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Forces of Nature

Offshore Foundation Design 

In the early days of the industry it was important to develop reliable foundation designs for offshore structures. McClelland Engineers, Inc. pioneered the application of soil mechanics and foundation engineering (now called geotechnical engineering) for the foundation design for both fixed and mobile offshore platforms.

First it was necessary to determine the composition of the seafloor. The first marine soil mechanics boring was performed in August 1947 for the California Co. in 22 feet of water at a proposed platform site offshore Louisiana. It was drilled by a conventional land rig placed on a small platform designed and fabricated by McClelland Engineers. In the next six years about twenty similar borings were done along the Texas/Louisiana coastline. In 1953, Robert Perkins developed the technique of drilling from an anchored barge with a land rig cantilevered over the side.

In 1962, wireline sampling in uncased boreholes was introduced and became a cost effective procedure for conducting geotechnical investigations in deep water. In 1966, the remote vane was developed to make in situ measurements of clay shear strength from floating vessels.

In addition to determining the consistency of foundation materials, the technical contributions to the design of offshore foundations by McClelland Engineers were equally pioneering. In 1953, Bramlette McClelland and John Focht made landmark analyses of lateral load tests on offshore piles resulting in an ASME paper titled, "Soil Mechanics Applied to Mobile Drilling Structures". In 1956, they introduced the concept of limiting skin friction of stiff clays for driven piles, and they proposed the technique, now known as the "p-y concept", for the analysis of laterally loaded piles. API RP2A reflects their research on the tensile capacity of driven and jetted piles in sand. During the 60s, they developed comprehensive criteria for predicting capacity of driven and grouted single piles or circular pile groups in sands and soft marine clays. This program was paralleled by research on clay shear strength as influenced by different sampling and testing methods.

Recognizing the pioneering efforts of the following individuals and companies who contributed to the development of this technology:

John A. Focht, Jr., Bramlette McClelland, and Robert L. Perkins
McClelland Engineers, Inc. (Fugro-McClelland Marine Geosciences, Inc.)

 

 


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