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The paper deals with evaluation of ultimate bending moment for ship hull with transversally
stiffened plates. Methods of evaluations of ultimate capacity for ship hulls are briefly
presented. Specific problem of determination of load-end shortening curves for transversally
stiffened plates subject to compressive uniform loading and compressive/tensile linearly
distributed loading is investigated at first using approximate and finite element approaches.
The results are then applied to evaluation of the ultimate moment in vertical bending.
Comparison of results in terms of ultimate bending moments for ship hulls with transversally
stiffened regions are then given.
Analysis of ship structural strength is usually performed at three levels; analysis of basic
structural components such as plates and stiffeners (with or without attached plating,
depending on the problem), analysis of structural regions with well-defined boundary
conditions (structures composed of primary girders such as double bottoms, sides, decks,
bulkheads), referred to as direct calculations in the rules, and analysis of ship longitudinal
strength. The third level refers to the ship hull modelled by a thin-walled beam loaded by
difference between weight of the hull and equipment, cargo, ballast, fuel, etc. and buoyancy.
The difference generates vertical shear forces and vertical bending moments along the ship
hull. These values are also referred to as still water shear forces and bending moments. Due to
action of waves still water shear force and vertical bending moment are increased, and
additional components of internal force appear: horizontal shear force and bending moment
and torsional moment. For some open-type ships torsion is a problem however, vertical shear
forces and especially vertical bending moments are essential in strength evaluation of any type
of ship hull.
Classical beam theory is applied for analysis of ship hulls subject to bending. Assumption that
planes perpendicular to the longitudinal axis remain plane and perpendicular when subject to
bending is valid which implies linear distribution of stresses in the cross-section- Fig. 1. Some
panels are subject to tension and others to compression.

Fig. 1. Stress distribution in ship hull cross-section subject to vertical bending
The conventional assessment of the ship hull girder longitudinal strength is based on
comparison of maximum elastic stress in the hull section with allowable stress, specified as a
fraction of yield stress. Thus the elastic section modulus calculated for horizontal axis is
treated as a measure of longitudinal bending strength. This attitude, though widely applied,
does not provide with information concerning resistance of the ship hull in extreme
conditions. This can be achieved by evaluation of ultimate capacity - maximum bending
moment a hull can carry - which thus becomes an important point in ship structural rational
design. With this value it is possible to estimate a safety margin between maximum still water
and wave bending moments and the ultimate bending moment causing collapse of the ship. It
should be clearly explained that the term ultimate capacity is addressed to ductile collapse of
hull, while other failure modes due to brittle and fatigue fractures are also possible. These are
not covered in the paper.
Depending on the actual loading case a ship is said to be in hogging or sagging (Fig. 1).
Distinguishing between these two conditions is important because due to non-symmetry of the
cross-section the ultimate bending moments in hogging and sagging can vary considerably.
Beginning of research work on the ship hull ultimate capacity dates back to 1965 when
CALDWELL [7] considered collapse of the ship hull modelling structural elements as panels
and determining ultimate load for each panel based on either analytical method or experiment.
In his approach post-buckling behaviour was not accounted for. This is a serious drawback as
the structural elements fail sequentially and at the moment of ship collapse some are in pre-
buckling and others in post-buckling range. SMITH [24] considered a panel as a number of
beams with attached plating and took into account beam-column and plate failure modes.
RUTHERFORD and CALDWELL [22] performed a thorough analysis of Energy
Concentration, a tanker which was broken during discharging oil in the port. They performed
finite element analysis of each stiffener and applied the results to evaluation of the ultimate
bending moment. They studied influence of various factors on the ultimate capacity; material
properties, fabrication factors, corrosion and lateral pressure. Similar investigations were also
made by other authors [2,8,9,13,17,21]. The ultimate load is thoroughly discussed in [14]
where available analytical techniques are presented and obtained results are compared with
those from experimental investigation.
Since the ship structure is complex direct calculations using the finite element method are
hardly applicable as being too costly and in most cases unprofitable due to a very large model
in terms of number of finite elements. Some efforts have been undertaken; examples include
papers by KUTT et al. [15] where finite element non-linear calculations were presented for
various hull configurations, and by BENDIKSEN [6] who performed simplified finite element
calculations employing plastic node method.
Few papers refer to experimental investigation. NISHIHARA made tests using models
corresponding to typical cross-sections of a tankers and bulk-carriers [20]. Experimental
investigation was performed also by MANSOUR et al. [18]
Generally variations of a simplified method have been extensively applied ever since the
concept was first presented by CALDWELL [7]. The method is called a method of
components. The idea of the method is a decomposition of the ship cross-section into a
number of components - stiffened panels and unstiffened plates. The components are treated
as independent of each other.
The behaviour of the components is easy to determine in the case of components subject to
tension; their behaviour directly follows the material model, usually elastic-perfectly plastic.
For components subject to compression also buckling must be taken into account. The
behaviour of the compressed components is approximately evaluated according to simplified
formulae based on theoretical investigation supported by results of the finite element analyses.
In the simplified formulae the various buckling modes should be taken into consideration:
plate failure mode, flexural (beam-column) failure mode, flexural-torsional failure mode and
local (buckling of web) failure mode. Due to simple form of the equations no interaction
between the buckling modes is taken into account. An important problem is that the equations
should allow to calculate not only the ultimate capacity but also the behaviour of a panel in
pre- and post-collapse range (- curve).
A number of papers devoted to the problem of construction of load-end shortening curves (-
curves) of stiffened plates has been published. Two groups of methods can be distinguished
based on either elastic critical stress with Johnson-Ostenfeld correction [11,12] or on the
concept of plastic hinges [1,16]. In the present formulation equations were applied based on
generalised form of critical buckling stress [3]. The concept was first presented by GORDO
and SOARES [11,12]. Eq. (1) presents exemplary equation for the plate failure mode.
( ) ( )
( )

av e
S e p
S p
A b t
A b t
where ( )
is an average stress at compressed edge, ( )
is edge function ( ( ) 1 1
is a cross section area of the stiffeners, ( )
( ) ( )
b b
e e


2 25 125
. .
is an effective width
calculated based on generalised slenderness of plating ( )

t E
= , and not greater
than b, t
is a thickness of plate, b is distance between stiffeners,
is yield stress. Similar
equations have been specified for beam-column, flexural-torsional and local web failure
modes. The equations were verified against results of finite element calculations, and the
obtained correlation was satisfactory for technical purpose [26].
Two types of stiffening systems can be applied when designing and building ship hull;
transverse and longitudinal. The choice of the system is associated with predominant loading
carried by structural members. Transversally stiffened ships were built until sixties/seventies.
With the growing size of merchant vessels application of longitudinal system became a must,
at least in regions carrying largest stresses due to overall ship hull bending. Some regions are
still transversally stiffened. Most typical examples are bulk-carrier sides, and precisely a part
of the side between hopper and wing tank, and some parts of the double sides of container
ships - Fig. 2 and 3. In bulk-carriers the side is transversally stiffened due to exploitation and
strength reasons - large shear forces appear for this type of ship which are more effectively
carried by transversally rather than longitudinally stiffened plating. In container ships it is due
to manufacturing. Transversally stiffened plates are generally much less resistant to buckling,
induced by overall bending stresses, however their influence must be also taken into
consideration. Moreover, a part of the plate can be subject to compression while other to
tension what makes the problem more complex.

Fig. 2. Typical cross-section of bulk-carrier Fig. 3. Typical cross-section of container
Papers by SCHULTZ [23] and FAULKNER [10] can be given as examples of early attempts
of investigation on behaviour of transversally stiffened plates. First practical formula was cast
by VALSGAARD [27] who presented a design equation for the ultimate strength of simply
supported plates in compression with unrestrained shorter edges - Eq. (2). The formula was
based on the results of numerical investigation performed using non-linear shell computer
code. The formula covered the range of plate aspects and slenderness ratios typical for ship
and offshore structures.

( )
( ) ( )

e e


| +


2 1
0 08 1 1
2 2
. (2)
where a is length of shorter, unloaded edge of the plate and b is length of longer, loaded edge.
Buckling and post-buckling behaviour of plates under non-uniform compressive edge stress
were also addressed to by BEDAIR [4,5], following earlier contribution by WALKER [28].
Galerkin method was applied for solution, however, all investigations were restricted to
elastic range. NARAYAN and CHAN [19] examined behaviour of plates containing holes
under linearly varying edge displacements in pre- and post-buckling range. They assumed that
the ultimate capacity of plate is equivalent to load level when edge strips reached yield. No
other papers concerning the problems are available; especially plates subject to both tension
and compression are not treated. This type of loading occurs for plates being bulk-carriers
side. For the purpose of calculations performed in the present paper it was assumed for
transversally stiffened plate that the actual stress for a given co-ordinate (distance from the
neutral axis) can be evaluated using generalised form of modified Valsgaard equation for
evaluation of average critical compressive stress - Eq. (3). Stress distribution along the
compressed edge can be thus found - Fig. 7. For plate induced failure of transversely stiffened
plates, the equation for evaluation of the average stress at a given strain takes the form:
( ) ( ) ( )
transv e we Y

where ( )
is an average stress at compressed edge,
( )
( )
( ) ( )
e e



| +

18 08
01 1 1
2 2
. .
. is a normalised collapse load for
transversally stiffened plate (modified Valsgaard equation).
Finite element calculations using the computer code for elastic-plastic non-linear analysis of
plates [] have been performed for verification of the values of ultimate capacities of plates.
Finite element model and initial deflection corresponding to the failure mode are shown in
Fig. 4. Plates were loaded by displacement at the longer edges what modelled conditions of
loading in the ship hull. Typical load-end shortening curve is presented in Fig. 5

Fig. 4. Finite element model of plate Fig. 5. Load-end shortening curve
Calculations were performed for models of plates covering the whole range of dimensions of
all transversally stiffened plates occurring in the analysed ships. Exemplary results for 3 plates
of the double side of the container ship (L=225 m) are shown in Table 1. The values given
there are representative for the whole set of results.
Table 1. Comparison of ultimate capacity for transversally stiffened plates
No. a b t
Ultimate capacity according to
[mm] [mm] [mm] Valsgaard
Eq. (2)
Eq. (3)
1. 800 1880 8.0 64.5 63.5 62.8
2. 800 1880 13.5 93.7 92.9 102.7
3. 800 1880 24.0 136.1 142.8 167.5

A good agreement of results obtained using finite element method and approximate
formulations can be noticed. The value of the ultimate capacity according to modified
Valsgaard equation is slightly overestimated for slender plates and, on the other hand,
underestimated for more stocky plates comparing to the finite element results.
Finite element calculations have also been performed for the case of a plate subject to both
tension and compression. The plate represented a bulk-carrier side of dimensions
5000x850 mm, and thickness 15 mm. It was assumed that the place of zero strain was fixed in
the middle of the longer edge of the plate what corresponded to fixed position of neutral axis
while increasing load. Comparison of stress distribution along the compressed edge with finite
element results is shown in Fig. 6 and 7. for two levels of loading, generating strains in most
remote parts equal to 05 .
, respectively where
E = / . It can be seen that
restraining effect of simply supported edges is underestimated on compressive side.

Fig. 6. Stress distribution for 05 .
Fig. 7. Stress distribution for

A series of calculation of ultimate capacity has been performed for bulk-carriers and container
ships as ships having transversally stiffened regions. An aim of the calculation was to
compare the ultimate capacities of ship hulls obtained using approximate formulation -
modified Valsgaard equation - and values and distributions from the finite element analysis.
Such an analysis was performed for each transversally stiffened plate from the hull and the
results were coded in the program for ultimate capacity evaluation. The results are given in
Table 2 for bulk-carriers and Table 3 for container ships.
Table 2. Ultimate capacity of bulk-carriers
No L [m] Loading
1. 230 hogging 9400 9403 0.0%
sagging 8772 8890 1.3%
2. 185 hogging 3748 3749 0.0%
sagging 3610 3682 2.0%
3. 180 hogging 3518 3519 0.0%
sagging 2911 3247 11.5%
4. 179 hogging 4572 4572 0.0%
sagging 3253 3417 5.0%
5. 257 hogging 14053 14053 0.0%
sagging 10082 10250 1.7%
6. 210 hogging 6112 6226 1.9%
sagging 5076 5353 5.5%
7. 257 hogging 14042 14042 0.0%
sagging 10073 10236 1.6%
8. 211 hogging 5696 5866 3.0%
sagging 5238 5367 2.5%

Table 3. Ultimate capacity of container ships
No L [m] Loading
1. 225 hogging 6640 6770 2.0%
sagging 8045 8107 0.8%
2. 121 hogging 995 1021 2.6%
sagging 775 789 1.8%
3. 135 hogging 2202 2239 1.7%
sagging 1789 1826 2.1%

It can be seen from the tables that determination of behaviour of transversally stiffened plates
using the finite element method has almost no influence in case of container ships. Small
increase of the ultimate bending moments were in fact within limits of an error of the
simplified method. It has larger influence in case of bulk-carriers, especially in sagging. It can
be explained in the following way; due to initial position of neutral axis transversally stiffened
side is normally compressed in sagging. Increased level of stress in this region has stabilising
effect on the actual position of neutral axis which is shifted downward more slowly. For two
cases increase was about 5%, and in the case of bulk-carrier no. 3 increase was 11.5%. It can
be explained by the configuration of this ship; transversally stiffened is not only the part of the
side between tanks but also the part within the wing tank. This example shows that for ships
with extensive use of transversally stiffened plating analysis should be performed employing
finite element results otherwise the ultimate bending moment can be significantly
The problem of transversally stiffened plates has been presented in the paper in reference to
ship hull. Approximated formulation given by Valsgaard [27] was applied for evaluation of
ultimate capacity of transversally stiffened plates. The results were verified against the results
obtained using the finite element method. Both groups of results were then applied to
evaluation of the ultimate bending moment of ship hulls. The results confirmed usefulness of
the Valsgaard equation for approximate calculation of the ultimate capacity of transversally
stiffened plates compressed with uniform loading and correctness of the generalisation of the
equation to obtain full range of stress-strain curve. It also turned out that plates subject to
linearly varying loading should be treated separately by the finite element method as there is
presently no appropriate approximate method for this type of plates. On the other hand, it
must be pointed that application of the approximate formulation causes acceptable error in
most analysed cases.
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of ultimate longitudinal strength of ship hull, Bureau Veritas - Marine Branch Report
No. BM/DB/01/98, Paris, May 1998.
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stress gradient, Int. J. Structural Engineering and Mechanics, 4, 1996, 383-396.
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Structural Engineering and Mechanics, 4, 1996, 397-413.
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University of Denmark, March 1992.
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Hull, Proc. PRADS77, Tokyo, 1977.
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University of Szczecin, October 1997.
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Artyku dotyczy nonoci granicznej kadubw okrtowych. Pokrtce przedstawiono sposoby
rozwizywania tego zagadnienia. Wykorzystujc wzory przyblione oraz wyniki oblicze
metod elementw skoczonych okrelono krzywe obcienie-przemieszczenie dla pyt
usztywnionych poprzecznie poddanych dziaaniu obcienia rozoonego rwnomiernie i
liniowo wzdu krawdzi. Wyniki wykorzystano do oblicze momentw granicznych statkw
z rejonami usztywnionymi poprzecznie. Przedstawiono porwnanie wynikw wartoci
nonoci granicznej kadubw.

This paper is a part of the joint Bureau Veritas - Technical University of Szczecin research
project on the ultimate capacity of ship hulls. Personal engagement of Mr. Bghin in the
project is kindly acknowledged.

Figure captions
Fig. 1. Stress distribution in ship hull cross-section subject to vertical bending
Fig. 2. Typical cross-section of bulk-carrier
Fig. 3. Typical cross-section of container
Fig. 4. Finite element model of plate
Fig. 5. Load-end shortening curve
Fig. 6. Stress distribution along compressed edge for 05
Fig. 7. Stress distribution along compressed edge for

Rys. 1. Rozkad napre w przekroju poprzecznym kaduba poddanego pionowemu zginaniu
Rys. 2. Typowy przekrj poprzeczny masowca
Rys. 3. Typowy przekrj poprzeczny kontenerowca
Rys. 4. Model obliczeniowy pyty w MES
Rys. 5. Krzywa obcienie - skrcenie
Rys. 6. Rozkad napre wzdu ciskanej krawdzi dla odksztacenia 05
Rys. 7. Rozkad napre wzdu ciskanej krawdzi dla odksztacenia

Tabela 1. Porwnanie nonoci granicznej dla pyt usztywnionych poprzecznie
Tabela 2. Nono graniczna masowcw
Tabela 3. Nono graniczna kontenerowcw