Ocean towing in general, and non-routine tows in particular, present unique technical challenges to towing vessel owners/operators, salvors, the offshore oil/gas and wind industries, and others. When such tows “go wrong”, the harm to human life, property and/or the environment can be significant.

The authors have drawn from their work on the Towing Safety Advisory Committee’s investigation of the grounding of the MODU Kulluk to present methods and considerations in analyzing ocean towing evolutions, both “routine” and “non-routine”. (TASK 14-01)

The methods and considerations presented should be employed in advance of a towing evolution, but can be used in accident reconstruction and forensic analysis when an evolution has failed. The methods presented are iterative, and consider 2 x 6 degree freedom of motion (of the towing vessel(s) and towed vessel respectively) and characteristics of the towline, and facilitate determination of:

Worst Case Conditions.

Extreme Towline Tension (ETT) as a function of sea state and speed.

Limits of the Tow (Go-No Go Criteria).

Recommended Catenary Length as a function of sea state and speed.

Size and Selection of the Towing Vessel and Gear, including:

Required Bollard Pull.

Required Strength, Characteristics and Condition of the Towline.

Limits and Set Points of the Towing Winch, Automatic or Manual.

Required Strength and Characteristics of the Synthetic Emergency Towline and its methods of deployment and connection.

Working Load Limit (WLL) of the Shackles, Delta Plate and Attachment Points.

Required Strength and Characteristics of Bridles, Pendant and Surge Gear/Shock Lines.

The authors further explore the implications of single point failure modes, redundancy in gear and towing vessel(s), high cycle fatigue, and strain monitoring.

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