A free fall lifeboat is going through several phases during a drop; sliding on the skid, rotation on skid, free fall, water entry, ventilation, maximum submergence, resurfacing and the sailing phase. In the sailing phase, the engine is running, providing propeller thrust, and the vessel is exposed to wind and waves while trying to run away from the host.

CFD simulations of the lifeboat in the sailing phase have been run in regular Stokes 5th order waves, as well as simulations in irregular seas. The regular waves have been set up with different wave heights and wave periods. The set-up of waves have been done to fulfil the requirements in DNV-OS-E406, which is the DNV-GL offshore standard for design of free fall lifeboats.

Validation of the CFD models are done with comparison to model tests from calm water tests as well as self-propelled model tests in waves. Results from full scale tests in calm water and in waves are also used in validation of CFD results.

The hydrodynamic problem solved for 3 degrees-of-freedom (DOF) free running model in waves with thrust force from propeller is solved using the CFD software Star CCM+.

A method for estimating thrust coefficient with a combination of full scale calm water results and results from CFD simulations is presented.

The CFD simulations have shown to give acceptable accuracy for lifeboat in a seaway. Further, the CFD simulations have shown to be very useful for demonstrating fulfilment of requirements in the offshore standard for lifeboats in the sailing phase.

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