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NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory
Engineering Development Division

Mooring Design

PMEL Engineering development division has over 100 man-years experience in designing, building and deploying moorings and typically deploys over 180 moorings per year around the globe. The design process begins with gaining a detailed understanding of the science goals, requirements and budget constraints. Data on environmental conditions including currents, wind, waves, ice, bio-fouling, bathymetry and vandalism potential is critical to the design and time-series data at the deployment location is especially valuable. The mooring design must also factor in corrosion, vessel, deck gear and expected ocean condition for the operation.

The mooring design is then typically modeled for worst-case conditions and a factor of safety is determined. Experience with similar moorings systems is critical in understanding the performance of the new design. PMEL uses a variety of software modeling tools, including WHOI-Cable and Buoy by SDI, to iterate on a design. Critical model output parameters include, mooring tension, tilts and depression. The complete mooring is then drawn on a CAD system with each section and element identified. The mooring diagram serves multiple purposes and is used to convey information to the researcher, ship, engineer and technician on the shop floor.

photo of deployed DART buoy