Experimental testing of pure translation and rotation loading of drag anchors
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Mobile offshore drilling units are being used in the Gulf of Mexico to produce oil and gas. Anchoring systems such as drag embedment anchors and vertically loaded anchors are used to keep these units in place. Past mooring system failures due to hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 initiated a need to better understand the performance of these anchors to in-plane and out-of-plane loading conditions. In-plane and out-of-plane loading cause the anchor to translate or rotate in the directions of its six degrees of freedom. Behavior and holding capacity of the anchors when loaded in each of is six degrees of freedom are important in understanding and predicting their behavior. An experimental program was devised to investigate the behavior of anchors in pure translation and rotation loading. The scaled-model anchors were embedded at a measured depth in a soil bed of clay with an undrained shear strength between 10 and 20 psf and then loaded to failure. A rotation testing frame was designed to impose rotational loading in the yaw, roll and pitch directions. Test results from the experimental program are consistent and repeatable. The bearing factors for pure bearing fell well within the range of existing experimental and analytical studies on simple plates. Bearing factors for in-plane and out-of-plane shear and for all rotations are higher than those for simple plates due to presence of the shank. When the resistance is normalized by area of the fluke, the wider model provide greater normalized resistance to yawing, similar normalized resistance to pitching and rolling and less normalized resistance to bearing and shearing. It was concluded that the holding capacity of an anchor in its six degrees of freedom depends largely on its geometry, including the fluke and the shank.