Ship speed and heading distributions are essential inputs for spectral fatigue analysis, and both may depend on wave conditions. Because rough-weather operational changes are rarely well defined, uncertainties in these distributions can introduce error in fatigue assessments. The influence of speed and relative heading distribution on fatigue estimates has not been thoroughly examined in the existing literature. This study investigates the influence of ship speed and relative heading distributions on fatigue damage accumulation of two sister naval ships. To represent uncertainties, 16 different operating profiles were used, including a baseline profile created from operator surveys and measurements. Fatigue damage estimates are calculated from a spectral analysis of four structural locations near midship. A linear frequency-domain seakeeping code provides the wave loads. The corresponding stresses are calculated using linear finite element analysis. Efforts to maintain seakeeping quality and crew readiness are reflected in the baseline profile with rough-weather speed and course changes. Ignoring these operational changes leads to reductions in estimated fatigue damage of up to 34% relative to the baseline estimate. This nonconservative result emphasizes the importance of understanding how operators manage rough wave conditions.

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