The last decade Equinor has taken a significant amount of mooring chains out of service. Typically, one mooring line for an offshore installation has been replaced. Purpose has been to assess whether current chain condition (corrosion and wear), make the remaining chains fit for further use. The chains have been subject to thorough inspection, break load testing and fatigue testing. Depending on results of the inspection and tests, the remaining mooring chains have either been replaced or found fit for further use.
From one installation, smaller cracks on the inside of the crown of chain links have been observed. These cracks do not coincide with known fatigue hot spots or fatigue breakages from fatigue testing of chains. Many cracks are visible with the bare eye, and NDT techniques are not necessary for detection. Chains with such cracks have been subject to both break load testing and fatigue testing. Overload breakage and fatigue cracks have not occurred or developed from the cracks. Chain links with cracks have been dissected to investigate crack depth. Dissection has also aimed to assess the age of the cracks. Both chain links that have and have not been subject to full scale fatigue testing have been dissected. This paper presents example of the observed cracks, including details on link location in the mooring line, crack positions in links, and measured depth and length of cracks. The paper also discusses the different possible causes of the cracks, and whether the cracks are critical for the endurance of the chains.