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Ultimate strength of a box girder simulating the

hull of a ship
Georges Akhras, Stephen Gibson, Stephen Yang, and Richard Morchat

Abstract: An important feature of ship design is the ability to describe the structural behaviour of the hull and to
accurately predict its ultimate strength. Research on the ultimate strength of hulls has been carried out by many
experimental research groups. Recently, the consensus reached is to simulate the behaviour of the hull by loading a
box girder up to its ultimate strength. A box girder was tested at the Royal Military College of Canada. The objective
of this experiment is to study the structural behaviour and compare the experimental results with the predictions of two
computer codes. The construction of the model follows typical hull construction methods. The girder was subjected to
pure bending until failure occurred. Provisions were taken so that collapse would occur due to buckling and not to
plastic failure. Residual stresses and initial geometrical imperfections were measured and considered in the analysis. In
previous publications, details of the design, fabrication, and loading were presented. In this paper, the experimental
results are described and discussed.

Key words: box girder, ships hull, bending, ultimate strength, residual strength, residual stresses, initial imperfections.

Résumé : Un élément important dans la conception de bateaux est l’aptitude à décrire le comportement structural de la
coque et de prédire avec précision sa résistance ultime. Des recherches sur la résistance ultime des coques de bateau
ont été effectuées par de nombreux groupes de recherche. Le consensus atteint récemment est de simuler le
comportement de la coque en chargeant une poutre caisson jusqu’à sa résistance ultime. Une poutre caisson a été testée
au Collège Militaire Royal du Canada. L’objectif de cette expérience est d’étudier le comportement structural et de
comparer les résultats expérimentaux avec les prédictions de deux programmes informatiques. La construction du
modèle est conforme aux méthodes de construction typique d’une coque. La coque a été soumise à une flexion pure
jusqu’à ce que la rupture survienne. Des dispositions ont été prises de sorte que l’effondrement serait dû au flambage
et non à la rupture plastique. Les contraintes résiduelles de même que les imperfections géométriques initiales ont été
mesurées et considérées dans l’analyse. Dans des publications précédantes, les détails de la conception, de la
fabrication et du chargement ont été présentés. Dans cet article, les résultats expérimentaux sont décrits puis discutés.
Mots clés : poutre caisson, coque de bateau, flexion, résistance ultime, résistance résiduelle, contraintes résiduelles,
imperfections initiales.

[Traduit par la Rédaction] Akhras et al. 843

ship. Research on the ultimate strength of hulls has been car-

ried out by many experimental research groups, for example,
An important feature of ship design is the ability to de- Ostapenko (1981), Mansour et al. (1990), and Dow (1990).
scribe the structural behaviour of the hull and to accurately
predict its ultimate strength. The ultimate strength is re- The hull of a ship is regularly subjected to wave loads.
quired to help assess the safety and serviceability of the The hogging phenomenon produces tension in the top deck
and compression in the bottom, whereas the sagging phe-
nomenon will produce the opposite stress distribution
(Fig. 1). The loading patterns resulting from the hogging and
Received August 22, 1997. sagging effects are very complex. To deal with this problem,
Revised manuscript accepted March 9, 1998. Caldwell (1965), Hughes (1983), Rawson and Tupper
(1983), Smith and Dow (1986), and others (D’Arcangelo
G. Akhras. Department of Civil Engineering, Royal Military
College of Canada, Kingston, ON K7K 5L0, Canada. 1969) have proposed several theories for the methods of de-
S. Gibson. Naval Base Design Authority, HM Naval Base sign and analysis. The complex structural behaviour of the
Clyde, Helensburgh, United Kingdom. ship can now be modelled by the finite element method.
S. Yang. Maritime Ship Support, Department of National Even though this numerical method is a very powerful tool
Defence, Ottawa, ON K1A 0K2, Canada. for analysis purposes, it is not yet applicable in a practical
R. Morchat. Dockyard Laboratory Atlantic, DREA, Halifax, way for preliminary design. In particular, preliminary con-
NS B3K 5X5, Canada. ceptual designs usually evolve from previous designs and by
Written discussion of this article is welcomed and will be approximate approaches.
received by the Editor until April 30, 1999 (address inside Recently introduced, one of these approaches assumes
front cover). that the behaviour of the ship is comparable to the behaviour

Can. J. Civ. Eng. 25: 829–843 (1998) © 1998 NRC Canada

830 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 1. Hogging and sagging phenomena.

Analysis of the ultimate strength of a ship’s structure is a

very complex problem (Hughes 1983). For this simulated
hull box girder model test, interframe buckling failure under
a longitudinal bending moment is considered to be the domi-
nant failure mode for a typical longitudinally framed ship.
As the load is steadily increased, buckling of the deck centre
plating between the longitudinal stiffeners will happen first.
As the load is increased further, the central plating will shed
the additional load to the adjacent longitudinal stiffeners
which will buckle in conjunction with the strip of plating to
which they are attached. The buckling of the different strips
of a simple beam, and consequently the longitudinal strength of the plating shifts the loads to the corners of the box which
of the ship is similar to the longitudinal strength of a beam. are usually very stiff in compression. It is assumed that this
To properly reflect this behaviour, the cross section of the process of inelastic instability will happen before the tension
beam should be selected according to the characteristics of side of the box girder reaches a plastic state. Moreover, the
the ship cross section. Judgement based on extensive experi- heavy transverse frames, with cross sections larger than
mentation performed by Ostapenko (1981), Mansour et al. those of the longitudinal stiffeners, are spaced in such a way
(1990), Dow (1990), and others leads to the use of a box that interframe buckling will occur first, rather than the
girder configuration for the cross section. Figure 2 shows a overall buckling of the plating, with the transverse and lon-
simplified cross section of a ship’s hull and the box girder gitudinal stiffeners together.
counterpart. The most rigorous analytical approach to model the
The aim of this project is to determine the ultimate interframe buckling failure under the longitudinal bending
strength of a box girder, which is, as mentioned previously, moment is the three-dimensional (3D), nonlinear, finite ele-
representative of a typical ship structural arrangement. The ment analysis. However, there are two other simpler ap-
purpose is to gain an understanding of the failure mecha- proaches which were introduced by Faulkner (1975) and
nisms and to validate or invalidate the predictions of the the- Dow and Smith (1986). Both approaches suggested division
oretical and numerical computer codes. Another objective is of the ship’s section into structural components, such as
to evaluate the behaviour of the box girder under alternating stiffened panels, bulkheads, and hard corners. Each individ-
sagging and hogging moments by flipping over and retesting ual structural component is analysed to establish its
the distorted structure. This test helps evaluate the strength strain–stress curves. Then, the section is loaded by incre-
of a box girder already distorted by large deformations mental curvatures and the moments induced by each compo-
which is designated here as the residual strength of the dam- nent are calculated and combined. The neutral axis is
aged structure. readjusted for each increment. The ultimate strength will
A box girder was designed, built, and tested in the Struc- then be the maximum bending moment just before the struc-
tural Laboratory of the Civil Engineering Department at the ture collapses. The difference between the two methods is
Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). The construction found in the way they establish the stiffened panel’s
of the model followed typical hull construction methods. strain–stress curves.
The test section of the girder was subjected to pure bending Faulkner (1975) suggested the following formula:
until failure occurred as shown in Fig. 3. The cross sections
of the box girder and its components are shown in Fig. 4. σf 1
[1] = 1 − p(1 − p)λ2 ; 0≤λ≤
Current research favours the testing of box girders having σy p
proportions that reflect those of the ships. Such tests are
taken to failure and considered to indicate the structural be-
haviour of the ship. where σf is the inelastic failure stress; σy is the material yield
The scantlings of the section, which are the dimensions of stress; p is the ratio of the plate stress at the beginning of the
a ship’s girders, plating, and frames, are about half those of inelastic region to the yield stress; and λ is the column slen-
a typical Canadian warship, but the overall cross section was derness for the panel and is defined by
about 1/15 that of a full-size frigate. The model was de- a
signed, as required, to prevent any other mode of failure to [2] λ=
occur before the local buckling of the plating and stiffeners. (πrc ) σy兾E
Residual stresses and initial geometrical imperfections were
measured and considered in the analysis. where a is the length of the stiffener; rc is the radius of gyra-
In this paper, the basic assumptions and analysis, the set- tion of the combined plate and stiffener at failure using the
ting of the tests, and the experimental results are summa- reduced effective plate width; and E is Young’s modulus.
rized, and the comparative results are discussed. The Faulkner (1975) considered that the strength degradation
complete details of the conceptual design, fabrication, and from the initial distortion is not as significant as the residual
loading of the box girder constructed by RMC are presented stress effect on the overall strength. The residual stress ef-
elsewhere (Akhras et al. 1995a, 1995b, 1995c; Shyu et al. fect is represented by a residual stress reduction factor R in
1995, 1996). the effective plate width:

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 831

Fig. 2. Cross-sectional configurations of a ship’s hull (a) and the box girder counterpart (b).

Fig. 3. Box girder layout and loading.

Fig. 4. Cross sections of the test model.

© 1998 NRC Canada

832 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 5. A three-dimensional view of the test model.

 2η   β2   Et  with a λ of 0.48 and a β of 2.01, the ultimate flexural

[3] R = 1 −  
 
 strength was found to be 1250 kN·m. For the computer pro-
 b兾t − 2η   2β − 1   E  gram FABSTRAN, the following parameters were used: a
where b is the stiffener spacing; Et is the tangent modulus of measured compressive residual stress of 150 MPa, a small
the plate material; t is the plate thickness; and η is a factor imperfection of the plate, and a one-thousandth frame space
dependent on the welding type and on the shakedown effects imperfection for the stiffener. The calculated ultimate
which reflect the process of stabilization of the residual strength was 1300 kN·m, and the plastic bending moment
stresses after construction. For most naval ships, η = 3.75 is for the box girder was 1620 kN·m.
appropriate, and

b σy
[4] β = 
t  E
where Et is defined by
The box girder was 10 m long, with a cross section of
Et  362
. β2  960 mm by 720 mm (Figs. 3–5). The thickness of the plating
[5] = ; 0 ≤ β ≤ 19
.兾 p
. + β兾4 
was 4.55 mm in the test section and 9.53 mm in the remain-
E  131 ing part of the box. In order to represent as closely as possi-
ble the Canadian Forces frigate, a ratio of approximately 1:2
[6] =1 ; β > 19
.兾 p is used for the following four parameters: thickness of the
E plating, cross section of the longitudinal stiffener, spacing
An iterative process is required to obtain the failure stress between the longitudinal stiffeners, and spacing between the
of the panel, as the failure stress is dependent on the reduced transverse frames. The details of the cross section for the
effective plate width, and the effective plate width is defined box girder, its longitudinal stiffeners, and the transverse
by the failure stress. frames are shown in Figs. 3 and 4.
Dow and Smith (1986) used a two-dimensional (2D) non-
linear elastoplastic finite element analysis to establish the Materials
strain–stress curves for the stiffened panel. Initial distortions Four different grades of mild steel were used. These are
of the plate and stiffeners and the residual stresses were ac- the types of steel commonly used in warship construction.
counted for in their program FABSTRAN. Table 1 presents the results of standard tensile tests; each av-
erage is based upon the results of three to five samples.
These results show, as expected, that the yield stresses are
up to 40% higher than the nominal value and the modulus of
The formula of Faulkner (1975) and the computer pro- elasticity is approximately 200 GPa. All other details are
gram FABSTRAN were used to calculate the ultimate published elsewhere (Akhras et al. 1995a; Shyu et al. 1995,
strength for the box girder. Using the formula of Faulkner 1996).

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 833

Table 1. Material properties from standard tensile tests.

Nominal yield Average yield Average ultimate Average Young’s modulus

Type of steel and material specifications stress (MPa) stress (MPa) stress (MPa) of elasticity (GPa)
Buffer–outer section plating; CSA G40.1, 250 365 498 204
grade 38WT Cat.5
Longitudinal stiffeners; ASTM A-36 250 318 466 205
Transverse frames; ASTM A-588 Grad B 350 417 531 199
Test section plating; SAE 1010 250 294 404 212

Fig. 6. A panel with the longitudinal stiffeners and the transverse frames.

Fig. 7. Inside view of the box girder during construction.

© 1998 NRC Canada

834 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 8. A global view of the box girder and the loading frames. Fig. 9. Micro-strains (in kN·m) at failure of 14 outside strain
-1119 842 -197 -851




North South
-288 Mid-span of the west segment -555


* 745


1196 1233 1162 1906

to move in the direction of the welding. This sequence is

followed to reduce the thermal differential stress resulting
from the welding. Also, during welding, clamps with
wooden plates were used to minimize the residual stresses.
Ultrasonic and (or) magnetic particles as well as visual in-
spections were used for quality assurance.

Construction of the model

The construction of the model followed closely the weld-
V ing specifications and the fabrication sequence described in
the previous paragraphs. The connections between the longi-
tudinal stiffeners and the transverse frames were provided by
small compensation plates welded to each side of the stiffen-
ers. The webs of the transverse frames were stiffened in or-
der to avoid local distortion.
To initiate the buckling of the top plating in the test sec-
Welding specifications tion before any other type of failure, pure bending had to be
Although a number of standards and codes have been con- produced. To do so, the transfer of the load from the actua-
sulted for welding procedures of the test model, the Depart- tors to the test section has to be as uniform as possible. Con-
ment of National Defence of Canada Welding Specification sequently, a buffer zone of 615 mm and two large outriggers
of HMC Ships (Department of National Defence 1981) and were located directly under the loading beams. Moreover, to
Structural Practices Standard for CF Surface Ships (Depart- guarantee pure bending, a wedge-shaped prism and a roller
ment of National Defence 1993) were followed. With all the were used as supports. A 3D solid computer drawing (Fig. 5)
appropriate details, these documents define the size of was produced to better visualize the box girder and to facili-
welds, joint efficiency, weld bunching and staggering, pre- tate construction of the actual model by avoiding or at least
ferred direction of weld, scallops, butt joints of unequal reducing possible fabrication errors. The photographs in
thickness, compensation plates, welding methods and se- Figs. 6–8 show, respectively, a panel with the longitudinal
quence, surface and edge preparations, strong backs, defects, stiffeners and the transverse frames, an inside view of the
visual inspection, and quality assurance. All appropriate de- box girder during construction, and a global view of the
tails such as weld size and direction and sequence welding loading frames with the box girder.
were defined in a document prepared especially for this pur-
pose by Shyu et al. (1995).

Fabrication sequence Loading

A back-step welding method was used for the test model. The two point loads pattern generated a uniform bending
As a general rule for fabrication and in order to guarantee moment in the central portion of the girder which is the test
proper heat diffusion, the sequence for welding the longitu- section (Fig. 3), and with the use of prisms and rollers as
dinal stiffeners to each panel looked like a spiral trajectory supports, pure bending was guaranteed. Moreover, to trans-
starting in the centre and moving outwards. The welding of fer the load from the actuators to the test section, two large
each member started in the centre of that member and pro- outriggers were located directly under the loading beams
ceeded symmetrically outwards so that the member was free (Fig. 5). This special loading configuration was required be-

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 835

Fig. 10. Locations of the potentiometers on the deck.







cause, after the first failure, the box girder was flipped over Fig. 11. Initial residual stresses for the cross section where
and tested again. The 2220 kN·m bending moment, which is buckling occurs.
the maximum value that could be produced by the two point
loads of 750 kN each, is designed to exceed the theoretical
fully plastic flexural strength of the girder by 37%.

Loading frames
The design of the experimental setup is detailed in Akhras
et al. (1995c). The construction followed very closely the
plan outlined by Akhras et al., and Fig. 8 shows a photo-
graph of the setup with the box girder. The outriggers and
the loading beams were used to ensure that the damaged box
girder was tested using the same loading pattern.

Strain gauges and potentiometers

To complement the 70 strain gauges already installed in-
side the box girder, 42 standard Showa strain gauges and 26
potentiometers were installed outside the box: 14 gauges for
each middle cross section of each segment of the test section
(14 × 3 = 42). The 14 gauges were installed in the middle of Initial residual stresses
each of the 14 panels of the plating defined by the longitudi- The residual stresses are usually caused by rolling and
nal stiffeners and (or) by the borders of the box as shown in cutting and induced by welding and fabrication. Only those
Fig. 9. The locations of the 26 potentiometers were selected set by welding and fabrications are considered here. Some of
to measure as closely as possible the movements of the box the initial residual stresses on the surface of the plating were
girder. Figure 10 shows the location of the potentiometers on measured using an X-ray diffractometer, and strain gages
the deck of the box. were used for the other locations. Due to the size of the
cross section of the longitudinal stiffeners, the heat produced
by welding the web to the plating is intense enough to gen-
erate high residual strains and resultant high residual
stresses. These residual stresses are important and can be
critical to the performance of the box girder. They have to
As stated previously, the residual stresses due to welding be evaluated properly, particularly in the compression zones.
and fabrication, as well as the initial geometric imperfec- Consequently, the effects of heat on the performance of
tions, were measured and used as input data for the com- strain gauges have to be considered. Two types of gauges
puter codes to predict the ultimate strength of the box girder. were used for the project, a standard type and a
To carry out the pretest measurements, three mid-span and heat-resistant type.
six quarter-span cross sections of the three segments of the Thirty strain gauges were installed centrally, on one side
test section were selected. Extensive pretest readings were of the stiffener webs prior to welding. Because the welding
taken of the initial geometric imperfections (256 different creates temperatures of approximately 180°C at the strain
locations) and the residual weld stresses in the longitudinal gauge locations, high-temperature-resistant strain gauges,
stiffeners and in the panels (150 locations). WK-06-250BG-350 of Micro-Measurement Division Mea-

© 1998 NRC Canada

836 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 12. Locations of initial geometric imperfection measurements.

20 48 76
11 13 27 39 41 55 67 69 83
91 32 60 88
3 10 14 26 29 38 42 54 57 66 70 82 85

9 15 25 37 43 53 65 71 81

W 2 8 16 24 30 36 44 52 58 64 72 80 86 E
7 17 23 35 45 51 63 73 79
4 90 89
1 6 18 22 31 34 46 50 59 62 74 78 87
40 68
12 28 56 84
5 19 21 33 47 49 61 75 77

Top & Bottom Panels

9 21 30 42 51 63
4 14 16 25 35 37 46 56 58
69 68 67
2 5 13 17 23 26 34 38 44 47 55 59 65

W 6 12 18 27 33 39 48 54 60 E
3 24 45 66
1 7 11 19 22 28 32 40 43 49 53 61 64
15 36 57
8 10 20 29 31 41 50 52 62

North & South Panels

Fig. 13. Initial geometric imperfections for the cross section To calculate the residual stresses, the strain measurements
where buckling occurs. were multiplied by Young’s modulus of the longitudinal
-0.5 -0.2 1.1 0 1.8 1.8 4.0 stiffeners, which has an average value of 206 GPa (Rawson
and Tupper 1983; Shyu et al. 1996). The maximum calcu-
lated surface residual stress due to fabrication is a compres-
Top sion of 21 MPa. As an example, Fig. 11 shows the residual
-1.2 -1.6 weld stresses for the middle cross section of the west seg-
ment where buckling occurs.
-1.9 VNW2 VSW1 -1.5
North South
0 Note: All positive values indicate elevations 0
toward the inside of the box girder Initial geometric imperfections
-0.3 VNW1
Values are in mm VSW2 -0.4 Initial geometric imperfections are induced by welding
and fabrication. The magnitude and direction of the initial
-0.7 0.5
HBW1 HBW2 HBW3 geometric imperfections of the box girder can significantly
Bottom affect the theoretical analysis and computer solution. In fact,
they can explain the difference between one type of failure
0.47 0.6 1.5 0 -0.6 -2.5 - 0.7
and another in numerical modelling. Consequently, the box
girder was constructed with considerable attention. Initial
geometric imperfections were measured using an automatic
surements Group Vishay, were used to resist this heat and level with a parallel-plate micrometer to enhance the reading
special installation procedures were needed. After welding precision. The locations of the measurements are numbered
the longitudinals, a second set of 40 standard Showa strain as in Fig. 12 and were taken for the four sides of the model.
gauges were installed, 30 in the middle of the reverse side of A total of 256 locations were measured (53 on each side
the webs of the stiffeners, and 10 on the flanges in the mid- panel and 75 in the top and bottom panels). The largest ver-
dle of the test section. tical imperfection in a cross section was 4.7 mm of node 84
Readings were taken at three phases of the box fabrica- in the bottom panel which is within the limits permitted in
tion: when the longitudinal stiffeners were cut with no weld- the specifications. As an example, Fig. 13 shows the varia-
ing, when the stiffeners were welded to the plating, and tions of the initial imperfections for the middle cross section
upon completion of box fabrication. of the west segment where buckling occurs.

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 837

Fig. 14. Time–displacement curves for three potentiometers located on the failed cross section.

Fig. 15. Time–displacement curves for the middle top potentiometers.

Fig. 16. Moment–displacement curves for potentiometers on the top of the box girder.

© 1998 NRC Canada

838 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 17. Moment–strain curves for a strain gauge on the top of the box girder.

Fig. 18. Moment–strain curves for a strain gauge on the bottom of the box girder.

Ultimate strength
The purposes of preliminary tests are to check the global Because all the preliminary tests were successful and the
performance of the complete experimental setup (actuators, behaviour of the box at the beginning of the loading process
supports, loading and distribution beams, loading frames, was linear, a loading rate of 31 kN/min was chosen for the
etc.), test the data-acquisition systems recording the reading beginning of the loading process and a much slower rate of
of the gauges, and verify the linear behaviour of the box 6 kN/min for the remainder of the experiment.
girder before loading it to failure. Three preliminary tests To provide more readings of the data collection systems,
were performed. In the first, the loads in the actuators were three pauses of 2 min each were allowed when the loading
increased until the bending moment reached 310 kN·m reached a bending moment of 931 kN·m for stage one, 1066
(which corresponds to a total load of 210 kN); the bending kN·m for stage two, and 1199 kN·m for stage three. Thereaf-
moment reached 621 kN·m (420 kN) for the second test and ter, the loading continued until failure occurred when the
932 kN·m (630 kN) for the third test. The results of the three cross section of the west segment of the test section buckled
preliminary tests were very satisfactory. They showed that and the loading reached a value of 836 kN for a bending
linear load–displacement and stress–strain behaviours were moment of 1238 kN·m. The central plating defined by the
in accordance with engineering calculations. longitudinal stiffeners and (or) by the borders of the box

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 839

Fig. 19. Moment–strain curves for three gauges on the side of the box girder.

Fig. 20. Photographs of the box girder after failure.

buckled first. The loads released from the buckling of the girder. Figure 14 shows the time–displacement curves of the
plating were redirected to the longitudinal stiffeners, which three potentiometers PW1, PW2, and PW3. As shown in
finally buckled laterally, leading to the bending of the box Fig. 10, these potentiometers were located on the deck of the

© 1998 NRC Canada

840 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

Fig. 21. Photographs of the flipped box girder after failure.

western part of the box girder where failure was first ob- the potentiometers. As in Fig. 14, the same remarks hold for
served. The three curves in Fig. 14, which are almost super- the time–displacement curves of the seven potentiometers in
imposed, are divided into three segments. The slope of the Fig. 15. These potentiometers were located on the middle
first segment represents the loading rate of 31 kN/min used part of the deck (PM1–PM7 in Fig. 10).
in the beginning of the loading process, and the steeper Figure 16 gives the moment–displacement curves for five
slope of the second segment the loading rate of 6 kN/min potentiometers located on the deck of the box girder: the lo-
used in the last part of the experiment. The superimposed cations of PW1, PW2, and PW3 are as described earlier;
segments of the curves indicate that the displacements of the PM4 is located in the centre of the middle part of the deck;
three potentiometers were practically the same and thus no and PE2 is located in the centre of the east part of the deck
twisting, distortion, warping, or local buckling had devel- (Fig. 10). Figure 17 presents the moment–strain curves for a
oped during the loading process until buckling occurred. strain gauge installed on the top of the box girder in the
This observation corroborates the assumption that a plane compression zone, and Fig. 18 presents the results from a
cross section of the box girder stayed plane during loading strain gauge in the tension zone. Finally, Fig. 19 displays the
until failure. The third segment is flat and indicates failure: moment–strain curves for three gauges installed on the side
the three final readings represent the final displacements of of the box, one in the middle of the box at the neutral axis

© 1998 NRC Canada

Akhras et al. 841

Fig. 22. Half-waves of the south vertical side of the box.

Fig. 23. Inside buckling areas viewed from different angles.

© 1998 NRC Canada

842 Can. J. Civ. Eng. Vol. 25, 1998

location (OSW2), one at mid-distance of the upper part of (1) The ratio of the ultimate moment predicted by the
the box (OSW1), and one at mid-distance of the bottom part computer code FABSTRAN to the experimental moment
of the box (OSW3). Until the buckling load had been was 1.05, which suggests that, in general, overestimation of
reached, OSW2 registered no strain, for all intents and pur- the hull’s strength will result if this computer code is used. If
poses, as expected for a neutral axis, whereas OSW3 and the second computer code, which does not take in account
OSW1 behaved linearly in tension and compression, the initial imperfections and residual stresses, is used, then
respectively. These results clearly show that the box girder the ratio is only 1.01.
behaved similarly to a beam and collapsed due to pure bend- (2) The experimental residual strength of the damaged
ing which generated, in the compression zone, the buckling box girder in the reversed flexure direction was also deter-
stress required to fail the plating and the longitudinal stiffen- mined and was found to be 73% of the experimental ulti-
ers. The photographs in Fig. 20 show the buckling areas mate moment.
viewed from various angles and, as expected, several un- (3) In the first test, practically no twisting, distortion,
symmetrical semi-half-waves. warping, or local buckling had developed in any cross sec-
Again, buckling occurred as anticipated and the results are tion of the box girder during the loading process until buck-
very close to those generated by the computer models. The ling occurred. This corroborates the assumption used in the
theoretical ultimate moment Mu, without taking into account analysis of a box girder subjected to pure bending and stat-
the effects of the initial residual stresses and imperfections, ing that a plane cross section will stay plane during loading
was 1250 kN·m; FABSTRAN, the computer code which until failure (Fig. 19).
takes into account the initial residual stresses and geometric (4) The buckling mode of the plating panels had, as ex-
imperfections, predicted an Mu of 1300 kN·m, and the exper- pected, the shape of unsymmetrical waves delimited by the
imental result was 1238 kN·m. longitudinal stiffeners (Fig. 22).
(5) The concept of residual strength should be investi-
Residual strength gated further to improve the knowledge of damage assess-
Another objective of the project was to evaluate the resid- ment and the general behaviour of the structure.
ual strength of the damaged box girder. After failure, the
box was flipped over and tested again. As stated previously,
the outriggers and loading beams were designed and used so
that the damaged box girder could be tested using the same Financial assistance was kindly provided by the Depart-
loading pattern. ment of National Defence of Canada. The authors would
The loading and data-acquisition methods were the same like to acknowledge and thank the RMC Structural Labora-
as those used in the first test. Again, to guarantee more read- tory staff, the RMC Machine Shop staff, and CFB Kingston
ings of the data-collection systems, three pauses of 2 min Base Maintenance staff for their excellent work on the pro-
each were allowed when loading reached a bending moment ject.
of 228 kN·m for stage one, 452 kN·m for stage two, 674
kN·m for stage three, and 896 kN·m for stage four. As the
load was steadily increased, the buckled plating and longitu-
dinal stiffeners, which were now in the tension zone, Akhras, G., Shyu, C.T., and Ellis, J.S. 1995a. A box girder to
straightened up slowly before the compression zone failed in evaluate the ultimate strength of a ship’s hull. Proceedings, An-
buckling. The experimental maximum moment Mu reached nual Technical Session, Structural Stability Research Council,
was 913 kN·m, which is 74% of the experimental ultimate Kansas City, Mo., pp. 137–146.
moment of the structure. Photographs of the flipped box are Akhras, G., Shyu, C.T., and Ellis, J.S. 1995b. Ultimate strength test
shown in Figs. 21–23. model of a ship’s hull. Proceedings, Annual Conference, Cana-
dian Society for Civil Engineering, Vol. IV, Ottawa, Ont.,
pp. 403–410.
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A box girder, which simulates the behaviour of a ship’s Kingston, Ont., Civil Engineering Report CE95-2.
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results with the solutions of two computer codes. The test Department of National Defence. 1981. Welding specification for
section of the girder was subjected to pure bending until HMC ships, D-49-003-003/SF-001. Department of National De-
failure occurred. The scantlings of the section were about fence, Ottawa, Ont.
half those of a typical Canadian warship, but the overall Department of National Defence. 1993. Structural practices stan-
cross section was about 1/15 that of a full-size frigate. The dard for CF surface ships, D-03-002-008/SG-003. Department
model was designed, as required, to prevent any other mode of National Defence, Ottawa, Ont.
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fections were measured and considered in the analysis. The Ministry of Defence, Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland.
results clearly indicate that the test was a success and its ob- Dow, R.S., and Smith, C.S. 1986. FABSTRAN: a computer pro-
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© 1998 NRC Canada

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Military College of Canada, Kingston, Ont., Civil Engineering 3.75 for most naval ships)
Report CE96-1.

© 1998 NRC Canada