- Nonlinear interactions between large waves and freely floating bodies are investigated by a 2D fully nonlinear numerical wave tank (NWT). The fully nonlinear 2D NWT is developed based on the potential theory, MEL/material-node time-marching approach, and boundary element method (BEM). A robust and stable 4th-order Runge-Kutta fully updated time-integration scheme is used with regriding (every time step) and smoothing (every five steps). A special n - type numerical beach on the free surface is developed to minimize wave reflection from end-wall and wave maker. The acceleration-potential formulation and direct mode-decomposition method are used for calculating the time derivative of velocity potential. The indirect mode-decomposition method is also independently developed for cross-checking. The present fully nonlinear simulations for a 2D freely floating barge are compared with the corresponding linear results, Nojiri and Murayama's (Trans. West-Jpn. Soc. Nav. Archit. 51 (1975)) experimental results, and Tanizawa and Minami's (Abstract for the 6th Symposium on Nonlinear and Free-surface Flow, 1998) fully nonlinear simulation results. It is shown that the fully nonlinear results converge to the corresponding linear results as incident wave heights decrease. A noticeable discrepancy between linear and fully nonlinear simulations is observed near the resonance area, where the second and third harmonic sway forces are even bigger than the first harmonic component causing highly nonlinear features in sway time series. The surprisingly large second harmonic heave forces in short waves are also successfully reproduced. The fully updated time-marching scheme is found to be much more robust than the frozen-coefficient method in fully nonlinear simulations with floating bodies. To compare the role of free-surface and body-surface nonlinearities, the body-nonlinear-only case with linearized free-surface condition was separately developed and simulated. 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.