Floating bridges are a promising solution for replacing ferries in the crossing of Norwegian fjords. Their design involves the adoption of accurate, but at the same time efficient models for the loads the structure is subjected to. Wave drift forces at the bridge’s pontoon may excite the bridge’s lower horizontal modes, with consequences to the loads on the bridge and mooring lines. Newman’s approximation is normally adopted to calculate the wave drift forces in such applications. A common simplification is to assume that the pontoons are fixed in the calculation of wave drift coefficients, while it is known that wave frequency motions may significantly influence drift loads. This paper evaluates the consequences of this simplification, in comparison to coefficients obtained considering the pontoons’ motions. First, the effect of the bridge deflection, due to mean drift, on the pontoon’s motions, is evaluated. It is found that this effect is negligible. Then, the RAOs are used in the calculation of wave drift coefficients, showing very different results than those obtained with fixed pontoons. Time-domain simulations are then performed with wave drift coefficients calculated with both approaches, with focus on the bridge girder moments and mooring line tensions. It is shown that using wave drift coefficients obtained with fixed pontoon is a non-conservative simplification, depending on sea state and wave incidence direction.

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