Suction piles are a form of foundation widely adopted in the offshore energy industry. Efforts to enhance the combined Vertical-Horizontal (V-H) performance of piles with the addition of fins, attracted interest from the engineering community in the beginning of the 21st century. Design of this enhancement was surfaced whilst examining foundation solutions for renewable energy projects. Studies to date have primarly considered relatively shallow waters comprising sandy soils, with the behaviour of fin-enhanced piles in very soft to soft clay soils, receiving less attention. The present study emphasis is on typical deep-water deposits of soft clay and attempts to evaluate the impact of varying fin length, shape, orientation and location, on the combined capacity of suction piles by means of three-dimensional finite element analyses. The paper investigates two types of load configuration; in the first instance loading at the pile head and secondly with the load attachment point located at approximately two thirds of the pile embedded length. These two configurations cover different foundation solutions, such as support for subsea infrastructure and anchoring for floating facilities, respectively. Optimum fin-enhanced suction pile configurations are presented for each application, with the results from this study indicating an increase of the load-carrying capacity in V-H space, whilst reducing the overall suction pile size. The efficiency of various configurations is presented with composite plots of increase in holding capacity, plotted against the increase in steel surface area. Preliminary recommendations on fin length, location, shape and orientation for typical suction pile applications are presented with intent to demonstrate the potential for cost savings and reduction in both operational and schedule risk.

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