Today, it is common practice to carry out fatigue assessments of ship structures using direct calculation procedures. A direct calculation analysis of a ship’s fatigue strength involves hydrodynamic analysis, stress response evaluation followed by fatigue damage calculation. Many numerical codes are available for these types of analyses. They could yield different values in a fatigue life prediction because of the different degrees of complexity in the computation of the ship’s response. For example, hydrodynamic loads can be calculated using the strip theory or the panel method. The stress response to these loads can be computed using a beam theory or more advanced analyses, such as global and/or local finite element analyses. In a direct fatigue analysis for ship design, spectral methods have been dominating but there is a growing interest in time-domain fatigue damage calculation procedures. The objective of the current investigation is to compare four commonly used direct calculation methods against measurement data. The comparison is carried out by making a case study on a Panamax container ship on which full-scale measurements have been performed. The computational efforts involved in the application of the current direct calculation methods are compared and their applicability in ship fatigue design is discussed.

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