Large arrays of interconnected pontoons have been developed in the past for structures such as bridges when connected in a line, and are also being considered for a range of projects such as floating harbours, and even airports when these arrays are extended to mat-like structures. The benefits of these forms of structures are described. Whereas a number of authors have performed experimental work to establish motions response and to develop numerical models for arrays with pure flexing, pure hinged, or otherwise rigid interconnections, little work has been carried out to date to examine the response of the array as a result of more realistic connections such as have already been introduced into service. This paper presents the global structural response of pontoon arrays using such practical freely rotating inter-pontoon connections which bind beyond a limiting rotation. These are modelled theoretically for long arrays. The effects of variable loading are considered and comparisons with the results of model tests are made. Some interesting and unexpected observations arise which are accounted for in the theoretical solution developed. These relate to determining the locking and more particularly the unlocking criteria which are utilised within the global structural stiffness formulation. It is shown that connections which initially lock as a result of pontoon section submergence on loading may be required to unlock as loading is increased (with possible subsequent locking/unlocking as loading is increased further or otherwise altered).
The aims of this work have been to consider the behaviour of a mat multipli-connected floating structure, with special hinge-rigid connections, owing to static and dynamic loading. The principal differences between the work reported herein (which considers various static loading conditions) and that by others relate to the type of connections, and the arrangement of the structure.