During normal operations, ship and offshore structures, are subjected to combined lateral pressure and in-plane stresses. The effect of the lateral pressure is often ignored in hull girder ultimate assessments. This paper investigates the influence of the lateral pressures on the nonlinear collapse behavior of stiffened panels subjected to in-plane longitudinal stress. In this study, nonlinear finite element analyses were first conducted for the desired pressure alone; the longitudinal stress was then applied up to and beyond the collapse of the structures. Four representative stiffened panels taken from the bottoms of different double hull oil tankers were considered. The nonlinear analyses were performed using LR’s in-house finite element program VAST and following the procedure for nonlinear collapse analysis developed by LR. The numerical results indicated that the application of the initial pressure loads not only reduced the ultimate load carrying capacity of the panels significantly, but also changed the failure modes of the structures. The sensitivity of the ultimate strength to lateral pressure was dependent upon the panel geometry and whether the pressure was applied on the plate or the stiffener side. The numerical results and findings from this study are presented in this paper.

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