Structural members of FPSO hulls often undergo fairly large static loading before they enter service or variable amplitude cyclic loading when they are in service. The combined effect of both applied stress and high initial residual stress is expected to cause shakedown of the residual stresses. Only a few papers seem to deal with appropriate procedures for fatigue analysis by considering the combined effect of variable amplitude cyclic loading with shakedown of residual stresses. Hence, the fatigue behaviour of welded joints in some experiments could not be explained reasonably well. In this paper, some typical welded connections in ship-shaped structures are investigated with 3-D elastic-plastic finite element analysis. The effect of residual stress relaxation, initial residual stress and the applied load after variable amplitude cyclic loading is revealed, and a formula for predicting the residual stress at hot spot quantitatively is proposed. Based on the formula, an improved fatigue procedure is introduced. The proposed fatigue procedure was validated against the experimental results. Therefore, the modified fatigue procedure could be applied to welded joints under arbitrary cyclic loading while accounting for shakedown of residual stresses.

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