wire. Following the approach of Roe [1] and Zoontjes [3] the added mass is expressed
in the non-dimensional coefficient (CA) with the equation:

CA =

mA
D 2 H
1
4

In which:

=
D
=
H
=

(3)

Density of seawater
Diameter of the suction pile
Height of the suction pile

In the scale model tests [1] and [2] and the CFD analysis [3], the modeled excitation force on the lowering arrangement are
predetermined. The amplitude and frequency of excitation force are preset and the motion of the suction pile model was
simulated. From the simulated motion the hydrodynamic properties were approximated.
In the full scale measurements the excitation force is induced by the support vessel motions. Because the vessel was exposed
to a real wave environment, the vessel motion response is a motion spectrum. This motion spectrum is a summation of
harmonic motions with a range of amplitudes and frequencies. The behavior of the dynamic system is captured in the
schematic overview in figure 6. The schematic overview shows the complete dynamic system from sea-states, support vessel
motions to subsea structure response.

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Cross Coupling

Sxx

Syy
RAO: waves
Vessel crane tip

Wave
Spectrum

^2

RAO: vessel crane


tip
structure

^2

Structure
Response

Figure 6: Schematic overview of the frequency domain dynamics of the lowering system

The motion response of the subsea structure is initiated by the response of the support vessel in waves. However, the support
vessel is also affected by the dynamic behavior of the suction pile. This is called cross-coupling. Cross-coupling could have a
positive effect on the operability of the installation. Subsea structures may act like a heave plate reducing the vessel motions.
The reduction in vessel motions again will reduce the motions of the subsea structure.
For the in-house approximation of operability limits and workability assessments the complete dynamic system of figure 6
will be considered. The wave environment affects the motions of the support vessel, which on her turn excites the subsea
structure through the hoist wire. For the occurring sea-states the predicted subsea structure responses are compared with the
allowable. The workability can be expressed as the percentage of occurring sea-states in which the dynamic structure
response is within the allowable response limits.
To perform the operability assessments HMC developed the in-house software LiftDyn. LiftDyn is a multi-body frequency
domain analysis computer program able to compute the dynamic response characteristics of lift systems involving a large
number of rigid bodies.
The LiftDyn model considers the frequency dependent hydrodynamic properties of the installation vessel, the hydrodynamic
properties of the subsea structure and the stiffness and mass properties of the hoisting system. Figure 7 shows the graphical
representation of the models of a subsea structure installation using a support vessel and crane vessel.

LiftDyn visual representation of example LiftDyn models


Figure 7a: Support vessel installing 60t suction pile

Figure 7b: One of HMCs cane vessels installing 800t subsea


structure

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The dynamic behavior of the vessel in seas is not covered in this paper and is considered to be given fact. The structure
response is isolated from the vessel response by determining the response amplitude operator (RAO) between the support
vessel stern or crane tip and the submerged structure (equation 4). A schematic overview of the responses and RAOs of the
lowering system is shown in figure 6.
The RAO of the hoist wire between the structure and the support vessel stern is determined with the following equation:

RAO =

Syy
Sxx

(4)

In which:
Syy = Output spectrum, suction pile response spectrum or winch force response spectrum
Sxx = Input spectrum, support vessel response spectrum

Offshore monitoring campaign


Early 2009 the DCV Balder installed two 16"/12" pipe-in-pipe flow lines at approximately 2700m. Prior to flowline
installation two suction piles were installed to act as pipeline initiation anchors. These suction piles were installed with a
support vessel and a monitoring campaign was performed on their installation. The performed monitoring campaign on this
deepwater installation consisted of measuring the motions of the suction pile and the support vessel. Also the load
fluctuations in the hoist wire were measured. Figure 8 shows the suction pile on support vessel deck.

Figure 8: Suction pile on board the support vessel

The full scale monitoring campaign focuses on the dynamic behavior of the lowering arrangement in agreement with the
approach of scale model tests [2] and [3] and the CFD analysis [4]. The results of the offshore monitoring campaign cannot
directly be compared with the results of the studies performed by Roe and Zoontjes. The diameter-height ratio (D/H) of the
offshore installed suction pile is approximately 5 times smaller than the suction can studied by Roe and Zoontjes. However,
an approach similar to Zoontjes was used to estimate the hydrodynamic properties of the the suction pile.
The lowering system is expected to behave as a damped mass spring system. The properties dominating the dynamics of the
lowering arrangement are:
(Dry) weight of structure;
Hydrodynamic properties of structure; added mass and damping;
Stiffness of hoist arrangement.
Approximation of in particular the hydrodynamic properties of a subsea structure can be a challenge and often requires use of
model tests and CFD analyses. It even becomes more challenging for more complex shaped structures. Therefore the
lowering of the suction pile was selected to verify the analysis method due to the relatively simple shape of the suction pile
and availability of reference data based on model tests and CFD analyses.

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In addition to the already available reference data, dedicated CFD analyses were performed for the pipeline initiation piles.
Figure 9 and 10 show graphical output from these CFD analyses. Figure 9 show the modeled geometry of the initiation
suction pile and figure 10 the flow patterns as a result of the heaving suction pile.

Figure 9: CFD Analysis - Simplified geometry of the suction

Figure 10: CFD Analysis - Flow pattern around suction pile

The suction pile dimensions of the full scale monitoring campaign and dedicated CFD analysis are listed in table 1.
Notation

Unit

CFD
analysis

Full scale
monitoring

Dry weight

[t]

60

60

Diameter

[m]

3.8

3.8

Height

[m]

18.0

18.0

[m ]

11.3

11.3

D/H

[-]

0.21

0.21

[%]

0.0 - 8.0

8.0

Description

Top Area
Diameter / Height ratio
Perforation
Table 1: Dimensions of the studied suction pile

Figure 11 shows the results of the in-house CFD analyses conducted to approximate the hydrodynamic properties of the
suction pile for different oscillating motion amplitudes. The amplitudes are expressed in the Keulegan Carpenter (KC)
number following the approach of Roe and Zoontjes:

KC =

c
R

In which:
c
=
R
=

(5)

Amplitude of motion
Radius of the suction pile

Figure 11 show that the added mass coefficient (CA) increases for increasing KC number and the added mass coefficient
decreases for larger perforations in the top cover. The perforation of the installed suction pile is 8%. The linear damping ratio
(BE) is constant 14% for varying KC numbers, as can be seen in figure 11.
Note that a comparison CFD analysis for various oscillation periods showed that the oscillation period does not affect the
added mass and damping properties for the considered suction pile.

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1.2
C 0% perf
A

CA [-]

CA 4% perf
CA 8% perf

0.8

Trend 0% perf
Trend 4% perf
Trend 8% perf

0.6
0.4
0

0.5

1.5
KC [-]

2.5

0.2
B 0% perf
E

BE [-]

0.15

BE 4% perf
B 8% perf

0.1

Trend 0% perf
Trend 4% perf

0.05

Trend 8% perf
0

0.5

1.5
KC [-]

2.5

Figure 11: Simulation results with corresponding linear trend lines for perforations 0%, 4% and 8%

Methodology
The suction pile dynamic behavior has been monitored during installation of the suction pile. At various water depths the
suction pile lowering was stopped. To evaluate the response of the structure two approaches were available:
1.

In calm water the support vessel would hardly move and as a result the structure dynamic response would be small.
For these conditions the decaying heave motion of the structure as a result of the firm stop would be assessed.

2.

If seas were present and the support vessel would exhibit significant motions, the subsea structure would show a
dynamic motion response. A spectral analysis would be performed to assess the dynamic behavior of the subsea
structure.

The suction pile was kept stationary every 1000m starting at 500m until the suction pile reached installation depth of 2700m.
In the stationary condition the motions of support vessel and suction pile as well as the forces in the hoist wire were logged.
The minimum duration of the stationary condition was at least 100 free oscillations of the suction pile. This is 100 times the
approximated natural period of the structure in agreement with equation (2b). Frequency domain analysis of time series of at
least 100 cycles is considered sufficient to provide reliable RAOs.
A time trace was composed from the logged motion and force data. A Fourier transformation has been performed to obtain
the motion response spectra of the support vessel and suction pile motions. The same transformation has been performed for
the forces logged in the wire. By dividing the motion and force response function of the suction pile by the support vessel
response spectrum the transfer function or RAO is determined in agreement with equation (4) and figure 6.
The transfer function of the lowering arrangement obtained from the monitoring campaign was compared with the transfer
function from the HMC in-house software LiftDyn. If necessary the (hydro-) dynamic properties were tuned to fit the
theoretical transfer function from LiftDyn with the measured transfer function from the monitoring campaign.

Equipment set-up
Monitoring equipment was installed on board the support vessel to capture the motions of the support vessel in combination
with the motion and force of the lowering system. The monitoring equipment set-up is shown in figure 12. The following
monitoring equipment was used:
Motion Reference Unit (MRU)
The motion reference unit has been installed on board the support vessel to measure the support vessel motions. The
MRU was interfaced with a PC to store the logged data.

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Winch logging
The support vessel winch containing the hoist wire is interfaced to an operator screen to read-out the load in the wire
at the winch and the paid out wire length. An extra interface was installed to store the read-out data on a PC.

Accelerometer
On top of the suction pile cover an accelerometer measured the accelerations of the suction pile. The accelerations of
the suction pile were logged and stored on a memory card in the accelerometer. After the suction pile installation
was completed the accelerometer was recovered to surface with the ROV to read-out the data. The motions of the
suction pile are determined by post-processing the logged accelerations.

Winch logging

Accelerometer

MRU

Figure 12: Monitoring equipment set-up on board the support vessel

Results
The monitoring stages were performed at 500m, 1500m, 2500m and 2700m water depth. Figure 13 and 14 show the motion
and force transfer function of the lowering arrangement for the listed water depths. The graphs show the transfer function
from the support vessel motions to the suction pile motion and the transfer function from the support vessel to the force in the
wire. Both transfer functions are describing the same dynamic behavior of the lowering arrangement. As discussed the graph
does not represent the dynamic behavior of the support vessel. The lowering system response is isolated from the vessel
motions following the method of equation 4 and shown in figure 6.
The thin smoothed lines are the transfer function determined with in-house software LiftDyn. The thicker lines are the results
of the offshore monitoring campaign. The monitoring results show a good agreement with the numerical model results after
minor tuning of the wire stiffness and the hydrodynamic properties of the suction pile.
The natural frequencies of the lowering arrangement are visible as peaks in the graphs. The frequency of a peak is dominated
by the inertia - i.e. dry mass together with the added mass - of the suction pile and the stiffness of the hoist wire.
The peak height of the motion RAO is governed by the damping on the system. The damping is assumed to be linear with the
suction pile velocity. The linear damping ratio is kept constant in the numerical model for the different water depths in
compliance with the CFD results as shown in figure 11. As the critical damping is proportional with the square root of spring
stiffness, this means the linear damping term reduces with increasing water depth, see equation 2c. The constant linear
damping ratio results in equal peak heights for the different monitoring water depths, see figure 13.
The peak height of the force RAO increases with decreasing water depth as shown in figure 14. The explanation for this is
that a larger force is required to stretch a shorter wire with a unit extension.

11

RAO [m / m]

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500m
1500m
2500m
2700m
500m OMC
1500m OMC
2500m OMC
2700m OMC
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

w [rad/s]

RAO [t / m ]

Figure 13: Transfer function or RAO of the support vessel heave motion to the suction pile motions

500m
1500m
2500m
2700m
500m OMC
1500m OMC
2500m OMC
2700m OMC
0.0

0.5

1.0

1.5

w [rad/s]

Figure 14: Transfer function or RAO of the support vessel heave motion to the force in the hoist wire

Tuning was performed by systematically changing the hydrodynamic properties until the numerical model results fitted the
results of the monitoring campaign. The tuned (hydro-) dynamic properties together with the properties from the CFD
analysis are listed in table 2.

Notation

Unit

CFD
analysis

Full scale
monitoring 1)

[kN/m]

not applicable

800 - 148 2)

Added mass coefficient in


heave

CA

[-]

0.58 - 0.96 3)

0.96

Total linear damping ratio

BE

[-]

0.14

Description
Hoist stiffness

Table 2: (Hydro-) dynamic properties of the studied suction piles


1)
2)
3)
4)

Results for 8% perforation in top cover of suction pile


The stiffnesses cover the water depth ranging between 500m and 2700m.
The approximated added mass coefficients for KC number between 0.0 and 3.0.
The linear damping ratio includes hoist wire damping

0.16

4)

12

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Tuning of the hydrodynamic properties of the numerical models was within the expected range:

Added mass
The CFD analysis showed a range of the dimensionless suction pile added mass coefficients between 0.58 and 0.96
depending on the motion amplitude for KC numbers up to 3.0. The added mass coefficient of the suction pile
derived from the full scale monitoring campaign proved to be 0.96 -, which is within the range of the results of the
CFD analysis.

Percentage critical damping


In-house CFD calculation approximated the linear damping ratio for only the suction pile at 14%. After processing
and tuning the offshore measurements, the linear damping ratio of the actual suction pile including the wire damping
was proven to be 16%. The inclusion of the wire damping to the total damping could explain this difference.

Wire stiffness
The wire stiffness used in the numerical model before tuning was deviating from the stiffness obtained from the full
scale monitoring campaign. The stiffness obtained from the monitoring campaign is outside the range of the
stiffnesses approximated with recommended practices from various class societies.
The difference between the theoretical stiffness and the measured stiffness could be a result of the type of strand
construction of the support vessel wire or the difference in static stiffness versus the dynamic stiffness. More
measurement campaigns are required to confirm the stiffness of hoist wires during various loading conditions.

Discussion
The monitoring campaign and comparison with the numerical models results in the following observations:
1.

The monitoring set-up and methodology provided a uniform method to confirm the dynamic behavior of the
lowering system. The method is independent of the vessel performing the installation.

2.

The results of the monitoring campaign gave good insight in the applicability of various methods to derive
hydrodynamic properties. After tuning, numerical models showed a good agreement with the results of the
monitoring campaign.

3.

The tuned hydrodynamic properties are close to the approximated values with the CFD calculations.

The listed observations confirm that the motions of the subsea structure together with force in the wire can be accurately
predicted with the numerical software LiftDyn providing the input is accurate. The referred model input which is required to
be accurate is listed below:

Vessel behavior in wave environment;


The subsea structure is excitated by the support vessel. Therefore accurate prediction of the vessel response is vital.
HMC has standard databases for all its installation vessels, based on diffraction analysis and damping derived from
model tests. Theses databases are verified by offshore measurements.

(Hydro-) dynamic properties;


The relevant hydrodynamic properties of the lowering system are the added mass and damping of the subsea
structure combined with the stiffness of the wire.

Different available methods to approximate the (hydro-) dynamic properties of subsea structures provide a range of properties
in general. In order to cover the real behavior a sensitivity study for the approximated range of system properties need to be
performed. The range of (hydro-) dynamic properties depends on:

Complexity of the subsea structure;


Availability of scale model test data and or CFD results;
Availability of full scale measurement data of identical or comparable structures;
Avaible data on stiffness of hoist wires

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13

The installabililty of the subsea structure needs to be proven for the full range of dynamic properties. By regularly performing
full scale measurements HMC is building a (hydro-) dynamic database for various structures. Use of this dataset will narrow
the range of input data resulting in the most cost efficient installation method for future installations.
For small structures, the use of (passive) heave compensation may be a solution. For heavy structures the installability can be
improved by using a semi-submersible type of installation vessel for critical subsea installation. HMCs - high lift capacity crane vessels show small motions in various wave environments. These small motions keep the excitation forces on the
subsea structure small. This ensures a safe installation of subsea structures within provided installation criteria.

Follow-up activities
HMC has performed and will continue performing full scale monitoring campaign on a variety of structures and lowering
arrangements. The main objective of these monitoring campaigns will be gathering data regarding and confirming the
dynamic system properties. The main areas of interest are:

Added mass and damping for more complex structures to be used for validation of future CFD analyses;
Confirmation of dynamic stiffness of hoist wire arrangements for a range of loading periods and motion amplitudes;
Dynamic behavior and efficiency of active and passive heave compensation systems.

Currently, HMC performs a extensive monitoring campaign on the HMC subsea structure installation scope offshore West
Africa in 2000m water depth. Nylon ropes are incorporated in the support vessel rigging arrangement to act as a passive
heave compensator. The principle of using nylon rope is a reduction of the stiffness of the hoist arrangement to improve the
dynamic behaviour. The obtained monitoring results will be used to confirm the dynamic properties of the nylon rope and
prove the efficiency of the rigging for future projects.

Conclusion
One of the most critical phases of the deepwater structure installation is encountered when the subsea structure is in close
proximity of the seabed. The position and orientation need to be confirmed before landing the structure on the seabed. In
general the subsea structure will be stationary at this depth for longer durations. Large motions in this phase are not permitted
for various reasons.
The offshore monitoring campaign conducted by HMC confirmed the applicability of numerical models for deepwater
structure installation. Numerical models proved to be able to accurately model subsea dynamic behavior of the lowering
system for this stationary condition. With the numerical software LiftDyn, HMC is able to analyze the structure motions and
confirm the installability of the subsea structure in deepwater within the operational limits.
In difficult circumstances HMC is able to fine-tune the installation using lift simulation in combination with CFD analysis to
arrive at a safe and effective procedure. The effect of the predicted improvements can be confirmed and documented in
procedures, backed up by experience from the monitoring campaigns. Tuning measures range from selecting more suitable
vessels, such as semi-submersible crane vessel as installation vessel to usage of active or passive heave compensators.
Analysis will be performed to ensure installation in compliance with the clients need to land the critical structures safe and
undamaged on the sea bottom.

14

OTC 21291

References
[1]

T.F. Roe, G. Macfarlane, Y. Drobyshevski


Investigation into the Sensitivity of the Dynamic Hook load during Subsea Deployment of a Suction Can
OMAE2007-29244

[2]

J. Ireland, G. Macfarlane, Y. Drobyshevski


Heave Added Mass and Damping of a Suction Can in proximity to the Sea Floor
OMAE2008-57559

[3]

R. Zoontjes, H. Siegersma, H. Ottens


Using CFD to Determine Heave Added Mass and Damping of a Suction Pile
OMAE2009-79373

[4]

M. Raoof and T.J. Davies


Simple determination of the axial stiffness for large diameter independent wire rope core or fibre core wire ropes
Civil and Building Engineering Department, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire, UK