Most deepwater tubulars experiencing high currents frequently require vortex-induced vibration (VIV) suppression to maintain an acceptable fatigue life. While helical strakes and fairings are by far the most popular VIV suppression devices used in the offshore industry today, a myriad of small alternations to these basic devices can significantly impact the observed levels of suppression effectiveness. Additionally, numerous novel VIV reduction devices are continually being developed and some new devices are progressing towards the product readiness phase.

It is quite common to first test suppression devices at low Reynolds numbers due to the availability of smaller scale facilities that are typically more budget-friendly than larger scale facilities. For larger scale testing, it is usually simpler and less expensive to evaluate prototype suppression devices on shorter pipe sections that are spring mounted rather than test on longer flexible pipes.

This paper utilizes results from historical VIV experiments to evaluate the merits of various test setups and scales and to underscore the importance of Reynolds number. An assortment of testing scales are presented including: a) small diameter tests at low Reynolds numbers; b) moderate diameter tests that incorporate at least part of the critical Reynolds number range; c) short pipe tests conducted at prototype Reynolds numbers; and d) long pipe tests conducted at high Reynolds numbers but at less than full scale suppression geometry. The use of computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is also briefly discussed.

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