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The drive shaft in a marine propulsion system broke, stranding a large vessel along the Canadian seacoast. The shaft was made from quenched and tempered low-alloy steel. Fractographic investigation revealed that the shaft failed under low rotating-bending variable stress. Fatigue propagation occurred on about 95% of the total cross section of the shaft, under both low-cycle and high-cycle fatigue mechanisms. It was found that the fillet radius at the fracture’s origin was smaller than the one provisioned by design. As a result, the stresses at this location exceeded the values used in the design calculations, thus causing the initiation...

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