The evacuation of personnel from offshore installations in severe weather conditions is generally ensured by free-fall lifeboats. Their performance can be assessed by means of numerical simulations to estimate accelerations loads on occupants, structural loads on the lifeboat hull, as well as forward speed after water-exit. These parameters strongly depend on the water entry conditions of the lifeboat, which in turn are very sensitive to the previous phases of the launch that starts on the skid. On floating production, storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels in the Norwegian Sea, lifeboats are often installed on skids at the bow so that waves may induce large skid motions with typical extreme vertical amplitude of fifteen to twenty meters in a 100-year storm condition. Moreover, wave-induced motions may also cause trim and list of the skid, which initiates more complex six degrees-of-freedom trajectories during free-fall. In such conditions, a proper modelling of the lifeboat trajectory on the moving skid is necessary in order to assess the performance of the lifeboat with numerical simulations.

This paper investigates the effects of the wave-induced skid motion on the launch of free-fall lifeboats from floating hosts. The first part of the paper describes the six-degrees-of-freedom numerical skid model used in MARINTEK’s lifeboat launch simulator VARUNA. The second part presents two model test campaigns aimed at validating the numerical skid model. The model test results are compared to those obtained from the numerical simulations. Finally, the importance of the skid motion on the lifeboat trajectory is discussed.

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