15 Aug 2013
August 15, 2013

Marine Fenders Design Basis

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The design of a marine fender system deserves as much attention as the design of any other element of the structure of which it is a part. The selection of fender system and type and the selection of the system and type of structure should be interactive.

The fender should be designed in such way that:

1. the berthing of the vessel to the berth facility takes place without damage;
2. the vessel and the berth (including the fenders) do not get damaged when the vessel is moored;
3. the periods of operation and safety are extended as much as possible.

The design process of a fender system could follow these steps:

1. determination of the functional programme of requirements;
2. determination of operational aspects;
3. assessment of the site conditions;
4. calculation of the energy to be absorbed by fender (during berthing or when moored);
5. select a suitable fender system and type based on the energy and above criteria;
6. determine the reaction force and related friction force;
7. check impact of the forces on the structure and on the vessel and the implications of the selected fender for the face of the structure; aspects to be considered are e.g.; The berthing model, geometry for bulbous bow and fender spacing are shown on the Vessel Approach Figure 2.3.1, and Island Berths Figures 2.3.2 & 2.3.3.

Figure 2.3.1

Figure 2.3.2

Figure 2.3.3

The above process may have to be repeated several times to select the most optimal fender for the specific situation. There are numerous fender brands and each of those brands offers various types of fenders and most often several standard dimensions for each fender type. It is the task of the design engineer to select the fender of which the specified characteristics meet (or come closest to) the design requirements.

Note that the design criteria for Abnormal Berthing should be addressed before selection the fender layout.

It is strongly recommended that an appropriate testing regime is established to ensure that the final fendering system meets the design criteria.
Of course, the manufacturer of the fender should arrange for a qualified testing regime so that all parties can be sure of the material characteristics and the fender’s performance (as indicated in the manufacturers’ brochures).


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