As the offshore industry moves into deeper water, the dynamic behavior of structures becomes a very important parameter in the overall design procedures. In particular, the cyclic nature of wave loads has a significant effect on the fatigue life of the structure. This paper presents a procedure for fatigue analysis where the dynamic response of the structure is analyzed through a spectral approach. The sea waves which constitute the forcing function acting on the structure are represented as energy spectra; the response is obtained in spectral terms and is subsequently interpreted according to probabilistic concepts. As part of this study we have considered the characteristics of the distribution of the response. In the usual approach to fatigue analysis one assumes that the peaks of the response follow a Rayleigh distribution. This assumption is valid if the Cartwright-Longuet-Higgins’ measure of bandwidth (ε) is equal to zero. However, in practical fatigue applications, this idealization is rarely, if ever, encountered. Thus, in order to better characterize narrow-banded phenomena, we have investigated descriptions which do not assume ε = 0. An investigation of caisson designs indicates that fatigue using the more accurate response distributions can differ appreciably from those obtained with the Rayleigh distribution.

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