Grouted connections represent a common joining technique between substructure and foundation piles of offshore oil & gas platforms as well as of offshore wind turbines. Due to cyclic loads arising from wind and wave actions the fatigue performance of the connection has to be considered. In lattice substructures like jackets the grouted connections are located at seabed level being fully submerged during their entire lifetime. Today’s fatigue design regulations are based on investigations neglecting any influence of the surrounding water since they were conducted in dry ambient conditions. So far, only Germanischer Lloyd gives additional recommendations for submerged grouted connections.
At the Institute for Steel Construction, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany investigations of the joint research project ‘GROWup’ focus on the fatigue performance of axially loaded grouted connections. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi, funding sign: 0325290) and is the third project in a row dealing with grouted connections. As part of this research project, cyclic loading tests on small-scale and large-scale grouted connections with shear keys are conducted. Small-scale fatigue tests showed a reduced number of endurable load cycles for connections when tested in wet ambient conditions.
However, the transferability of these findings to a larger scale was still doubtful due to unknown scale effects. Therefore, the impact of water on the fatigue performance was tested recently at large-scale grouted connections. Previous to the submerged large-scale grouted connection fatigue tests, similar test specimens were exposed to alternating loads at dry ambient conditions. Comparison of both large-scale test results under wet and dry conditions enable to estimate the influence of water on the fatigue performance of grouted connections. Reflection of the small-scale test results gives hints on the scale effect. Test preparation, test results and design recommendations are presented in the paper.