Design of bridges against ship collisions

Preben Terndrup Pedersen*, Jun Chen, Ling Zhu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The paper outlines a rational design procedure for bridge piers and pylons against ship collision impacts. Firstly, a set of risk acceptance criteria are proposed. This is followed by a mathematically based procedure for calculation of the probability of critical ship meeting situations near the bridge, and the probability of ship collision accidents caused by human errors as well as technical errors. This first part of the paper leads to identification of the largest striking ship, “design vessels”, a given bridge pier must withstand without structural failure in order for the bridge connection to fulfil the risk acceptance criteria. The final part of the paper is devoted to an analysis of the needed impact capacity for the bridge pylons and piers exposed to ship bow impact loads from these “design vessels”. For a number of different ship types and different tonnage merchant vessels, load – displacement relations for ship bow collisions against rigid walls are derived. Based on these comprehensive numerical results, a new empirical relation is derived which is suited for design against bow collisions. This expression for maximum bow collision forces is compared with a previously published expression for ice-strengthened ships and with existing standards for assessment of bow crushing forces. It is shown that there is need for an update of these existing standards. For design of piers and pylons against local impact pressure loads, a pressure - area relation for bulbous bow impacts is derived.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102810
JournalMarine Structures
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Acceptance criteria
  • Bridges
  • Design vessels
  • Eurocode
  • Ship collisions


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