This work investigates the feasibility of the numerical methods for analyzing the ultimate strength of a ship hull. Taking into account the effects of geometric and material nonlinear factors, the similarity criterion of the ultimate strength of the ship hull is derived by the directional dimensional analysis. The simplified scale model was designed by similarity criterion. The ultimate strength experiment of the simplified scaled model of the ship hull is conducted. Then, the ultimate strength of the simplified scaled model structure is obtained based on the model experimental results. The ultimate strength of the ideal scaled model hull and the simplified scaled model is also gained by the nonlinear finite element method. Finally, the simulation results are compared with the model test results. It is shown that the simplified method can be used to study on the ultimate strength of complex prototype ship and the numerical results are in good agreement with the experimental results.


Since the concept of ultimate bearing capacity was proposed by Vasta (1958), the ultimate strength of ship hulls has become a hot research topic in the field of ship structural mechanics. With the in-depth study on the failure property and the interaction mechanism of the damaged components of the ship hull, the existing methods for assessing the ultimate strength of the ship hull can be classified into three categories:

  • experiment;

  • direct methods;

  • Progressive collapse analysis (Qi and Cui, 2006).

First, the experimental methods can be divided into ship accident investigation and model test, such as the Nami-scale defense ship test by Sugimura et al. (1966), classic girder model test by Dowling et al. (1976) and inland river ship's ultimate strength test by Yang (2005). In addition, a number of scholars have carried out some exploratory experiments of a combination of experimental and simulation methods (Xu and Cui, 2000; Wu and Xu et al., 2011). The collapse mode and mechanism of the ship under extreme loads were studied in their researches. The similarity theory was applied in these experimental studies.

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