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Proceedings of MTEC2011

13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

A Simple Method for Simultaneously Tensioning

Multiple Mooring Legs for Floating Production
Subsea 7, Singapore.

Mooring systems normally comprise multiple catenary legs often arranged in clusters with
individual legs anchored to the seabed by driven / suction piles, or drag anchors. For submerged
turrets and Single Point Mooring (SPM) buoys it is important to establish the tension in the mooring
system during installation since it may be difficult or impossible, to adjust the mooring leg tension
during service. For these types of installation it is therefore standard practice for each leg to be pretensioned to a specific load before connecting with the buoy to establish the shape of the buried
inverse catenary between the anchor and the dip down point.
On a recent project a new method of simultaneously pre-tensioning multiple mooring legs was
conceived and executed offshore that resulted in a much faster installation than would otherwise been
possible using reaction anchors or other specialist proprietary tensioning tools. Offshore installation
methodology involves connecting multiple mooring legs to a chain tensioning tool and lifting them up
through the water column by means of the installation vessel crane. The vertical uplift force produces
a resultant horizontal tension in the legs in bowstring fashion. Depending on water depth and tension
required, tensioning may be achieved in a single lift however in shallow water, or where high tensions
are specified, multiple bites may be required using pre-installed grommets.
This paper describes the components of the multiple leg tensioning system, the offshore installation
methodology together with the design calculations and analyses used to plan the operation and how
tensions achieved in the field are validated.
Keywords: Mooring, pre-tensioning, catenary, multiple leg

1 Introduction
Mooring systems consist of multiple catenary
mooring legs often arranged as individual legs
or in leg clusters in rotationally symmetric
patterns. Although exceptions to these rules
exist when unidirectional wave and wind
loading require asymmetric mooring, they
form a very small number of the total installed
moorings. However, an interesting case, and
one that particularly benefits from the multiple
tensioning system described in this paper, is

where the mooring pattern comprises an odd

number of anchor leg clusters or patterns where
there are no diametrically opposing fixed points
to use as a reaction point for direct crosstensioning (Figure 1).
Steel chains and wire ropes are most commonly
used for mooring lines in general. In shallow
water depths, the mooring leg may be entirely
made up from chain, whereas in deeper water
where the weight of chain would become
excessive, it is more common to construct the

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

leg from a wire rope with upper and lower

chain sections connecting to the anchor point
and the floating structure respectively.

The main components of a typical mooring leg

are annotated in Figure 2.

Fig. 2. A generic mooring leg profile

Once the fixed anchor points such as piles and
the mooring line components are installed, the
mooring legs are usually pre-tensioned to a
specified load before final hook up to the
floating structure or buoy.
Fig. 1. 120 rotationally
invariant system with a
mooring cluster of 3 mooring
legs each
The lower attachment point at the fixed
anchor, such as the padeye on the driven pile
or suction pile is often located at some depth
below seabed level which means that the
anchor chain assumes a reverse curvature
through the soil before emerging at mudline at
the dip-down point. This embedded chain
length and its inverse catenary is an important
factor in establishing the tension of the
mooring system.
Setting the attachment point below seabed
level has some significant advantages over
attachment at the pile head. Key benefits are
that the soil resistance of embedded section of
mooring leg chain contributes to the overall
resistance of the anchor to the service load and
secondly that a padeye located around the
mid-height of the pile is often the point at
which bending stresses in the pile become a
minimum. This results in the most economic
pile design. In practice, finding the ideal
position for the padeye is frequently a trial and
error design process.

2 Pre-Tensioning
As mentioned previously, it is important to
establish tension in the mooring system when
installing certain floating structures and buoys
to ensure that neither the tension nor the
mooring centre exceeds design limitations once
the system becomes operational.
This is
accomplished by pre-tensioning the mooring
legs to a specified load before final hook up.
The main objectives of pre-tensioning are
therefore to:

align the mooring leg towards the mooring

center to remove any slack, bends or twists
in the wire and / or chain,
develop the inverse catenary in the
embedded chain section between the anchor
and the dip-down point.
minimise the difference between the
embedded chain length (Le) and the
horizontal distance from the anchor point to
the dip down point (Lh) as illustrated in
Figure 3.

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

3 Buried Inverse Catenary Profile

Fig. 3 Definition of lengths associated with

embedded catenary
It is important to note that pre-tensioning is
not intended to act as a proof load to verify the
capacity of the mooring pile or any other
mooring component.
Indeed, pre-tension
loads may be less than the design service
loads. For example in situations where the
seabed comprises soft clay much of the excess
chain (Le - Lh) in the buried section can be
pulled out at relatively low tensions and there
is no need to apply additional load beyond
Figure 4 illustrates how the embedded chain
length (Le) approaches the horizontal length
(Lh) as the load increases. One can see that the
difference between the two lengths becomes
progressively and exponentially smaller with
increasing load. (This particular example was
produced from a series of calculations based
on the soils and chain parameters shown on
the inset.)

A reliable estimation of the shape and length of

the buried chain is required to define where the
upper connection is made since the embedded
length governs the total mooring line length and
consequently has an effect on the tension of the
system. This is of particular importance in
mooring systems for submerged turret or SPM
buoys where the top chain connections are hung
off chain stoppers (or are cut to length with little
excess) during installation and cannot be easily
adjusted whilst the buoy is in service.
During installation, the chain is pre-attached to
the pile/suction anchor and the chain follows the
pile/suction anchor down during self weight
penetration and driving or suction phases.
Normally no measurements are taken of the
chain profile prior to tensioning however it is
usually assumed that immediately after mooring
pile installation the embedded section of chain
resembles the profile shown in Figure 5(a) with
the dip-down point very close to the pile itself.
Upon completion of tensioning the shape of the
catenary is pulled out to look more like Figure
5(b) with a considerable movement of the dipdown point towards the mooring centre which
often ends up tens of meters from the pile
OrcaFlex 9.3c: untitled.dat (modified 14:36 on 13/10/2010 by OrcaFlex 9.3c) (azimuth=270; elevation=0)
Statics Complete


Pre-Tension (kN)




OrcaFlex 9.3c: untitled.dat (modified 14:36 on 13/10/2010 by OrcaFlex 9.3c) (azimuth=270; elevation=0)
Static s Complete





Lh/Le (%)


Soft clay Su, 5 + 2 kPa/m

Chain diameter, 152 mm
Chain weight, 465 kg/m
Attachment point, 10m



Figure 5(a). Catenary

before Tensioning

Figure 5(b). Catenary

after Tensioning

Fig. 5 Embedded Catenary Profile

Fig. 4 Relationship of embedded length to
horizontal length with load

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

Various methods are available to calculate the

profile of the embedded section of chain by
considering the most probable soil-chain
interaction. This buried catenary analysis is
frequently undertaken by the pile designer
since the optimal pile design depends on how
the embedded chain profile changes during
tensioning and how the magnitude and angle
of the load in the chain is applied to the
padeye. The designer therefore normally
specifies the tension required at dip down
point to achieve the desired catenary shape.
This paper does not set out to repeat the
design methods currently in practice and the
reader is referred to Stauttener 1998, Dutta
1989 and Neubecker 1995 for guidance on
this. However, it is worth mentioning that
most solutions consider that the resistance of
the soil can be idealised into normal and a
tangential components of force with the
calculation being performed in steps
iteratively adjusting the tension and the angle
against the known position of the attachment
The important input data for
calculating the chain-soil response are the soil
characteristics, the mooring line tension and
its angle at the mudline and the chain
properties such as its weight and diameter.

4 Conventional Pre-tensioning
Several methods for pre-tensioning mooring
legs exist but the choice of which one to use
depends on several factors including amongst
others; water depth, type of installation
vessels, type of fixed anchor (e.g. pile or drag
anchor) and configuration of the mooring
Tensioning can either be performed as a
subsea operation or above water on deck. The
more common methods for pre-tensioning
mooring systems are described below noting
any particular advantages or disadvantages of

Deck tensioning
Deck tensioning is usually performed using an
Anchor Handling Tug (AHT) or similar vessel
with adequate bollard pull. Once the anchor is
installed, the ground chain is picked up by the
anchor handler with a grommet and brought
onto the deck. The chain is then fixed to the
deck using shark jaws and the vessel moves
towards the mooring centre tensioning the
anchor chain to a specified load. This is a
relatively simple and straightforward operation
but only one mooring leg can be tensioned at a
time utilising this method and it requires a
specialist vessel with sufficient bollard pull.
Deck Cross-hauling
This method does not necessarily need a high
bollard pull vessel but does require specialist
deck tensioning equipment. Once the anchor
pile or drag anchor is installed, the ground chain
is picked up using a grommet by the AHT or
installation vessel and brought to the deck. The
chain is then fed into a powerful hydraulic
tensioning unit which provides the required
tension. Reaction can be provided by using
either a pre-installed temporary anchor or a
diametrically opposed mooring leg if one is
available and sufficiently close. Again, this is a
relatively straightforward operation and multiple
mooring legs can be tensioned but it is generally
limited to two. There are also considerable
safety issues to be considered when using this
system because of the risks associated with
wires and chains under high tension on the deck.
Subsea Tensioning
Subsea tensioning works on the principle that a
vertical uplift load on a horizontal string
(bowstring) imparts large resultant forces in the
correspondingly high pretension loads in the
mooring legs. In practice subsea tensioning
may, or may not, involve the use of specialist or
proprietary installation aids such as mechanical
ratchet systems (e.g. Vryhof Stevtensioner) but
in its simplest configuration requires the use of a
tri-plate to cross tension two anchors legs.
Subsea cross tensioning methods are somewhat
analogous to those performed above water but

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

because it is performed as a subsea operation

most of the safety issues associated with deck
tensioning are mitigated.
The simplest subsea method uses a tri-plate to
cross-tension diametrically opposed pile
anchors or a pile anchor and a pre-installed
temporary reaction drag embedment anchor.
The tri-plate is connected to the installation
vessel crane and lifted vertically in a single
bite until the required horizontal tension is
imparted to the mooring leg(s). Depending on
the mooring pattern it may be possible to
tension all the legs within a cluster without resetting the reaction anchor, however mooring
legs of any one cluster are not always installed
at the same time and hence this may mean resetting the anchor several times.
A mechanical chain ratchet device such as
Stevtensioner can also be used to for subsea
cross tensioning and is used instead of a triplate. The device works by fixing one anchor
to the device which is referred to as the
passive chain. The opposite mooring leg
chain or the active chain passes up through the
tensioner and is connected to the installation
vessel crane. When the Stevtensioner is lifted
by the active chain the ratchet blocks the chain
which in turn lifts the active and passive
mooring lines imparting a load through the
mooring legs to both opposing anchors. This
results in a gain of chain length as the
embedded catenary is developed.
Stevtensioner is then lowered which releases
the ratchet mechanism and allows it to slide
down the active chain before lifting again and
for this process to be repeated in a yoyo
fashion until the specified horizontal tension
in the mooring lines is achieved.
This method is particularly suited to shallow
water where multiple bites are needed to
achieve the specified tension but can be
limiting in the number of legs that can be
tensioned simultaneously.

5 Cross-Tensioning Multiple Anchors

Working on a recent project in the Arabian Gulf
which involved installation of a mooring system
as shown in Figure 1, a method to
simultaneously pre-tension three mooring lines
connected to pile anchors was conceived and
successfully executed.
A special cross tensioning tool (CTT) was
designed to provide simultaneous tension to
three anchors installed at 120 degrees to one
another from the mooring centre. In this way
only three tensioning operations were required
to pre-tension a total of nine legs.
The operation is relatively straightforward and
is analogous to cross-tensioning two anchors
using the bowstring method except that three or
more lines can be tensioned. The vertical force
is provided by the installation vessel crane with
the lift being as close as possible to the mooring
centre. Subsea connections are a necessary part
of the operation and ROVs are used to connect
the two of the lines to the CTT by ROV hooks.
The first connection is made on deck.
This method proved to be efficient as well as
safer and was shown to be at least 15% faster as
compared to cross-tensioning two anchors using
bow string method. Other than the fabrication
cost of the CTT (which was not particularly
high) there was no requirement for hiring or
purchasing any other ancillary equipment such
as reaction anchors or ratchet tensioners. Thus,
offshore time and costs associated with it was
reduced. The method also avoids safety risk to
personnel working close to tensioned wires as in
the case for cross-hauling and deck tensioning.

6 Cross Tensioning Tool

Cross-tensioning multiple mooring legs required
design and fabrication of a bespoke tool for
lifting the connected mooring lines. For this
particular project the cross tensioning tool was
designed to lift three mooring legs
simultaneously but there is no technical reason
why this couldnt be increased to 4 or more legs.
Although it was used to tension mooring chains,

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

the tool can easily be used for mooring wires

as well.
It comprises a central tubular section rigged to
the installation vessel crane and three pinned
hooks to which the 3 mooring leg connections
are made. One connection is made on deck by
passing a grommet through the padeye pin
while the other two lines are connected subsea
using ROV hooks.

Fig. 7 Chain tensioning Tool with three mooring

lines being tensioned

7 Analysis

Fig. 6 CTT designed to pre-tension three

The Chain Tensioning tool (CTT) is probably
the most critical component for this method. It
is a tool that is subjected to a large amount of
normal as well as shear stress and is most
vulnerable to deformation. Thus, special
attention was given to its overall design and
choice of fabrication methods and materials.

The industry standard modelling tool Orcaflex

was used to analyze and predict the behaviour of
the moorings subjected to the multiple pretensioning methods. A detailed Orcaflex model
was created to run both static and dynamic
simulations to gain an understanding of the
relationship between the horizontal tension at
the anchor and the vertical tension in crane wire
for various lifting heights.

In brief, the design specifications are as


Effective Diameter 3m and Height 1.3m

Max Static Load of 350 tonnes at the three
Off lead angle between 10 and 15 degrees
Fabricated from Steel with a Yield
strength of 355 MPa
ROV compatible hooks to allow
underwater ROV assisted connections

The tool was designed and fabricated in 12


Fig. 8 Orcaflex model for cross-tensioning three

One of the problems that beset the initial
analyses was the difficulty in allowing for
change in dip-down point and the progressive
lengthening of the mooring leg as the embedded
chain section (Le) is pulled out under increasing
load. This became a circular argument and the

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

calculations refused to converge satisfactorily.

Therefore to simplify the analysis it was found
necessary to fix the dip down point to the
location determined by the embedded catenary
calculations with the design pre-tension
applied at once rather an increasing one.
From these analyses it was possible to
construct a graph for the relationship between
the tension and lift height. In this way the
graphs can be used as a field tool for
establishing the pre-tension rather than
undertaking Orcaflex analyses offshore.
Figure 9 illustrates a typical example of the
spreadsheet graph taken offshore to verify the
tension with linear relationship between lift
height and tension shown. In this particular
case the design tension was 225 tonnes and it
can be seen from the graph that the first bite
failed to achieve adequate lift height to reach
the desired tension and so a second bite was

recovered onto the deck
using grommets and the
pennants are installed.

First Mooring leg is

connected to CTT on deck
and the CTT is lowered to
seabed using a crane.

The other two mooring leg

connections to CTT are
made on seabed using ROV

The crane pulls the CTT

vertically upwards in steps
until tension at the three
anchors exceeds required

Fig. 10 Storyboard for pre-tensioning three

anchors using CTT
Once pre-tensioning activity is complete, the
CTT is lowered to seabed and the mooring legs
are disconnected by ROV and laid onto the
seabed. The CTT tool is afterwards recovered
to the deck to be used again.
Fig. 9 Pre-tension verification curve

8 Installation
The key activities in the installation sequence
are illustrated in the following sketches.

9 Conclusions
Pre-tensioning mooring legs is a standard
procedure that can be achieved in different
ways; however most standard methods only
tension one or two mooring legs at a time. This
method is more efficient by simultaneously
tensioning multiple legs and can be used for
most common mooring patterns.
Comparative studies between this method and
comparable mooring installation projects where
multiple tensioning was not used have revealed
the following key findings:

Proceedings of MTEC2011
13-15 Apr, 2011, Singapore

Cross-tensioning 3 anchors at a time
proved to be 15 % faster when compared
to a comparable project where two anchors
were cross-tensioned at a time.
Pre-tensioning activity time was just half
of that compared to another project where
the reaction anchor method was employed
to tension single legs at a time.

In summary the following conclusions can be

made for the proposed method of pretensioning:

Installation vessel should be equipped with

an adequate crane or winch.
This is a simple but effective way of pretensioning multiple mooring legs that
avoids use of expensive proprietary or
specialist equipment.
Cost of designing and fabricating the CCT
has to be taken into consideration but
experience suggests that this is more than
covered by savings
The reduced offshore duration by
tensioning multiple legs simultaneously
leads to lower field development costs.
It is applicable where anchors clusters are
not diametrically opposite to each other
but laid rotationally symmetrically.
It can be used in situations where the use
of reaction anchors is undesirable or
Performing tensioning subsea avoids risks
to personnel working close to wires and
chains in tension as would be the case for
cross-hauling / tensioning on deck.

Dutta, A and Degenkamp, G. Behaviour of

Embedded Mooring Chians in Clay During
Chain Tensioning, Offshore Technology
Conference 6031, presented at 1989 Annual
OTC, Houston, 1989.
Degankamp, G. and Dutta, A. Soil Resistances
to Embedded Anchor Chain in Soft Clay,
Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Volume
Design and Analysis of Stationkeeping Systems
for Floating Structures Third Edition, API RP
2SK, American Petroleum Institute, Oct 2008.
Frazer, I and Perinet, D. Installation of Mooring
and Anchoring Systems for Deep Water
Floating Production Systems, presented at
Offshore Asia, Kuala Lumpur, 17-19 January
Stauttener, Simon P. and Steveninck, Ronald
van. Chain-Soil Interaction, IBC UK
Conferences Limited 1998, 1998.
Vryhof, Anchor Manual 2010, The guide to