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What is the difference in design philosophy between flexible dolphin and rigid dolphin?

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(A) Rigid dolphin
The impact energy of vessel is absorbed mainly by fender. As such, the dolphin itself is designed as a rigid structure with a group of piles. The piles serve to transfer the reaction force from fender system to the foundation soils. The design of rigid fender is similar to other structures and the strength and stiffness of rigid dolphin should be sufficient to withstand berthing forces without causing excessive deformations.

(B) Flexible dolphin
The impact energy of vessel is absorbed by lateral deflection of piles. The dolphin itself performs both the functions of fender and berthing structure. Flexible dolphin is particular suitable in deep water region because the energy absorption capacity is a function of pile length. The pile stiffness could not be designed to be too low because large deflection of pile may occur so that the pile may touch the jetty or the vessel may touch the pile. On the other hand, pile stiffness could not be designed to be too high because of potential yielding of piles or vessel’s hull.

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This question is taken from book named – A Closer Look at Prevailing Civil Engineering Practice – What, Why and How by Vincent T. H. CHU.

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