Case Study: Evaluation of a Floating Steel Fender System for Bridge Pier Protection against Vessel Collision

Vessel collisions with bridges occur frequently worldwide and have the potential to cause enormous casualties, substantial property loss, and environmental destruction. Physical protection systems designed for bridge piers against vessel collisions are viable solutions to alleviate/prevent those disruption costs. This paper introduces a floating steel fender system for bridge pier protection and evaluates the performance using an explicit dynamic finite-element analysis code. The analysis method is validated against available drop-weight impact tests of a steel box module, because the steel fender system is constructed by repeatedly stacking and aligning a similar subassembly. The introduced fender system noticeably reduced the peak impact force applied on a bridge pier by approximately 55.3% and on the colliding vessel by approximately 56.2% while extending the impact duration approximately 273.1% as compared to the head-on collision without any protection. It was also shown that the initial kinematic energy of the barge before impact was mainly dissipated by plastic deformation of the steel module (57.5%) and colliding barge (16.5%), as well as the damage of the rubber dampers after impact. The results indicate that the floating steel fender system has excellent energy-absorbing capabilities.


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  • Accession Number: 01601997
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, ASCE
  • Created Date: May 25 2016 3:04PM