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Extra First Class COC Courses (Part ‘B’)


At any given location, the sea elevation changes randomly with time. It is represented by
statistically using energy spectra. One of the most powerful means of representing an
irregular sea and, incidentally, a ship’s responses, is the concept of an energy spectrum.

How is an energy spectrum used to represent the sea? Explain in detail. How are various
parameters like significant wave height, average wave height, frequency, etc are derived
from the spectrum? Explain Response Amplitude Operator.

Student Name and Number: Samson Roy Chellappan and TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Course name: Naval Architecture (B3)

ASSESSOR: Mr. Bhaskar Walimbe

Date of Submission: Not later than 15 October 2016

Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05


One way we can define the sea in simple terms, its total energy must necessarily be
made up of the sum of the energies of all the small, regular waves that make up the sea –
no more and no less.

The intensity of the sea is characterized by its total energy; and, what is most important,
we can show the individual contribution made by each of its component waves. With
each component wave of different length or period (or, more conveniently, of different
frequency), we can show how the total energy of the sea is distributed according to the
frequencies of the various wave components. This distribution is what we call the
“ENERGY SPECTRUM” of the sea or more simply the “WAVE SPECTRUM”.

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05
Main body:

The deep-water characteristics of regular waves are as follows:

Wave period, sec = T

Wave length, L, ft = gT2/2Π
Wave speed, C fps = L/T = gT/2Π
Cyclic frequency, f, cps = 1/T
Circular frequency, w rad/sec = 2Π/T

The ordinate of the curve is expressed as energy seconds and may be regarded as an
abstract term conventionally selected so that the area under the spectrum curve
represents the entire energy of the system when plotted on a frequency base that has the
dimension of 1/seconds. While we have centered the energy of each component wave at
its designated frequency, we have given it a small “bandwidth,” so that the energy
seconds ordinates have finite values and so that the curve has a semblance of continuity
over a wide range of frequency.

Let us consider a small number of regular waves of different lengths and heights as
shown in figure 3.1.

Fig 3.1. Wave pattern combining four regular waves.

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Figure 3.2. shows a crude spectrum made up of the same waves used in fig 3.1.

Fig 3.2. Spectrum of four waves.

According to observed behavior of the actual sea, we must consider that the sea contains
a great number of waves varying slightly in frequency, one from the next. Otherwise, if
we only had four different waves, as per this elemental example, or even ten or twenty,
sooner or later we would see the wave pattern of the sea repeating itself exactly.
Furthermore, as the sea proceeded into new areas, it would separate into groups of
regular waves. So consider that a sea is composed of a very great number of different
frequency waves; and, for a given amount of total energy of the sea, we can see that the
greater the number of waves considered, the less energy (or height) each of these
component waves possesses. Ultimately the most factual energy spectrum of the sea is a
smooth, continuous curve made up of the contribution of an infinite number of regular
waves, all of different period and exceeding small height, as shown in figure 3.3.

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Fig 3.3. Final spectrum

We can never tell just when several waves will group together to form a high sea wave,
or when they will tend to cancel out, or whatever, in any systematic sequence. Instead of
using energy-seconds as the ordinate of the curve, resulting in energy as the area, we
may conventionally substitute square feet-seconds for the ordinate and square feet for
the area as a direct indication of component wave height variations since energy and
height2 are directly proportional.

The spectrum builds from the high frequency end. For a given wind speed, the first
waves generated are those that are of short length; and then, as the wind continues to
blow, longer and longer waves are generated until finally the condition is known as “ the
fully developed sea” is reached, where the system is stable and no further effect is
produced, regardless of how much longer the wind blows and over how much more area
is shown in figure 3.4.
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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Fig 3.4. Growth of spectrum.

We cannot predict the actual pattern of the sea surface in so far as which wave follows
which. However, we can predict by statistical methods how often waves of various
heights will occur over any given period of time for a sea of a given amount of energy.
The height of all the given waves in a record are measured and the percentage of
occurrence calculated, i.e., the number of waves under two feet high, from two to four
feet high, four to six, and so forth, are each divided by the total number of waves in the
record. These percentages are then plotted against the wave heights themselves, resulting
as shown in figure 3.5.

Fig 3.5. Histogram of wave height measurements.

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

It was found that one single form of curve fits most sea-wave histogram records very
closely. This is known as the Rayleigh distribution and it is written as

2Hi 2
p(Hi) = 𝑒𝐻−𝐻𝑖

This may be expressed as “the percentage of times that a wave of height, Hi feet, will
occur in all the waves of that series.
This is the average of all the squared values of the wave heights in the record, or
expressed mathematically as,
Where N is the total number of waves in the record.
H2 = N ∑𝑖=𝑁
𝑖=1 Hi

To devise the spectrum for the particular motion or force on the body we need,
 The height characteristics of the component waves of different frequencies that
occur in the sea. These are, of course, given by the sea spectrum in terms of
square feet-seconds.
 The unit response of the vessel for each of the component waves of different

ISSC Spectrum: The International Ship Structures Congress gives the formula as

2h2(w) = 2760 Hs2 / Ts4w5e-690/Ts4w4

Hs = significant wave height (average of the one-third highest waves).
Ts = “significant period,” actually the average period of the significant waves.
2h2(w) = ordinate of spectral density.
Hs2 = Area under the curve.

The best philosophy to adopt at this time is the one expressed by the International Ship
structures Committee, which presented its formula in association with an assembly of
data on wave heights and periods representative of ocean areas all over the world.

(Dissertation by Walter H. Michel – Sea Spectra Simplified, Page no 17-20, 24)

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Response Amplitude Operator:

In the field of ship design and design of other floating structures, a response amplitude
operator (RAO) is an engineering statistic, or set of such statistics, that are used to
determine the likely behavior of a ship when operating at sea. RAOs are usually
calculated for all ship motions and for all wave headings.

For regular waves, RAO is the ratio of a vessels motion to the wave amplitude causing
that motion and presented over a range of wave periods.

Displacement RAOs:
Vessel motions in waves can be defined by displacement RAOs (Response Amplitude
Operators) that are specified on the Displacements RAOs page of the vessel type data
form. Each displacement RAO consists of a pair of numbers that define the vessel
response, for one particular degree of freedom, to one particular wave direction and
period. The two numbers are amplitude, which relates the amplitude of the vessel motion
to the amplitude of the wave, and a phase, which defines the timing of the vessel motion
relative to the wave.

Example: A surge RAO of 0.5 in a wave of height 4m (and hence wave amplitude 2m)
means that the vessel surges to and fro -1m to +1m from its static position; a pitch RAO
of 0.5° per meter in the same wave means that the vessel pitches from -1° to + 1°.

The vessel has 6 degrees of freedom: 3 translations (surge, sway, heave) and 3 rotations
(roll, pitch, yaw), so the RAO data consists of 6 amplitude and phase pairs for each wave
period and direction. The RAO amplitude and phase vary for different types of vessel,
and for a given vessel type they vary with draught, wave direction, forward speed and
wave period (or frequency). It is important to obtain accurate values for the RAO
amplitude and phase if the dynamics of the system are to be correctly modeled.
RAOs can be obtained either from model tests or from specialist computer programs.

There are many different conventions for defining RAOs. There have been attempts at
standardization but these have not been successful so there remain differences between
the main computer programs and model basins: some establishments even use different
conventions for reporting model and computed data. The only safe course is to obtain a
complete description of the system used for the data in each case.

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

The Orcina convention is to use the amplitude of response (in length units for surge,
sway, heave, in degrees for roll, pitch, yaw) per unit wave amplitude, and to use the
phase lag from the time the wave crest passes the RAO origin until the maximum
positive excursion is reached (in other words, the phase origin being at the RAO origin).
Mathematically, this is given by:

x = R.a.cos (ωt - φ)
x is the vessel displacement (in length units for surge, sway, heave, in degrees for roll,
pitch, yaw)
a, ω are wave amplitude (in length units) and frequency (in radians/second)
t is time (in seconds)
R, φ are the RAO amplitude and phase.

However, OrcaFlex can accept RAO data using a wide range of different conventions so
you can input your RAO data in its original form and simply tell OrcaFlex what
conventions apply to those data.

In addition to the actual RAO data you therefore also need to know:
 The coordinates of the RAO origin and of the phase origin .
 The system used to define wave direction. In OrcaFlex 0° means waves
approaching the vessel from astern and 90° means waves coming from the
starboard side, but if a different convention applies to your data then you must
allow for this when entering the data.
 The coordinate system used to define vessel motions and, in particular, which
direction is positive. That is whether surge is positive forward or aft, whether
heave is positive up or down and whether pitch is positive bow up or bow down.
 Whether the rotational RAO data are in degrees (or radians) of rotation per meter
(or foot) of wave amplitude, or in degrees (radians) per degree (radian) of wave
slope or wave steepness.
 The reference time for phase angles, and the reporting convention used (e.g.
whether phases are reported as lags or leads). Again, OrcaFlex allows a range of

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Student ID number: TMI/EFCE/2016/05

Although OrcaFlex allows the RAO input data to use a wide range of systems, all
OrcaFlex results use a right-handed system in which the positive movements are as

Surge - Positive Forward

Sway - Positive to Port
Heave - Positive Up
Roll - Positive Starboard Down
Pitch - Positive Bow Down
Yaw - Positive Bow to Port

Wave Load RAOs:

RAOs, as described above, can also be used to represent the load (force and moment) on
a vessel due to waves, rather than to directly specify its motion. In this case, the
amplitude represents the magnitude of the force (in the surge, sway or heave direction)
or moment (in the roll, pitch or yaw direction); the meaning of the phase remains
Example: A surge force RAO of 300 kN/m in a wave of height 6m (and hence wave
amplitude 3m) means that a vessel experiences a surge force varying harmonically
between -900kN and +900kN over each wave cycle; a pitch moment RAO of 1E6
kN.m/m in the same wave means that the vessel experiences a moment about the y axis
varying from -3E6 kN.m to +3E6 kN.m.

Wave load RAOs do not completely define the vessel motion as do displacement RAOs:
they merely define the force and moment which a wave exerts on the vessel. OrcaFlex
uses these forces and moments, together with any other loads on the vessel and data on
the vessel's mass and inertia, to determine the vessel motion from its equation of motion.

The description of RAO conventions above, for displacement RAOs, carries over to
wave load RAOs with just one minor difference: rotational wave load RAOs must be
expressed per unit of wave amplitude, and they will have dimensions of moment per unit


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The point of examining the wave spectrum and its effects on motions and forces to see
what may result from a shift in significant wave period. The wave heights are fairly
consistently measured and accountable, it behooves any conscientious investigator to
search all likely spectrum shapes for the maximum effects on the vessel with which we
are concerned.

List of references:

 Sea Spectra Simplified – Dissertation By Walter H. Michel – Page no 17-20, 24.

 www.orcina.com/SoftwareProducts/Orcaflex/Documentation/Help/Content/html/
Vessel theory,RAOandPhases.htm

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