Offshore operations in ice-covered waters are drawing considerable interest from both the public and private sectors. Such operations may require vessels to keep position during various activities, such as lifting, installation, crew change, evacuation, and possibly drilling. In deep waters, mooring solutions become uneconomical and, therefore, dynamic positioning (DP) systems are attractive. However, global loads from drifting sea ice can be challenging for stationkeeping operations of DP vessels. To address this challenge, the current paper investigates DP in level ice conditions using experimental and numerical approaches. The experimental part describes a set of ice model tests which were performed at the large ice tank of the Hamburg Ship Model Basin (HSVA) in the summer and autumn of 2012. Experimental design, instrumentation, methods, and results are presented and discussed. The numerical part presents a novel model for simulating DP operations in level ice, which treats both the vessel and the ice floes as separate independent bodies with six degrees-of-freedom. The fracture of level ice is calculated on-the-fly based on numerical solution of the ice material failure equations, i.e., the breaking patterns of the ice are not precalculated. The numerical model is connected to a DP controller and the two systems interchange data dynamically and work in a closed-loop. The structures of the models, as well as the physical and mathematical assumptions, are discussed in the paper. Finally, several ice basin experiments are reproduced in the numerical simulator, and the results of the physical and numerical tests are compared and discussed.

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