Under severe sea wave conditions, the mooring tethers of submerged floating tunnel (SFT) might go slack. It may cause the structure failure during the service lifetime of SFT. The paper investigated SFT dynamics when going through tether slacking and the related snap force under wave conditions. Besides the nonlinearity of fluid drag and of structural geometry for a relative large structure displacement, the problem is characterized by the nonlinearity due to the discontinuity in axial stiffness of the tethers. To include these nonlinearities, the method of Lagrange energy is used to build the governing equations of SFT motion, and a bilinear oscillator is introduced to simulate the mooring tether operating in an alternating slack-taut state. The sensitivities of the occurrence of tether slacking to wave height and wave period are investigated. Results show that at a large wave height SFT tether will go slack and snap force occurs. SFT responses are categorized into three types of state according to the dynamic response characteristics of tether tension. Effects of two fundamental structure parameters, buoyancy-weight ratio (BWR) and inclined mooring angle (IMA), on the dynamic responses of SFT are analyzed. A slack-taut map of SFT tethers is built. It intuitively describes the occurrences of slack and snap force with different combinations of the two parameters. An analytical approach for slack prediction by deriving the slack criterion is provided to reveal the mechanism of the presented slack-taut map. By present research, the authors tried to make their effort to provide an alternative philosophy for SFT structural design on concerning preventing the occurrence of tether slacking and snap force. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.