Design codes for offshore mooring systems recommend proof loading chain links to around 70% of the specified breaking load of the chain (API RP 2FP1, Lloyd’s Register). This is primarily to check that the chain will safely resist the service loads and will not excessively elongate. It is assumed that the proof load also generates compressive residual stresses at the interlink contact region and also at the point of the intrados (KT point) where a high stress concentration occurs during tensile loading. Tests have shown that proof loading improves the fatigue performance of chain under cyclic axial loads.
Elastic-plastic finite element analyses of the proof loading have been performed. These analyses have shown that the proof loading also generates very high tensile residual stresses in the region surrounding the interlink contact zone. This region also experiences significant in-service cyclic stresses under cyclic tension or out-of-plane bending. The combination of the cyclic stresses and high tensile residual stress is of concern and it is proposed that the periphery of the interlink contact zone should be carefully reviewed. It is understood that chain link fatigue at present is only based on the risk of fatigue damage at the KT point.
This paper presents and discusses results of finite element stress analyses of studless chains of different sizes and grades, and show the relative fatigue sensitivity of the KT and contact regions. The chain grade, dimensions and loading regime are shown to be important.