In many marine applications, modern high-performance synthetic fibre ropes have replaced, and are continuing to replace, well-known steel wire rope solutions due to the low weight of the synthetic ropes removing limitations for operations at large water depths. In some cases, replacement of steel wires with synthetic ropes has caused permanent deformations and damage to multilayer winch drums, indicating that synthetic fibre ropes can cause larger pressure on winch drums than steel wire. This paper presents the first results from a novel experimental investigation of a multilayer winch subjected to a selection of braided high-performance synthetic fibre ropes and a reference steel wire rope. The tested ropes, with nominal diameters between 12 and 20mm, are spooled at different tensile loads and with maximum number of layers in the range of 10 to 19. The experiments utilize a test rig with two winch drums, controllable spooling gear and sheaves with load cells to apply and control required load and speed during spooling. Measurements from twelve biaxial strain gauges on the inside of a thick high-strength drum are used to measure stresses in the structure. The results show that the selected fibre ropes induce considerably larger stress in the winch drum than the steel wire rope. This confirms that design of multilayer winch drums with high-performance synthetic fibre ropes requires special considerations and that the guidance for multilayer stress calculations, related to steel wire ropes, in DNV-GL-0378 “Standard for offshore and platform lifting appliances” is not applicable for synthetic fibre rope applications.

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