The motion and structural response to wave loading are studied experimentally for a large ship modeled with multiple segments and beams of variable cross-sections. As opposed to the traditional method with small number of segments and beams of uniform cross-section, the multi-segmented model with beams of variable cross-sections can more accurately simulate some of the hull properties that will otherwise be neglected.

In this paper, the design method for the multi-segmented model is presented, and the model test results for the multi-segmented model with variable cross-section beams are compared with the traditional uniform beams and less segmented model for calm water, regular and irregular wave conditions. The influences of the segment number, variable cross-section, vessel speed and wave height are investigated using the load forecasting methods based on the rigid body and hydroelastic theories. It has been found that using variable cross-section beams can simulate hull stiffness of each section more accurately, and with the increase of the segment number in the ship model, the high frequency characteristics of the bending response are better reflected. Furthermore, the calculation results agree well with the experimental data, and the hydroelastic theory is found to be able to predict the higher frequencies of the hull structural responses. At the same time, with the increase of the vessel speed and wave height, the bending moment and wave height show an obvious nonlinear relationship.

The methods and results presented in this paper have a certain guiding significance for the tank model tests and design of large ship structures.

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