The wind load effects on tension leg platforms have been recognized to be a significant environmental loading. An accurate assessment of the aerodynamic loads is, therefore, a prerequisite for the design of an economic and a reliable structure. The design codes and specifications recommend the use of a projected area approach that is thought to be conservative. The code recommendations fail to quantify aerodynamically induced forces in directions different to the mean wind flow. The interference and shielding effects suggested in some specifications provide only a simplistic view. Physical modeling as reported in this paper, therefore, continues to serve as the most accurate and practical means of predicting aerodynamic loads.
The mean aerodynamic force and moment coefficients of a typical tension leg platform for various approach wind directions were measured on a scale model exposed to simulated flow conditions in a boundary layer wind tunnel. Major components on the upper deck of the model were designed for easy removal so that measurements could be obtained for different platform configurations. A parametric study was conducted to determine shielding and interference effects, i.e. the manner in which aerodynamic coefficients are influenced by the location and orientation of the ancillary structures on the platform, e.g. living quarters, flare boom, derricks, etc. The present paper addresses the wind tunnel modeling procedures and automated data acquisition and reduction methods. The aerodynamic force and moment coefficients with respect to the body and flow axes were reduced from the experimental measurements for azimuth angles of 0 to 360 degrees at 15-degree intervals. A total of eight configurations were monitored ranging from a platform configuration that included all the ancillary structures to the case where every deck component was removed. The aerodynamic coefficients obtained from the classification society recommended procedures provided conservative estimates in comparison with the measured values for all configurations. The results also illustrate that the interference effects among various ancillary structures on the platform are significant.