Wind Loads on Offshore Structures
. van Walree Maritime Research Institute Netherlands (MARIN),
P.O. Box 28, 6700 AA Wageni,ngen, The Netherlands
. Willemsen National Aerospace Laboratories NLR,
P.O. Box 153, 8300 AD Emmeloord, The Netherlands
SUMMARY
A new computational model for determining the wind loads on off
shore structures is described. This model aims to bridge the gap
between calculation procedures provided by the classification
societies and wind tunnel testing. The new model is based on the
socalled building block approach, whereby the structure is thought
to be composed of standard components with known force characteris
tics. Special attention is given to the modelling of the wind flow
field, component interaction and lift forces on elevated and in
clined main decks. Three comparisons between experimental and cal
culated results are given for typical offshore structures. These
comparisons show that the results obtained by using the new compu
tational model are much closer to the experimental values than
those obtained from the classification society rules.
1. INTRODUCTION
Wind forces contribute significantly to the total environmental
loads on offshore structures. Drag forces are of importance for
moori.ng, dynamic positioning and manoeuvring of floating struc
tures. Stability of floating and fixed structures may be affected
by overturning moments due to drag and lift forces. Knowledge of
these loads is therefore indispensable for the design and operation
of such structures.
From the point of view of the wind flow field and wind induced
pressures, offshore platforms and vessels are rather complex. Semi
submersible drilling rigs, jackups with huge cantilever legs,
floating production and storage units and crane vessels, to mention
only a few, display a large variety of columns, work decks, super
structures, derricks, heli decks etcetera.

Commonly followed routes to obtain the wind force data for such
complicated shapes are:
 simple calculation methods as provided by classification
societies ( see ABS [ l] and DnV [ 21 ) ;
 wind tunnel tests.
The first method is easily applicable and requires little time but
the accuracy is limited, primarily because lift effects on decks
and interaction effects between adjacent members are neglected.
Wind tunnel tests, when performed correctly, provide realistic re
sults but are rather timeconsuming and expensive. For further in
sight into these matters reference is made to Boonstra and Leynse
[3] and Macha and Reid [4] . 
l,
In order to bridge the gap between the methods outlined above, in
1987 a joint industry development study was carried out. This study
aimed at the development of an advanced computational model for de
termining wind forces on arbitrary offshore structures. The project
was carried out by MARIN in close cooperation with NLR as part of
the Netherlands Marine Technological Research (MaTS) program. The
project was sponsored and supervised by the following companies:
De Hoop (~obith);
GUSTO Engineering;
Maritime Project Engineering;
Rijkswaterstaat;
Shell Internationale Petroleum Maatschappij;
Verolme Trust;
WijsmulLer Engineering.
In an early stage of the study, detailed requirements as to the
computational mode1 were derived. ~pplications of the mode1 as
foreseen, required the validity of the method for arbitrary off
shore structures. Wind loads in 6 degrees of freedom for arbitrary
orientations (wind directions) and heel angles up to 20 degrees had
to be calculated. Furthermore the accuracy of the model had to be
improved significantly when compared with existing calculation pro
cedures.
Since the resulting computer program had to be used in various
design and engineering studies at small offshore engineering of
fices, the program had to run on mini and personal computers with
a reasonable performance.
:
Based on these requirements a new computational model has been de
>
veloped, whereby the physical model was derived from classical
aerodynamics and empirical formulations. Data bases with additional
information completed the computational model.
0
The computational model developed in this study has been imple
mented in a Fortran 77 computer program by MARIN.
Extensive wind tunnel experiments have been carried out in the low
speed wind tunnel (3.0 X 2.25 m) of NLR. The experimental program
was carried out, to provide data for derivation of empirical formu
lations, to complete relevant data bases and in order to verify the
overall model..
2. COMPUTATIONAL CONCEPT
The various project demands set the trend of alternative approaches
to the computational model. Possible approaches are:
 theoretical methods;
 correction methods;
 fully empirical methods:
 building block methods (as applied by ABS and DnV).
Theoretical methods for flows around complex bluff bodies like off
shore structures are not available, although programs for single
bluff bodies have appeared recently, see Van Oortmerssen et al.
[5]. These programs can only run on large and very fast mainframe
units. As such, application of these methods is out of the ques
tion.
The correction method is based on wind tunnel test data of struc
tures similar to the proposed design. By adding and subtracting
certain parts of the construction, and at the same time correcting
the wind load, one can obtain the wind loads on the structure. This
method is based on the availability of suitable test data which may
form a problem especially for new designs. Furthermore, interaction
effects will not be proper1,y accounted for.
Empirical, formulations also need a set of wind tunnel data for each
type of offshore structure. The more data available the higher the
accuracy of empirical relations. Again, a good prediction for an
unusual or new type of construction is not possible. Also, a com
parison based on wind loads of a series of prototypes with the same
main dimensions but with for example alternative deck lay outs,
will in general not be possible.
The building block method does not rely on data of similar designs;
it can be applied to any structure provided the characteristics of
its components are known. The accuracy of this method however, is
strongly related to a proper inclusion of several physical flow
phenomena.
Considering these methods, it was thought that the building block
method would be the most promising one. Its flexibility and
physical correctness play an important role. The following items
form the fundamentals of the physical model:
 force characteristics of the standard components;
 wind velocity field;
 determination of component interaction;
 forces on inclined structures.
These topics will be discussed in detail in the next section.
3. PHYSICAL MODEL
3.1 Standard Components
The basis of the calculation method is formed by a set of three
dimensional geometrical components with known force characteris
tics. These characteristics are reflected by three force coeffi
cients (for the drag, side and lift force) and the centre of effort
of each force component. The characteristics of the components are
mainly obtained from published results of model experiments. By
means of the following five types of standard components, an ade
quate description of offshore structures can be given:
 circular cyli.nders ;
 rectangular prisms;
 flat plates;
 lattice structures;
 ship hulls.
The description of the force characteristics of circular cylinders
includes effects due to the Reynolds number (flow separation), sur
face roughness, flow turbulence, cylinder inclination, aspect ratio
and taper. Fig. 1 shows the drag coefficient for twodimensional
(infinite aspect ratio) circular cylinders. The horizontal axis
I
represents the effective Reynolds number which is corrected for
t
flow turbulence and surface roughness.
 .    . 
R,, = Reynolds nunber
v E/O = relative surface roughness
Fig. 1. Drag Coeffici.ents for Circular Cylinders
Drag, side and lift force coefficients for rectangular prisms were
derived as a function of the prisms relative dimensions and
inclination angle. The side force may be comparable in magnitude
with the drag force and may therefore add substantially to the
total overturning moment on offshore structures. Surface mounted
prisms may experience an appreciable lift force due to the acceler
ated flow and accompanying reduced pressure over the top face. As
the boundary layer separation points are fixed at the sharp cor
ners, no significant Reynolds number effects occur. Also, since the
forces are predominantly determined by pressure forces and not by
skin friction, the surface roughness of the prism's sides is irrel
evant.
For flat plates normal to the flow, only a drag force arises. At
incidence, a lift and a side force are introduced which are depen
dent on the incidence angle and the aspect ratio, see Fig. 2. The
tangential force is negligible and Reynolds number effects for full
scale conditi.ons may be neglected. The centre of effort positi.on of
the force component is also dependent on incidence and aspect ra
tio. The lifting characteristics of flat plates may be of partic
ular interest for the prediction of the forces due to helicopter
decks subjected to a platform induced upflow.
A = DYIDX
DY = PLATE WIDTH
For the prediction
of forces on lattice
structures, a bulk
method is used where
the forces are ob
tained from empiri
cal data relating
C
the force coeffi
1.6
cient for a single
0.25
framework to it S
2.00 overall shape and
solidity ratio. An
allowance is pro
vided for the effect
111,
o 10 20 3: 4 Ib Qo 70 80 PO ( d*J. i of shielding for
downstream frames.
Fig. 2. Normal Force Coefficients for
Flat Plates
The data base provides force coefficients for a wide variety of
Lattice structures. Three basic arrangements of chord members are
considered: a triangular, a square and a rectangular arrangement.
The bracing configuration is arbitrary since the solidity ratio of
the configuration is the main variable. The structural. members may
either be of the angular (flat faced) or the circular type.
Wind load coefficients for ship hulls were again derived from wind
tunnel tests. The contribution of the several superstructure compo
nents was subtracted from the total measured wind loads. In this
way, the corrected force coefficients may be used for ships with an
arbitrary superstructure configuration.
3.2 Wind Velocity Field and Component Interaction
For the transfer of a force coefficient for a specific component to
an actual force, knowledge is required of the component area and
mean dynamic pressure. The first follows from the model descrip
tion; the latter is determined from the mean value over the wind
area A of the component. An componentbounded effective wind speed
ve is defined:
V : = & v2(y,z) dydz (1
For the undisturbed atmospheric boundary layer the wind velocity
increase with height is commonly expressed in t.he powerlaw repre
sentation:
where V, denotes the reference wind speed at the reference height
zr. The exponent value p will range between 0.10 and 0.15 for most
practical purposes.
Local windspeeds may deviate from the powerlaw profile due to
various effects like the occurrence of separated flow regions, t.he
circulation around a lift generating main deck and the presence of
other deck components. The combined effect of these disturbances
will lead to a highly complex velocity field. For the flow along an
elevated main deck the following equations were derived from Hess
C61 :
where t is the body thickness and X and z are the local coordi
nates, see Fig. 3.
These formulations, basically valid for the potential flow around
flat nosed bodies, agree for the flow outside the separation zone,
along the main deck centre line. Experimental data were used for
corrections of the velocity components V, and V, accounting for
flow separation and threedimensional effects (near the deck
edges). Fig. 3 shows the computed streamlines for two main deck
types.
To account for the reduced velocities in an elements wake, the
following description was taken from Schlichting [ 7 ] :
where b is the wake
width, CD is the upstream
component drag coeffi
cient, dw is the upstream
component width and X and
y denote a local coordi
nate system, see Figure
4. The exponents pl and
'
p2 have a value dependent
on the aspect ratio of
the upstream member.
The equations (4) and (5)
may only be used for not
too short distances be
_U_J
tween the two bodies. For
short distances the wake
e of the upstream body is
Fig. 3. Flow Fields along Elevated too much affected by the
Main Decks presence of the down
stream one. In that case
data obtained from literature and from special wind tunnel experi
ments were used. These data also account for effects due to the
bodies aspect ratio, flow enhancement and multiple interaction.
3.3 Forces on Inclined Structures
For the discussion of the various principles, columnsupported
structures will be taken as starting point. Surface vessels then
form a group with the limiting condition of a zero airgap. The
basic ideas are drawn from classical aerodynamic theories on lif
ting bodies, like the wing theory. The features for a specific
platform are a rather linear lift curve with a positive lift in
level condition, a lift induced drag increase at inclined condi
tions and a lift increase due to the proximity of the sea surface.
As pointed out by various investigators the lift may be rather high
and important because of its contribution to the overturning moment
[8,9]
The present work demonstrates an increased importance of the lift
because of its contribution to the drag. Physically, the lift gene
rating entity of a platform is the main deck. To compare t.he test
results of various platforms as available in open literature and at
NLR, the presented drag and lift coefficients were recal.culated
with appropriate reference values for area and dynamic pressure.
The applied reference values were the main deck area and the mean
dynamic pressure over the height range of the main deck boundaries.
2
In general the test results showed rather linear CL(a) and C (C )
D L
relations for inclination angles up to, say 15 degrees.
 I
V(Y)
Fig. 4. Velocity Reduction due to Shielding
The lift curves also showed a posi.tive lift at a = 0 degrees (level
condition), indicating that a platform is subjected to an upflow
angle aO, caused by the presence of platform columns and sea boun
dary. Therefore, an effective pitch angle aeff is defined:
a
eff
= a + a
0
where a is the main deck pitch angle with respect to the wind axes
system.
The relation between CL and oreff is calculated from literature,
accounting for the thickness ratio t/c and aspect ratio A ( = b2/~)
of the main deck thickness, excluding the contribution of large
protruding elements.
The definitions of b and c, i.e. platform main deck dimensions in
the wind axes system, imply that for a noncircular main deck A and
t/c vary with the wind direction 8 .
For t/c < 0.05 the lift curve is assumed to be linear, with a lift
curve slope C calculated by applying the Jones edgevelocity
La
correction to Anderson's formula on basic and additional lift dis
tribution [l01 :
For larger values of t/c this thickness parameter will affect the
lift curve slope in a nonlinear way, i.e. also dependent on the
value of aeff. Experimental data [l11 were used to modify the above
relation accordingly.
The upflow angle a. is estimated from the calculated drag distribu
tion along the platform and the airgap geometry by means of an
empirical relation.
For a wide variety of platforms the typical value of a . was 5 to 10
degrees.
Wind tunnel experiments showed that with decreasing airgap between
main deck and simulated sea surface the lift is increasing, without
significantly affecting the drag. This indicates that the main deck
is subjected to a "ground induced" upflow angle and that the dynam
ic pressure remains unaffected. Ground effects on a lifting wing,
which are represented by a bound vortex along the span and trailing
vortices from the tips, result in a dynamic pressure increase from
the planeimaged bound vortex and in an induced upflow angle from
the planeimaged trailing vortices. Apparently, for a platform only
the imaged trailing vortices play a significant role. To correct
for this phenomenon the following correction formula, valid for a
wing with eliiptic Lift distribution along the span [12], is ap
plied:
2zeff) 0.768
with 5 = e x p (  2 . 4 8 ( ~ 1
where zeff is the height halfway the wing trailing edge and the
wing aerodynamic centre. Similarly, we define:
It will be clear that. this procedure may be considerably improved
when more is known about the actually nonelliptic lift distribu
tion and corresponding vortex system of main decks at various
thickness ratios, particularly for the relatively thick main decks
(t/c greater than approximately 0.35).
With t he above descr i bed procedure t he l i f t curve of a s pe c i f i c
pl at f or m i s cal cul at ed, whereby a l s o drag at . aef f = 0 i s det er 
mined.
The e a r l i e r mentioned va l i di t y of
0.1  2
l i n e a r C ( C ) curves poi nt s t o
D L
k=( l  t / c) a/ 2
CL:
t he c l a s s i c a l induced drag con
cept :

1 2
ACD 
. CL (1 1)
a
From c l a s s i c a l aerodynamics it i s
known t h a t t he parameter k i s de
pendent on t he aspect r a t i o A .
For an e l l i p t i c di s t r i but i on
al ong t he span k is equal t o n .
Hoerner [ l 31 r epor t s f or l i f t i n g
s ur f aces wi t h small aspect r a t i o s
a val ue of k equal t o n / 2 . The
wind t unnel t e s t r e s ul t s , di s 
cussed e a r l i e r , showed t h a t k
should be cor r ect ed f o r t.he main
deck t hi ckness. The fol l owi ng
cor r ect i on was appl i ed:
t . / c 0.75: k = ( l  t / c ) r / 2
Fi g. 5. Induced Drag Coef f i ci ent s t / c 0.75: k = 0.393 ( 12)
Fi g. 5 shows t he t e s t r e s ul t s f or a r ect angul ar main deck (RMD)
wi t h dimensions b = 500 mm, c = 750 mm ( a t B = 0 degr ees) and t =
300 mm. The induced drag concept and t he modified kvalue agr ee
w e l l wi t h t he t e s t r e s u l t s f or t he two t e s t e d wind di r e c t i ons and
var i ed ai r gap val ues. The va l i di t y of k = 0.393 a t t / c > 0.75 could
not be ve r i f i e d, a s no s uf f i c i e nt dat a a r e avai l abl e f or t hose r e
l a t i v e l y t hi ck t ypes of pl at form.
For t he cal cul at i on of t he over t ur ni ng moment, not only t he drag
ar eas of t he var i ous pl at f or m components and t he main deck l i f t
must be cal cul at ed, but a l s o t he var i ous cent r es of e f f or t .
The working l i n e of t h e drag on a s pe c i f i c pl at f or m component i s
determined by t he hei ght of t he mean dynamic pr essur e over t h a t
component. The l i f t induced drag i s added t o t he main deck dr ag.
The working l i n e of t he l i f t i s cal cul at ed from t he welldescribed
flat plate data [14], with a correction for the main deck thickness
as deduced from wind tunnel tests:
*
where X /c denotes the centre of effort of a flat plate.
c P
Analysis of the tests showed that for a platform with a smooth main
deck an aerodynamic torque is present. This torque decreases with
increasing ratio of deck thickness and streamwise platform length,
with increasing airgap between main deck and sea surface and with
increasing deck arrangement. The origin of this torque is believed
to be due to the formation of a separation bubble at the main deck
leading edge. Enlargement of this bubble up to even bursting re
sults in a decreasing torque, increasing lift and a forward shift
of the lift working line. This process il.lustrates the importance
of a properly modelled platform in wind tunnel testing.
4. CORRELATION OF WINDOS WITH EXPERIMENTAL RESULTS
4.1 Introduction
A computer program (WINDOS) has been developed based on the phy
sical model discussed. For the correlation between calculated and
experimental results, three comparisons will be given here which
are thought to be representative for typical WINDOS applications.
The comparisons concern:
 a semisubmersible consisting of a rectangular main deck, four
circular columns and a helicopter deck located at the main deck's ,
leading edge. The experimental data are obtained from the NLR
wind tunnel tests;
 a so called semispar platform, consisting of a circular main
deck and circular columns. The experimental data are obtained
from Willemsen et al. [ 91 ;
 a jackup platform consisting of a triangular main deck, three
square legs and several superstructure components. The experi
mental data are obtained from Norton [l51 .
In the several comparative figures, the calculated results by using
the ABS or DnV method are given too. These methods do not account
for lift effects.
4.2 Semisubmersible with Helicopter Deck
Fig. 6 shows the results for this structure in terms of a drag co
efficient CD, a lift coefficient CL and an overturning moment CO
aOnV, a = 0 efficient CM. Four wind headings
0 WT, a = 0
WT. a = 10
( 8 ) and two platform inclination
WINDOS, a =  0 angles (a) are given. The corre
9 WINDOS; a = 1 0
lation between WINDOS and the
HELIDECK
0
0
30 B
60 9 0
wind tunnel data is both qualita
tively and quantitatively good
for the lift and drag coeffi
cients. The overturning moment
coefficient is somewhat underpre
dicted (a = 0 degrees) or over
predicted (a = 10 degrees, 0 = 0
and 30 degrees) by WINDOS, al
though the trends with the incli
nat.ion and wind angle are well
predicted. The gap effect on the
overturning moment needs probably
t.o be extended in the physical
model of WINDOS.
The greater overturning moment
for the inclined platform at a
Fig. 6. Semisubmersib4e with Helideck
zero degree wind angle is caused by the lift forces on the main
and helicopter decks. Apart from the flow inclination due to the
structure's pitch angle, the main deck induced velocity field acts
as an inclined flow (see Fig. 3) to this helicopter deck. This
deck, modelled as a flat plate in WINDOS, experiences then a sig
nificant lift force, which adds to the overturning moment by the
long lever arm.The DnV prediction for the drag at even keel is too
conservative. This overprediction is less pronounced for the
, overturning moment.
4.3 Semispar Platform
Fig. 7 shows the re
Wind
sults for this case.
'D
WINDOS
WT o
DnV o
C~
WINDOS A
WT A
DnV A
The correlation between
WINDOS and the experi
ments for the drag and
overturning moment co
efficients is good.
This indicates a proper
modelling of interac
tion effects between
circular cylinders in
WINDOS. The resemblance
for the lift coeffi
cients is not satisfac
tory. This is due to
the circular shaped
main deck which is not
Fig. 7. SemiSpar Platform modelled in WINDOS.
The DnV results for this structure are reasonably good, compared
with the previous case. WINDOS results are more close to the expe
rimental values than the DnV results due to a better treatment of
Reynolds number and interaction effects on the circular cylinders.
I
i
,
1
4.4 Jackup Platform 1
5
The drag and overturning moment coefficients are shown in Fig. 8.
I
Lift coefficients are not shown as the experimental arrangement is
judged to be inadequate for a good prediction of the lift forces.
I
f;
The comparison between the WINDOS and experimental results is again
f!
I
reasonably good. The ABS predictions are too conservative, espe 'i
cially for the drag coefficients.
i 5. CONCLUDING REMARKS
Fig. 8. Jackup Platform
* The new developed method
for the computation of
wind loads on offshore
structures is based on
physical principles, expe
rimental data and computer
capabilities.
* The main physical princi
ples used, are based on
classical aerodynamic the
ories on lifting bodies.
* An extensive wind tunnel
test program validated the
basic principles, enabled
the derivation of empiri
cal formulations and pro
vided new data sets.
* The final computer program
WINDOS has been verified
with results of several
wind tunnel tests. A sig
ni fi.cant improvement of
the correlation was found
when compared with the re
sults from classification
society rules.
NOMENCLATURE
A main deck area; component wind area
b cross main deck dimension; wake width
C longitudinal main deck dimension
dw component width
CD
drag coefficient
lift coef fici.ent
lift curve slope
CM
overturning moment coefficient
90
mean airgap between main deck and sea surface
k variable in the induced drag relation
P exponent
main deck thickness
velocity
effective velocity
reference velocity
coordinate system
distance from main deck leading edge to the lift
working line
roughness height
reference height
wind axis pitch angle of main deck
platform induced upflow angle
effective platform inclination angle
wind heading
aspect ratio; A = b 2 / ~
variable in ground effect formula
REFERENCES
[l] American Bureau of Shipping, Rules for Building and Classing
Mobile Offshore Units, 1985.
[2] Det n o r s w ~ u l e s for Classification of Mobile Off
shore Units, 1985.
[ 31 BOONSTRA, H. and LEYNSE, C., "Windtunnel Tests on a Model of
a Semi.submersible Platform and Comparison of the Results with

Full Scale Data", OTC Paper 4285, 1982.
MACHA, J.M. and REID, D.F., "Semisubmersible Wi.nd Loads and
Wind Effects", Transactions SNAME, Vol. 92, 1984.
OORTMERSSEN, G. VAN, VEGT, J.J.W. VAN DER and WALREE, F. VAN,
"Forces on cylinders in oscillatory flow: a comparison of the
results of numerical and physical modelsN, 3rdPRADS Confer
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Arc Noses", Journal of Fluid Mechanics, Vol 60, Part 2, 1973,
pp. 225239.
SCHLICHTING, H., Boundary Layer Theory, MC GrawHill, 7th
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BJERREGAARD, E. T . D. and SORENSEN, E. G., "Wind Overturning
Effects obtained from Wind Tunnel Tests with various Semisub
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WILLEMSEN, E., LEYNSE, C. and GRAAF, G., "Analysis of High
Reynolds Number Wind Tunnel Tests of the SemiSpar", =
Paper No. 4956, 1985.
ABBOTT, J.H. and DOENHOFF, A.E., Theory of Wing Sections,
Dover Publications Inc., New York, 1959.
"Mean Fluid Forces and Moments on Rectangular Prisms", Engi
neerinq Sciences Data Unit, Item Number 80003, Dec. 1979.
TORENBEEK, E., Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design, Delft
University Press, 1986.
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by Mrs. L.A. Hoerner, 1955.
"Fluid Forces and Moments on Flat Plates", Engineerinq
Sciences Data Unit, Item Number 70015, Sept. 1970.
NORTON, D.J., Mobile Offshore Platform Wind Loads; Jackug
Design, Report TEESTR83104501, Oct. 1983.