Design approaches for wave impact on marine structures in storm sea-states are being reconsidered due to events related to the safety of North Sea offshore structures, both fixed and floating (Valhall QP extended lifetime; COSL Innovator accident). There has been a strong research and tool development within the field during the last decade, both within model testing and numerical analysis, including CFD. However, there is still a lack of efficient methods and tools to properly analyze these phenomena and their probably of occurrence. One major aspect in this is to reduce the statistical uncertainties that are naturally arising in estimates of design loads related to extreme waves. In order to estimate the design loads it is common practice not to investigate all possible sea states (i.e. long-term analysis) but to investigate a few sea states and assume that the design value occurs at a prescribed probability level in the sea states with the same probability level (i.e. contour line approach). The estimate of the design value at that probability level is then based on results from a limited number of random realizations of these sea states. For linear or weakly nonlinear response types it is possible to estimate design loads accurately with a quite limited number of realizations. For strongly nonlinear/badly behaved problems however this is not possible due to the large variations in the tail of the distribution of the impact load, and many more realizations are required. This means that much more of these extreme, rare impact-related events should be collected to reduce the statistical uncertainty in the design load. This approach is restricted by time and costs and eventually one may have to accept an estimated design load with a large statistical uncertainty and account for the uncertainty with a higher safety margin.
In this paper an improved methodology for estimating design loads related to extreme wave impacts will be presented. The methodology is based on screening many 3-hour realizations of the design sea states with simplified, fast but sufficiently accurate methods and to focus only on the potentially critical events with a model containing a more complete description of the physics. This can be either a model test or a non-linear impact simulation (i.e. CFD analysis). By doing this many more rare/critical events can be assessed, reducing the statistical uncertainty in the estimate of the design load. The main challenge is to find suitable screening methods, which may be different for different structures (fixed, floating, etc.). Several screening methods/wave impact indicators will be discussed, and their capability will be illustrated by analyzing existing model test data for fixed and floating structures, showing the correlation between indicator and actual impact events.