The time-varying effect of axial tension has recently attracted increasing focus when investigating vortex-induced vibration (VIV) for flexible cylinders. This paper applies an alternative time domain force–decomposition model to predict VIV response, in which the structural stiffness will be updated at each time step to take the tension variation into account. Firstly, the adopted numerical model is compared against the latest published experimental results of a small-scale cylinder with constant and time-varying tensions. Then, extensive cases of a long flexible cylinder are designed to investigate the tension time-varying effect on structural response and fatigue damage respectively. Several new response characteristics different from the constant tension case are analyzed from the VIV mechanism level. Fatigue analysis also reveals the influence laws of the amplitude and frequency of varying tension. Mathieu-type resonance between VIV and time-varying tension excitation is captured, under which structural response as well as fatigue damage will enlarge significantly. Some conclusions drawn by this research can provide reference at the engineering design stage of marine slender structures.

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