The GHS Grounding Method
The method assumes that forces due to grounding are buoyancies applied at the
points of grounding. These buoyancies are derived by treating the ground as a
very dense liquid.
Consider a point on the vessel where there is a present or potential contact
between the vessel and the ground. This will be called a "grounding point".
The surface of the ground near such a point is set to a certain level relative
to the surface of the waterplane. This represents the depth of the water at
the grounding point. When the vessel tries to sink into the ground, it
receives a large buoyant force at the grounding point which prevents it from
penetrating very far into the ground. Conversely, if the vessel is raised up
(relative to the ground) so that the grounding point is actually above the
ground surface, the buoyant force due to the ground becomes zero.
Just as the buoyant parts of the vessel receive upward, buoyant forces from
the water which depend on the depth of immersion, so the grounding points
receive upward buoyant forces which depend on their depths of immersion into
In the case of the water buoyancy, the displaced volume of water (which also
depends on the exact shape of the vessel) determines the magnitude of the
force. In the case of the grounding buoyancy, the mechanics may be quite
different. However, if the "density" of the ground is very great relative to
the density of the water, then for a given increment of weight on the vessel
there will be little penetration into the ground relative to the sinkage which
would take place due to the same weight increment if the ground were not
present. In other words, this model effectively "stops" the vessel from
sinking much further when it hits the ground (which is all it needs to do)
even if the exact mechanics of the "grounding buoyancy" are not precisely
modeled. When a weight is added to the vessel after it is aground, nearly all
of the opposing buoyancy required to support the weight comes from the ground.
In order to achieve this, the only requirement is that the ground buoyancy vs.
penetration function be steep relative to the water buoyancy vs. sinkage
In applying this theory, GHS makes the assumption that the ground buoyancy vs.
penetration function always has the form,
b = C * (d - d0)2 for d > d0 Equation 1
b = 0 for d < d0
where b is the buoyant force at the grounding point, d is the depth of the
grounding point below the waterplane, and d0 is the depth of the ground
surface below the waterplane near that point.
Figure 1 depicts this function:
The constant C is chosen such that the buoyant force becomes sufficiently
large to "stop" the vessel so that it sinks not very far into the ground.
GHS assumes that "not very far" means a small distance relative to the size of
the vessel. If the user allows GHS to select the value of C automatically, it
selects a value which would produce a buoyant force equal to the entire weight
of the vessel if the ground/vessel penetration were 0.2% of the length of the
vessel. The user is free to provide a different value, as will be shown below.
Note that this is one of the simplest ways of meeting the requirement that the
grounding buoyancy respond sharply to the penetration. It is not intended to
model any other characteristic of the ground/vessel interaction. Unlike real
ground, this model springs back when the penetration is reduced: the same
buoyancy appears at the same penetration regardless of whether it is
approached from a lesser or a greater penetration.
Equation 1 also allows an effective "waterplane area" to be derived at a given
penetration by taking the first derivative:
a*D =2C * (d - d0) for d > d0 Equation 2
a*D = 0 for d < d0
where D is the density of the water (weight per volume), and a is the
effective waterplane area. In this manner the total effective waterplane area,
center and moments of inertia can be calculated (assuming, for inertia
purposes, that the grounding point is truly a point).
While this contribution to the effective waterplane area makes it possible to
derive the usual weight-to-immerse, center of flotation and GM values in a
grounded condition, these values have large changes for small changes in the
vessel's draft, trim and heel due to the nonlinearity of equation 1.
The number of grounding points required to model a particular grounding will,
of course, depend on the details of the situation. GHS allows as many as 400
grounding points. Note that a single grounding point may be sufficient to
represent a large area of contact with the ground. The location of the point
should be close to the center of such an area.
Grounding points are defined through an extension of the ADD command in a
manner analogous to the definition of weight items; viz. description,
magnitude of force and location are given. The simplest form is
ADD "description" b, l,t,v /GR
The /GR parameter indicates that a grounding point is being defined, rather
than a fixed weight item. The point (l,t,v) is the location of the grounding
point (usually a point on the bottom of the hull) where the coordinates are in
the ship's coordinate system (grounding points are tied to the vessel).
The b parameter is the magnitude of the buoyancy due to the grounding point at
the present water depth. Therefore, the waterplane must be set up to represent
the grounded condition before the ADD command is issued.
The above form of the command assumes that the grounding point is in contact
with the ground. If b = 0, then the depth to the ground is assumed to be
exactly the same as the depth of the grounding point. If b > 0, the depth of
the grounding point is taken to be greater than the depth of the ground; ie.
enough greater to cause the force b to result from the penetration according
to equation 1. Values of b < 0 are not allowed.
It may seem that there is a difficulty with this method, since the value of b
will seldom be accurately unknown. However, due to firmness of the ground, an
error in the initial specification of b will usually not have significant
consequences. Note that the b value given with the ADD command is only at the
present depth. As soon as the depth changes, the value of b automatically
changes also. Therefore, if the given value is too small, the vessel will
settle down to a slightly deeper draft. If the given value is too great it
will rise up a bit until the ground reaction makes up whatever buoyancy is
missing from the displacement of water. But the change in draft required will
often be relatively small compared with the accuracy required in the analysis.
If a more precise result is required, a two-step process may be used wherein
the initial estimate of b is refined after the equilibrium value is found.
As with other adjustments to the state of the vessel, GHS does not adjust the
waterplane (draft, trim and heel) until instructed to do so. Thus the
procedure is to issue one or more ADD /GR commands followed by a SOLVE command
to find equilibrium. After that, a STATUS command may be given to examine the
magnitude of the ground reaction at each grounding point.
If the firmness of the ground which GHS automatically assigns "by default" is
inappropriate, an additional parameter may be given. For example,
ADD "Sand Bar", 100, 75F, 0, 0 /GR: 2.0
tells the computer that an estimated 100 weight units of ground reaction is
located at the center keel 75 length units forward, and that the penetration
into the ground at that point is 2.0 length units. Referring to equation 1,
this means that
(d-d0) = 2.0
b = 100
therefore C = 25.0.
Thus the ADD command has had the effect of specifying the value of C for that
grounding point. (Other grounding points may use different values of C.)
It is possible to define a grounding point which is, at the time of
definition, not in contact with the ground. For example,
ADD "Port Bilge", 0, 12A, 35P, 1 /GR: -2.0
As before, the "-2.0" is the penetration into the ground, but being negative
it indicates a distance above the ground surface. In other words, this
grounding point will have to go 2.0 length units deeper before it contacts the
ground. Obviously, the b value must be zero when the penetration parameter is
The firmness of the ground in this example is at its "default" value. If it is
necessary to specify the firmness when the grounding point is above the
ground, an additional parameter may be given. For example,
ADD "Port Bilge", 0, 12A, 35P, 1 /GR: -2.0, 3.0
In this case, the 3.0 is the "maximum" penetration, which is defined as the
penetration which would occur if the entire weight of the vessel (except tank
loads) were pressing at that point. When making such an estimation, it should
be remembered that a ground point represents the middle of an area of contact,
and the size of the area may increase with the penetration.
It should be clear that unless the ground is unusually soft, great accuracy in
the setting of the ground firmness is not ordinarily necessary.
Comparison with the Negative Weight Method
A traditional method of representing a ground reaction is to locate a
"negative weight" at the point of grounding (GHS is still able to apply this
While the same ground reactions can be simulated with either method, the
"negative weight" method has limited usefulness for ascertaining stability
when grounded. This is due to the inability of the negative weights to respond
to changes in the trim or heel of the vessel.
While the GM calculated with a negative weight is valid for single-point
grounding where the point of ground contact happens to be under the center of
flotation, it is less valid in other cases. On the other hand, the positive
buoyancy method, by contributing to the waterplane properties, results in a GM
which is theoretically valid, though it may change very rapidly due the
inherent nonlinearity of the ground forces.
Another advantage of the new method is that the distribution of the ground
reaction among several grounding points is automatic.
Example 1 - Single-Point Grounding
Consider a case of single-point grounding where the grounding point is to one side of the vessel (see figure 2). For some range of heel, the vessel would have to pivot on the point of grounding, after
which it would float free. The angle at which it would float free would depend on the direction of heel. This is exactly the behavior which GHS would simulate with a single grounding point. The followi
ng series of commands could be used:
TRIM = t0 | HEEL = h0 | DEPTH = d0
ADD"description" b, l,t,v /GR
HEEL = *+5
HEEL = 30P
This produces a series of status reports from 25 port heel to 30 starboard
heel, each report showing the ground reaction and righting arm.
Example 2 - Two-Point Grounding
Consider a two-point grounding case as illustrated in figure 3, and assume
that longitudinal strength is to be checked. The following commands provide
TRIM = t0 | HEEL = h0 | DEPTH = d0 ADD "fwd descr" b1, l1,t1,v1 /GR
ADD "aft descr" b2, l2,t2,v2 /GR
Setting Depth and Changing Tide
In a salvage situation, when the stranded vessel is not on an even keel, it may be necessary to set the vessel's depth by means of a measurement taken at some point on the hull which is not near the ce
nterline; hence it would inconvenient to use the DEPTH or DRAFT command. In such a case, the new HEIGHT command is useful.
The HEIGHT command takes the height of a Critical Point relative to the water
measured perpendicular to the waterplane. Hence, any convenient point on the
vessel may be used to establish its depth or draft. For example,
TRIM = t0 | HEEL = h0
CRTPT (1) "description", l,t,v
HEIGHT (1) = d
where d is the distance from critical point #1 to the water (positive if above
the water, negative if below the surface).
It was mentioned above that the depth of the ground at each grounding point is
fixed at the time that the ADD command is given. If a DEPTH or HEIGHT command
is given after the grounding points are defined, all of the depths at the
grounding points are changed by the same amount that the vessel's draft is
changed. This is a convenient way of simulating a change of tide level.
If you would like to see another bulletin created regarding a specific topic,
please email Creative Systems, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright (C) 2011
Creative Systems, Inc.