The influence of local defects or flaws and through the thickness cracks on the load carrying capability and structural behavior of steel cylindrical shells subject to internal pressure is investigated. An integrated computer code is used for the simulation of structural degradation under loading. Damage initiation, growth, accumulation, and propagation to structural fracture are included in the simulation. A mapping method is utilized to accurately simulate damage and fracture progression using a relatively coarse finite element mesh. A thick shell finite element model, subdivided across its thickness to a finite number of layers, is used to enable representation of gradual local damage growth across the shell thickness. Computational results are compared with traditional fracture mechanics for a design case, as well as with experimental data from the literature. The effect of local defects such as partial-thickness flaws and through-the-thickness slits on the durability of pressurized cylindrical shells is examined in detail.
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