Safe and reliable mooring needs ropes to perform, often in adverse weather and changing port conditions. There are four silent saboteurs that degrade performance and safety margins: Fatigue, Abrasion, Creep, and extreme Temperatures. These are the FACTs (for short) that you need to know in order to select the right mooring lines for your vessels. In this article we will take a deeper dive into Abrasion. As a rope starts to look worn and fibers are clearly sticking out or breaking, when do you know it is still safe to use, and when should you either repair it or replace it?
The rough guide to ‘abrasion’
The physical condition of a vessel’s fairleads, and the harbor facilities, are the greatest cause of abrasion on mooring ropes. Both the mooring operation and the ship resting at a berth brings the rope surface in contact with metal surfaces, and often under extreme loads. This back and forth rubbing often affects the same short sections of the rope. If the metal surfaces are rough or rusty abrasion will be accelerated, and it’s immediately visible.
How do you know if abrasion has made a rope unsafe?
Mooring teams rely on their visual inspections to judge if a rope is still safe to be used. With vessels performing hundreds of mooring operations a year, abrasion damage is a gradual process and not easy to judge to the untrained eye. A brand-new rope is smooth, with all fibers intact. The first signs of abrasion will show the surface become fluffy, as the exterior layer of filaments come into contact with fairleads and break. This looks concerning, but in fact this fluff creates a protective layer for the fibers beneath and slows the abrasion damage for the rope core.
Over time, more fibers and filaments will become visibly broken and even stick out of the rope. Once this process has started it is important to consult an expert such as the rope manufacturer to judge if a rope needs repairing or to be replaced. Some rope manufacturers may recommend a protective sleeve for the sections of the rope that will be most susceptible to abrasion.
Trusted performance and a long service lifetime with Dyneema® SK78 fiber
Mooring lines made with Dyneema® SK78 are engineered with up to four times better abrasion resistance than generic alternatives. Higher abrasion resistance enables longer and safer mooring operations.
What makes it tougher against abrasion?
Mooring ropes are made up of millions of fibers. When you see a single filament of Dyneema® SK78 through a powerful microscope you would expect to notice a long, strong chain of atoms. What may surprise you are the additional anchors placed along the chain which provide a hidden reinforcement. When lesser fibers buckle, tear or fail, Dyneema® SK78 fibers hold strong. Only Dyneema® SK78 fiber is made from a tailor-made raw material that is selected with end-uses including mooring in mind.
Welcome on board for real life testing.
The mooring experts from Dyneema® have invested in a dedicated testing facility that can recreate real-life conditions for mooring ropes. Their bespoke abrasion testing machine pulls and rubs the rope across life-size surfaces that replicate a fairlead. This is performed repetitively under realistic loads, both in dry and wet conditions.
Rope-level testing has proven that Dyneema® SK78 fiber delivers four times higher abrasion resistance compared to other generic alternatives. Vessel operators in the maritime industry concur. For decades thousands of vessels have been operating mooring lines made with Dyneema® SK78 fiber. In all conditions, across all classes of vessel, their continuous feedback confirms that maintenance remains minimal and mooring line lifespans remain long.
Ask the abrasion experts
Selecting the right material with the right rope design is essential when looking for more durable breast, head, spring, and stern mooring line systems. Dyneema® SK78 fiber is engineered to deliver trusted strength, longer service life, and reliable performance. Check out the video below to dive deeper into abrasion resistance. And to continue the conversation, scan the QR code below or contact the mooring experts at Dyneema® by using this link Connect to an expert (dsm.com).
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