Thick high-strength steel plates are increasingly being used for ship structures. Moreover, hydrogen enters the process of manufacturing and service, and large residual tensile stress occurs near the weld. Such stress can facilitate the diffusion and accumulation of hydrogen in the material, leading to hydrogen embrittlement fracture of the shell. Therefore, residual-stress-induced diffusion and accumulation of hydrogen in the stress concentration region of thick butt-welded high-strength steel plate structures need to be studied. In this study, manual metal arc welding was realized by numerical simulation of residual stress in a thick butt-welded high-strength steel plate model using the thermoelastic–plastic theory and a double ellipsoidal heat source model. To analyze residual stress, a set of numerical simulation methods was obtained through comparative analysis of the test results of relevant literature. Residual and hydrostatic stress distributions were determined based on these methods. Then, hydrogen diffusion parameters in each region of the model were obtained through experimental tests. Finally, the results of the residual stress field were used as the predefined field of hydrogen diffusion to conduct a numerical simulation analysis. The distribution of hydrogen diffusion under the influence of residual stress was obtained based on the theory of stress-induced hydrogen diffusion. The weak area of the welding joint was found to be near the weld toe, which exhibited high hydrostatic stress and hydrogen concentration. Further, the maximum hydrogen concentration value of the vertical weld path was approximately 6.1 ppm, and the maximum value of the path parallel to the weld centerline and 31 mm away from the weld centerline was approximately 6.22 ppm. Finally, the hydrostatic tensile stress in the vertical weld path was maximized (~345 MPa), degrading the material properties and causing hydrogen-related cracking. Hence, a reliable method for the analysis of hydrogen diffusion according to residual stress in thick high-strength steel plates was obtained. This work could provide a research basis for controlling and eliminating the adverse effects of hydrogen on the mechanical properties of ship structures and ensuring the safe service of marine equipment.
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