Free fall lifeboats have been developed for emergency evacuation from offshore installations, when conventional means of transportation cannot be applied. As a consequence, the ability of the lifeboats to perform safe drop- and sail away under all circumstances has to be demonstrated. This paper focuses on efficient and robust numerical simulation of these operations.

To predict the lifeboat behavior under a large variety of stochastic conditions, such as irregular waves, in combination with wind and current, calls for many individual simulations of the sailaway performance. The present paper presents a brand new mathematical model that is able to predict the behavior of a free fall lifeboat during drop-phase, the submerged phase, the surfacing phase and the “sailing in waves” phase (combined, not gluing time traces from different predictions together).

The proposed mathematical model is completely non-linear in nature and considers instantaneous submergence and attitude of the lifeboat. All forces and moments in 6 degrees of freedom are calculated instantaneously.

Consequently, accelerations, velocities and displacements, are calculated based on this. The paper describes the build-up of the mathematical model. This is based on a summation of forces due to impact forces, cross flow drag forces, generated lift, centrifugal forces, buoyancy forces, propulsion (propeller and nozzle), steering forces due to steering action and resistance. Obviously, also the instantaneous added masses play an important role. This results in a mathematical model for rigid body motions in 6 degrees of freedom, which can be used for predicting the motion response during drop- and sail away. This means a validity range in very extreme weather and in calm water. The paper will show basic validation and several applications.

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