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There are many marine applications of synthetic ropes, from small handling lines for oceanography to very large mooring lines for offshore platforms. The fibres used in these ropes are visco-elastic and this behaviour affects their long term performance under constant and cyclic loads. In order to predict long term response a model has been developed which accounts for time-dependent behaviour. This model requires parameters to be identified which characterise elastic, visco-elastic and, where necessary visco-plastic components of strain. A procedure has been defined which allows these parameters to be determined rapidly, either at yarn or rope scale. A specific loading sequence of creep and recovery tests involving strain measurement by accurate non-contact image analysis is presented, which provides the necessary input data to allow strain at a given time to be predicted for any loading history. Examples are discussed for aramid and polyester materials.