Inflatable devices that provide reserve buoyancy to damaged ships, preventing capsizing and/or sinking, along with lifting wreckages from the seabed, were studied within the framework of the European funded project “SuSy” (Surfacing System for Ship Recovery). Part of the work involved material evaluation and testing as well as simulations of the structural response. This paper first describes an orthotropic hyperelastic constitutive model for a candidate material also used in the fabrication of prototype inflatable devices. A strain energy density function is proposed that is further used to derive the stress and elasticity tensors required for the numerical implementation of the model in the user-defined subroutine (UMAT) of abaqus/standard. The second part of the paper presents the finite element simulation of the latter stages of inflation of two salvage devices inside an actual double bottom structure. The numerical results are in good agreement with tests conducted in dry land and under water, with the structure raised following the inflation of the devices. The evolving stress state in both the devices and the double bottom structure under increased contact interaction leads to useful conclusions for future use in the development of this salvage system.

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