Synthetic fibre ropes are in widespread use in maritime applications ranging from lifting to temporary and permanent mooring systems for vessels, offshore equipment and platforms. The selection of synthetic ropes over conventional steel components is motivated by several key advantages including selectable axial stiffness, energy absorption (and hence load mitigation), fatigue resistance and low unit cost. The long-term use of ropes as safety critical components in potentially high dynamic loading environments necessitates that new designs are verified using stringent qualification procedures. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is one certification body that has produced several guidelines for the testing of synthetic ropes encompassing quasi-static and dynamic loading as well as fatigue cycling.

This paper presents the results of tension-tension tests carried out to ISO 2307:2010, ISO 18692:2007(E) and ISO/TS 19336:2015(E) on three different 12-strand rope constructions manufactured by Ashimori Industry Co. Ltd from polyester and Vectran® fibres. The purpose of the tests was to characterise the performance of a novel 12-strand construction and compare this to a conventional 12-strand construction. Utilising the Dynamic Marine Component test facility (DMaC) at the University of Exeter several key performance metrics were determined including; elongation, minimum break load (MBL) and quasi-static and dynamic stiffness. During the ISO 2307:2010(E) test programme the samples were tested dry and during the ISO 18692:2007(E) and ISO/TS 19336:2015(E) test programmes the samples were fully submerged in tap water after being soaked for at least 24 hours. Two methods were used to quantify sample extension: i) an optical tracking system and ii) a draw-wire potentiometer. Axial compression fatigue and cyclic loading endurance tests were also carried out on two Vectran® samples. Further load-to-failure tests and sample analysis were also carried out by Ashimori Industry Co. Ltd.

It was found that the MBL of the samples exceeded the values specified by the manufacturer (by 7.7–29.5% for the polyester samples) with failure occurring at the splices in all cases and minor abrasion noted in several locations. The measured MBL of the novel polyester Straight Strand Rope (SSR) construction was up to 16% higher than the conventional construction with increases of quasi-static and dynamic stiffness of up to 6.8%. Differences between the viscoelastic and viscoplastic behaviour of the samples were also noted. The data obtained during these tests will provide insight into the behaviour of these materials and different rope constructions which will be of use to rope manufacturers, mooring system designers in addition to offshore equipment and vessel operators.

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