Voyage optimization for mitigating ship structural failure due to crack propagation
Journal article, 2019

Fatigue damage in ship structures starts to be accumulated from the first day when a ship is launched, while the average
age of current ship fleets in different shipping segments is often older than15 years. After many years of fatigue accumulation,
fatigue cracks are widely existing in today’s ocean-crossing ships. The existence of fatigue cracks brings great challenges
to ship safety, structural maintenance, associated operation cost, and so on. In order to reduce the crack
propagation and enhance a ship’s structural safety during its service period, various methods could be implemented, such
as decreasing cargo loadings, reducing ship speed, or even changing trade regions to be sailed in moderate sea environments.
In this article, the so-called voyage optimization is proposed to plan a ship’s sailing courses with a well-designed
schedule to minimize the fatigue accumulation in ship structures. Two types of optimization algorithms are used for the
voyage planning, namely, the static waypoint/grid–based and dynamic waypoint/grid–based optimization systems. The
capabilities of these two optimization systems are demonstrated by a 2800TEU container vessel, which was also instrumented
with an old style weather routing system. One entire year of full-scale measurement data are available for the
demonstration, and the crack propagation is estimated by a linear fracture mechanics–based spectral method. It is concluded
that the benefits of using the proposed voyage optimization to mitigate the risk associated with a structural crack
failure by more than 50%.

fatigue route planning

voyage optimization

Fatigue crack propagation

ship routing optimization algorithms

ship structures

fatigue failure risk


Helong Wang

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Marine Technology

Wengang Mao

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Marine Technology

Di Zhang

Wuhan University of Technology

Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part O: Journal of Risk and Reliability

1748-006X (ISSN) 1748-0078 (eISSN)

Vol. 233 1 5-17

Driving Forces

Sustainable development

Innovation and entrepreneurship

Areas of Advance



Subject Categories

Applied Mechanics

Reliability and Maintenance

Other Mathematics

Marine Engineering



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Latest update

3/5/2020 1