Date of Award


Level of Access

Campus-Only Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical Engineering


Vincent Caccese

Second Committee Member

Senthil Vel

Third Committee Member

Zhihe Jin


Fiber Reinforced Polymers (FRP's) have a variety of properties that make them desirable for use in marine applications. For instance: high strength, low weight, corrosion resistance, inherent complex forming abilities, and low electromagnetic signature characteristics can be exceedingly advantageous in such areas. However, composites are shown to be unpractical for larger vessels. Composite/metal hybrid systems offer a potential solution to many of the complications encountered in the construction of all-composite naval vessels. While it remains practical to retain metal skeletal structures for a larger naval vessel to have sufficient overall stiffness, integration of composite materials and FRP's into hull-form design is a viable alternative. Naval vessels are dynamically loaded structures, and as such the study of connection fatigue is essential in order to adequately design them. If FRP's are to be incorporated into the design of hull-form structures for naval vessels, the fatigue characteristics of the design must be clearly understood. This is especially true of the connections, since that is where failure due to fatigue is prone to occur. An accurate appraisal of structural integrity depends primarily on proper assessment of the structural response of the connections and interfaces and a sound estimate of the dynamic nature of the loads that induce failure. Accordingly, one must perform a thorough investigation into the mechanics of the connections and interfaces of the vessel. The overall objective of this research is to develop and demonstrate methods for fatigue testing various common and novel hybrid connection for Glass Reinforced Polymer (GRP) composite panels attached to metallic advanced hull-form structures to evaluate their suitability for their desired applications. Testing and analysis techniques were successfully developed and used. It was determined that separate analyses of the individual components of a hybrid joint (e.g., the composite plate and the steel T-section) are insufficient to determine the effects of fatigue loading on a given joint due to the effects of joining methods on the strength. Fatigue testing of a full joint configuration is necessary to adequately evaluate its response to fatigue loading.

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