Knowledge about the level of damage after a collision with an ice mass is necessary for designing ships and offshore structures operating in ice-infested waters. An understanding of the physical processes during such a collision is needed to prevent (or limit) accidents, causing loss of life, the loss of a ship or environmental pollution. This study was motivated by the lack of experimental data on ship collisions with ice masses where both the ship and the structure undergo deformations. Laboratory experiments of accidental collisions with ice masses (ACIM) are essential to verify current methods for integrated analysis of the crushing and deformation of the ice and the steel structure. ACIM tests are sensitive to the structural design, i.e., the design of a structure that is flexible enough in relation to the ice mass. Both the ice and the structure should be able to deform during the collision event. The paper addresses issues related to the planning of ACIM at laboratory scale with special emphasis on the choice of:

(i) process of ice manufacturing and ice mechanical properties;

(ii) flexibility of impacted structure;

(iii) scaling of the experiment.

Experimental setup of laboratory-scale ACIM for the Aalto Ice Tank is proposed. Non-linear finite element analysis is used as a tool to predict structural damage and to guide the planning of collision experiments. The predicted damage of the test specimens caused by collision is presented.

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