The paper addresses the safety of occupants in free-fall lifeboats launched from turret-moored floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. It presents a methodology for assessing operational limits with respect to acceleration-induced loads experienced by the passengers during water entry. The probability of being injured is estimated by means of numerical simulations for several seat rows and in various sea states described in terms of significant wave height and mean wind velocity. Those results are therefore practical for on-site decisions regarding the use of the free-fall lifeboats.

The numerical simulations performed to estimate the 6-degrees of freedom (6-DOF) water entry accelerations in the lifeboats are based on more than 50 years of hindcast metocean data. These consist of sea state parameters provided every third hour and including the significant wave height, the peak period and the direction of both wind-sea and swell as well as the direction and mean velocity of the wind. In a first step, the motion of the FPSO is computed for the whole time period covered by hindcast metocean data, using a state-of-the art numerical model validated against experimental data. The model includes nonlinear excitation forces, a dynamic positioning system with a realistic heading control strategy, mooring line forces as well as turret-hull coupling. The obtained FPSO motion is then used in Monte Carlo simulations of lifeboat launches performed for selected time windows in the original metocean hindcast database corresponding to selected intervals of the significant wave height and mean wind velocity. In addition to the 6-DOF skid motion, the lifeboat launch simulations account for the effects of wind and waves diffracted by the FPSO hull.

Finally, a probabilistic model describing the joint-distribution of several injury types and water entry acceleration parameters computed through the launch simulations is used to evaluate the injury probability. The results are presented in term of seating matrices showing critical seat rows, in which the probability of being injured exceeds a pre-defined threshold.

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