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Modelling of Viscoelastic Dynamic

Bending Stiffness for VIV Analysis

of Submarine Cables


Johan Hedlund, ( ABB HVC Karlskrona Sweden*)

Abstract: be a pockmark, boulder, anchor scar, cliff, scour, and

etcetera. The normal approach to avoid free spans is to
During cable installation, free spans can occur in areas change the route to circumvent the location with too
with uneven seabed. In combination with current and uneven seabed, but sometimes that is not possible or
waves there is a risk that Vortex Induced Vibrations the free span may occur after the cable has been laid
(VIV) are introduced in the cable span. VIV can cause and even trenched.
wear and fatigue on the cables weak components such
as the lead sheath. This paper proposes a method to The hazards that comes with a cable free span is mainly
assess VIV that utilises the cables hysteretic behaviour impact with fishing equipment or vibrations that
with high damping. A numerical model for calculation occur due to the flowing fluid around the cable which
of the dynamic bending stiffness of a submarine cable creates vortices which in turn can induce vibrations.
with bitumen coated armour wires is also presented. The vibrations may lead to fatigue and wear on cable
components. The flowing fluid around the cable can
Nomenclature: be induced by both ocean current and waves, this
phenomena is called Vortex Induced Vibrations, VIV.

1.1. Predicting VIV

There is no standard or recommendation for predicting

VIV in power cables. There are industry accepted
standards to assess VIV in pipelines such as DNV RP
F105 [1]. Methodologies to assess the resulting fatigue
damage in umbilicals and flexible pipes have been
described in [2] and [3] with the verifying testing
described in [4]. There is also a range of purpose built
software for VIV assessment which reduce the level of
conservatism such as, VIVANA, Shear7 and OrcaFlex
VIV: Vortex Induced Vibrations for example. These software can account for the stick-
DNV: Det Norske Veritas slip behaviour of the helical layers of armour wires.
RP: Recommended Practice
Critical parameters to evaluate the risk for onset of VIV
1. Introduction are the bending stiffness and the structural damping
of the object. The Eigen frequency is proportional to
Free spans is a phenomena that can occur for power the square root of the bending stiffness and a higher
cables, umbilicals and pipelines. It can happen along Eigen frequency results in longer allowed free spans
the cable route if the seabed is so uneven that the cable and higher water velocities. These parameters are easily
cannot adapt to it, as shown in Pic. 1. Free spans can determined for a steel pipe with a linear bend stiffness.
also occur if the cable exits a J-tube bell mouth above For a power cable this becomes even more complex
the seafloor. The reason for the uneven seabed can due to the bitumen covering the helically laid armour


Bending Stiffness, Free span, Structural damping, Vortex Induced Vibrations

Cigre Science & Engineering N3 October 2015

Pic. 1: Model over free span due to cliff.

wires. The bitumen layer will have a large impact on the numerical model is developed to calculate the build-up
bending stiffness, the Eigen frequency and the allowed of stress in the armour wires resulting from the shear
free span length of a submarine cables. deformation in the bitumen layer during cable bending.
The resulting stress distribution is used to calculate the
A typical three core double armoured cable with copper bending moment required to bend the cable.
conductor, XLPE insulation, lead sheath, filler profiles
and two steel wire armour layers with bedding is shown The temperature varying viscoelastic parameters of
in the picture below: bitumen have been determined from small scale testing,
in reference [5].

The calculated relationship between bend moment

and curvature is used to investigate the dynamic cable
bending stiffness during conditions representative for
VIV on how this affects the risk for onset of VIV. The
established bend moment curvature relationships are
also used to determine the viscoelastic damping of the
cables armour layer which is the major contribution to
the total structural damping.

2. Methodology
A power cable usually consists of 1 or 2 layers of helically
wound armour wires. For umbilicals and flexible pipes
without bitumen covered armour the methodology,
described in [3], is well established for determining the
stresses and strains in the armour wires when subjected
to tension and bending. That model uses coulomb
Pic. 2: Typical cross-section for double armoured submarine cable. friction along with the contact pressure between the
wire and surrounding materials and this results in
Bitumen, which is used as part of the corrosion that the wire either is stuck or slides, this is called
protection system of the armour wires, is a viscoelastic stick-slip. The helical geometry is the same for cables
material where the mechanical properties vary with as for umbilicals and flexible pipes and is very well
temperature and strain velocity. The bending stiffness described in [6]. The same methodology is applicable
and structural damping of a submarine cable with for submarine cables with some modifications and will
bitumen covered armour wires will therefore depend be used to calculate the dynamic bending moment.
on temperature, bending amplitude and bending speed.
2.1. Helical Geometry
This paper studies the effects of bitumen on the
bending stiffness of submarine cables and how the The helical geometry used to calculate the wire
stiffness varies with bending speed and temperature. A displacement is mathematically described in reference

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Fig. 1: Helical geometry.

[6], below a simplification of the wire displacement in How the wire displacement is affected by bending if the
a Cartesian coordinate system along with explanatory wire sticks to the toroid can be simplified by introducing
Figure 1: the following expressions and replacing c with s, which
is the distance along the wire path:
(1) (5)

The relationship between the cables radius, pitch angle

When the cable is bent the helix around a cylinder is and lay length is described by the following triangular
transformed into a helix around a toroid and an under relationship described in Rn and gives
length of wire is created on the outside of the bend and
an over length created on the inside of the bend this is
explained by the relationships below: (6)


Which results in that the wire displacement, up, can

be simplified to just depend on the radius, pitch angle,
From (2) the length of the deformed helix is achieved by cable curvature and the distance along the deformed
some manipulation where the ratio R/ << 1 is assumed: helix:

(3) (7)

Where: (8)


Fig. 2: Relationship between radius, pitch angle and lay length.

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The result is an expression for wire displacement as a The model proposed in [6] defines the wire tension, Tw
function of the armour design and curvature is obtained as below:
when the wire sticks to the toroid underneath it. The
corresponding strain is found as the derivative of (8)
which can be used to calculate the stick strain and the (12)
bending moment during the stick phase.

2.2. Viscoelastic Model With the expression from [5] replacing the elastic
model described in (9), in order to adapt the model for
Reference [5] investigated the bitumen shear mechanics submarine cables with bitumen coated armour wires,
in a dynamic subsea power cable by performing pull the wire tension, can be expressed as:
out tests from a cable sample at various temperatures
and speed in order to characterize the shear force that
is generated by the bitumen layer when the armour wire (13)
slides in relation to its neighbouring layers. The work
comprising 29 different pull out tests and 3 cyclic pull
out tests resulted in an expression for the shear force,
in bitumen as a function of velocity and temperature,
the result is described by (9). The total expression results in:



This is a differential equation with a diffusion term,

a transient term with an exponent and a source term
This gives a viscous force equilibrium that differs which can be solved numerically for us. A numerical
compared to the force equilibrium described in reference solver based on [7] was used. With the solution for us
[6] that assumes an elastic relationship between shear the strain reduction in the wire along the arc due to
force and wire displacement. The force equilibrium is axial sliding can be established. By adding the constant
used to calculate the total wire displacement u that is bending component and the component from the
a function of how the cable moves around the toroid axial sliding the strain, , from bending motions is
when being bent. The total displacement consists of established.
two components, curvature, uk and sliding, us:

When the relationship between tensile stress in the

The tension in the wire is proportional to the strain in armour wire as a function of time dependent curvature
the wire: and temperature for a specific cross-section has been
established, all parameters required to calculate the
(11) dynamic bending moment are known.

The distance from the centre of the cable to the armour

wire, in the plane the cable is bent with the stress in

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Fig. 3: Bending moment hysteresis loop.

the wire along the arc, creates a bending moment. By Figure 3 displays a clear hysteretic behaviour which is the
integrating that bending moment along the wire for result from the armour wires sliding in the viscoelastic
all wires in all armour layers and adding the bending bitumen but also an elastic component which comes
moment, EImin, from the other cable components, such from the strain in the armour wire and the elastic
as conductor, the total bending moment, the cable stiffness of the other cable components. The dynamic
experiences can be expressed as: bending stiffness can be expressed as a simplified linear
stiffness by performing a linear estimation between the
(17) maximum and minimum response which is the green
line in figure 3. For the cable used in this example the
dynamic bending stiffness, is EIDynamic is 2580 kNm2 which
ca be compared to the static bending stiffness, EIStatic that
3. Results is 10 kNm2. Bitumen will thus have a significant effect on
the dynamic bending stiffness of the cable and it differs
The dynamic bending moment is a function of how a factor of 258 between static and dynamic bending
curvature varies with time. For VIV the curvature stiffness for this case.
along the arc is a function of the dynamic mode shape
displacement that is expressed by: 3.2. Structural Damping

When a linear dynamic bending stiffness is used a

(18) damping coefficient is needed in order to take the
energy loss in each cycle into account in [1]. That can
be achieved by studying the hysteresis loop.

For a purely elastic material; stress and strain are always

in phase, where the stress is a linear function of strain.
In a viscoelastic material the stress is also a function of
the strain change rate resulting in that stress and strain
The curvature can be approximated as equal to the are not in phase. For example, there can still be stress
second derivative of the displacement: in a viscoelastic material when the strain is zero and
vice versa; the stress can be zero even though there is a
strain in the material.
A viscoelastic material deviates from perfect elasticity
because a component of stress lags strain. The difference
3.1. Dynamic Bending Stiffness is called phase angle. The relationship between the
difference in phase angle between curvature and
By using (19) as input for the curvature in (17) the moment is the measure for damping in a viscoelastic
bending moment response as displayed in the figure material. In this case the cable is treated like a Maxwell
below is achieved for a typical amplitude response with material where curvature corresponds to strain and
a curvature of 0.001 and a typical double armoured bending moment is proportional to the stress.
cable in 7 degrees water:

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Fig. 4: Bending moment hysteresis loop..

In the graph below the bending moment and curvature materials and the more complex behaviour with helical
are plotted as a function of time. The lag between moment wires coated in bitumen. With the expression in (17) a
and curvature is used to predict the viscoelastic damping, linear bending stiffness is calculated for a given mode
the phase angle has also been shown in the figure: shape and by determining the phase difference between
curvature and moment the critical damping ratio is
Figure 4 clearly shows that the proposed model predicts determined. Both parameters are required to determine
a viscoelastic behaviour of the cable since there is the amplitude response for a steel pipeline and the main
a phase lag between curvature and moment. In the differences between cables and pipes.
case of a cable; strain corresponds to cable curvature
and stress corresponds to cable bending moment. The The amplitude response in [1] depends on various
relationship between viscoelastic damping and other environmental parameters and a couple of parameters
forms of damping is described below according to [8]: from the cable. Two of the cable parameters are the Eigen
frequency and the damping ratio. The Eigen frequency,
n is proportional to the square root of the dynamic
(20) bending stiffness and is used to determine the reduced
velocity, VR which is given by the expression below:

From figure 4 the damping is established in terms of

critical damping for a given mode shade, amplitude (21)
response and frequency.
4. Analysis
The response amplitude for VIV is essential for
calculating stresses and fatigue loading. The amplitude
response is a result of the flow regime around the cable
and the structural damping. The bending stiffness of The reduced velocity is used in section 4.4.4 in [1] to
the cable governs when onset of VIV occurs and which calculate the amplitude of the vibrations, a reduced
vibration frequency that is induced. velocity below 2 means no risk for cross-flow VIV. The
amplitude is then adjusted with a reduction factor, Rk
VIV in power cables is not covered in any standard for damping that is expressed below:
such as [1]. The phenomena has been investigated in
[9] and a model for estimation of onset VIV is proposed
but it requires the dynamic bending stiffness and gives (23)
no method for calculation of the amplitude response.
In order to assess VIV for power cables could one
approach be to use [1] but then it needs to be adapted (24)
to the cable behaviour.

Cables are in many ways very different from pipelines

due to for example: the high specific gravity, the softer

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Fig. 5: Damping ratio versus amplitude response. Fig. 6: Dynamic bending stiffness versus amplitude response.

By assuming a current dominated case for the first damping which reduces the amplitude response but
mode shape an amplitude response of is achieved. The a lower dynamic bending stiffness results in a higher
reduction factor can be calculated as a function of the reduced velocity, in this case the increase in damping
damping ration and the resulting amplitude response as a is dominating over the decrease in reduced velocity.
function of damping is displayed in Figure 5 below: Frequency dependency is something that characterize
viscoelastic behaviour and submarine cables.
Displayed in figure 5 is also the damping ratio as a
function of amplitude response for mode shape 1, 2 and 3 5. Discussion
calculated with the viscoelastic model accounting for the
damping induced by the bitumen layer. The cable used for Cables are in general known to be very resilient against
the calculation in figure 5 was a double armoured cable fatigue and few cases are known where VIV has been an
and a span length of 25 meters was assumed. A shorter issue. This might be due to the fact that submarine cables
span length has the same effect as a higher mode number are very flexible and easily adapts to the seabed compared
with larger curvature causing a higher damping ratio. The to pipelines. The high damping and viscoelastic behaviour
damping ratio of mode 2 is equivalent for a meter long of the dynamic bending stiffness also contributes to
free span. The thicker lines are the amplitude response as preventing the onset of vortex induced vibrations.
a function of damping for the first mode shape in red and
all other mode shapes in green. However, if free spans occurs there are at the moment
no best practice for assessing the risk for VIV and
The proposed model for the dynamic bending moment the resulting effects for submarine cables. This article
is used to investigate how the dynamic bending stiffness proposes a method to adapt the cables behaviour to
will vary with different mode shapes and amplitude a well-established standard for steel pipelines. The
responses. standard, [1] takes several environmental parameters into
consideration such as current statistics, current profile,
Figure 6 shows that the dynamic bending stiffness wave statistics, wave spectrum, directionality, turbulence,
decreases with increased response amplitude. For higher seabed profile, and soil data. This makes it applicable in
mode shapes the decrease in dynamic bending stiffness all kinds of conditions such as current dominated, wave
is more rapid than for lower. This has to be considered in dominated, both shallow and deep water, and for a wide
combination with the results in figure 5. The decrease in range of soil conditions.
dynamic bending stiffness will stop when the damping
curve between the amplitude response in [1] intersect Limited testing has been performed within the area but in
with the increased damping as a function of amplitude [9] a full scale test has been performed and the vibration
response for the cable, as displayed in figure 5. By amplitude was found to be 0,4 (A/D) for the first mode
comparing figure 5 and 6 it can be concluded how much shape, which indicates a very high damping level. The
the dynamic bending stiffness will decrease when the cable in the test was a double armoured mass impregnated
vibrations starts, and in this case it is no more than 5 %. cable with a lead sheath. The difference in static and
dynamic bending stiffness was also observed with a
Figure 7 shows that low frequencies has an insignificant static bending stiffness estimated to 5-15 kNm2 for single
impact on the dynamic bending stiffness; the change armoured cables and the dynamic bending stiffness in the
in dynamic bending stiffness is about 2 % between 0.5 range of 70-90 kNm2. That observation also indicates a
Hz and 2 Hz. Lower frequency results in an increased highly viscoelastic behaviour of the submarine cable.

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Fig. 7: Frequency dependency for damping and dynamic bending stiffness

5.1. Application in DNV-RP-F105 colleagues and especially Andreas Tyrberg in order to be

able to develop and discuss these models.
When predicting VIV for power cables the cables dynamic
bending stiffness and damping ratio shall be utilised either 7. References
with the full hysteresis loop for a given mode shape in a
purpose built software or with the methodology described [1] DNV Recommended Practice RP-F105 Free Spanning Pipelines,
in [1]. When using [1] the following approach can be 2006, Det Norske Veritas
utilised in order to take the cables viscoelastic behaviour [2] N. Sdahl, O. Steinkjer, E. Gjlmesli and K. Hansen-Zahl, 2011,
into account: Consistent VIV Fatigue Analysis Methodology of Umbilicals,
Proceedings of the 30th International Conference on Ocean and
Calculate the dynamic bending stiffness for a small Arctic Engineering, OMAE2011-49459
curvature and low frequency and then multiply with 0.9 [3] G. Skeie, N. Sdahl and O. Steinkjer, 2012, Efficient Fatigue Analysis
in order to account for the 2% in frequency dependency of Helix Elements in Umbilicals and Flexible Risers: Theory and
and 5% in amplitude dependency. This approach is to be Applications Journal of Applied Mathematics, Vol. 2012, 246812
considered as conservative since a lower dynamic bending [4] L. Halvor, H. Braaten, T. Kristianssen and F.G. Nielsen, 2007,
stiffness creates a lower Eigen frequency and a higher Free-pan VIV Testing Of Full-Scale Umbilical, Proceedings of
reduced velocity. the Seventeenth International Offshore and Polar Engineering
The obtained reduced velocity is then used to calculate the Conference.
corresponding response amplitude without reduction for [5] J. Mullins, D. Morin, A. Tyrberg, C. Sonesson and J. Ekh, 2015,
damping. Bitumen shear mechanics in a dynamic subsea electrical cable,
The damping is later obtained in the intersection between Proceedings of the 34th International Conference on Ocean and
the damping as a function of amplitude response for the Arctic Engineering, OMAE2015-41110
cable and the amplitude response as a function of the [6] M. Lutchansky, 1969, Axial stress in armour wires of bent submarine
damping ratio with the given reduced velocity according cables, Journal of Engineering Industry. 91(3) 687-693.
to reference [8]. This results in the damping ratio for [7] J.E. Guyer, D. Wheeler and J. A. Warren, 2009, Fipy: Partial
where the vibration is in equilibrium with the damping. Differential Equations with Python, Computing in Science &
An example of this is displayed in figure 5. Engineering. 11(3) 6-15
For calculation of the sagging term in reference [8] the static [8] R.D. Blevins, 1994, Flow Induced Vibrations, Krieger Publishing Co.,
bending stiffness shall be used in order to accommodate Florida, USA, 336-337
for the sagging over time. [9] G.E. Balog, K. Bjrlow-Larsen, A. Ericsson and B. Dellby, 2006,
Vortex Induced Vibration on Submarine Cables, Cigr Session 2006
By following this methodology the cables viscoelastic
behaviour is taken into account when both the vibration
amplitude and the vibration frequency is calculated. This 8. Biographies
drastically increase the Eigen frequency in the example given
it increases a factor of 16 which results that a 16 times higher Johan Hedlund was born on 16 April 1987 in Karlskrona
water current can be allowed for the same span length. Sweden. He graduated from the faculty of engineering at
Lund University with a master of science in 2012 and took
6. Acknowledgement up a position in engineering at ABB High Voltage Cables
after that.
The author would like to thank for all the support from

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