The paper analyses the diffraction problem of two bottom mounted vertical circular cylinders. The randomness and directional spreading of sea waves are taken into account and a new procedure is proposed to estimate the largest forces on the bodies when extreme waves occur. Firstly extreme forces on the array of cylinders are obtained in two cases: - when a large crest occurs at a given point in the undisturbed wave field (which is the incident wave field in diffraction conditions); - when a large crest-to-trough wave height occurs in the undisturbed wave field. Finally, it is investigated where extreme crests or crest-to-trough heights should occur in order to produce the maximum value of the force on a cylinder. It is shown that, because the second condition is always the most conservative, it is the most suitable to predict design conditions.

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