Beam structures undergoing finite deflections and rotations in space have extensive application in the subsea industry particularly for the analysis of holistic systems with larger numbers of mooring and riser components. In using the finite element analysis approach, there is an increasing requirement for large element sizes which preserve accuracy with regard to the coupling of axial, bending and torsion response.The authors outline a method for improving the current state of practice for the analysis of riser systems. The approach draws on the convected coordinates method, Euler-Bernoulli beam theory, the principle of virtual work and the finite element method. Two quasi-rotation measures are developed including a quasi-material rotation definition for rotational deformation relative to the convected axis of a beam and a quasi-space rotation definition to deal with the path dependent nature of rotations in three dimensions.The novel aspect of this work is to relate the rate of change of the quasi-material rotation vector along the beam axis to a linear transformation of the beam axis rate-of-rotation vector through utilising the convected coordinates axes system. In this way, incremental values of quasi-material rotation are directly linked to incremental values of nodal quasi-space rotation and a global Newton-Raphson solution technique for interconnecting beam elements is straightforward to assemble.Furthermore, this leads to accurate definitions of coupled axial, bending and torque response for beams with significant deflection. The approach has particular advantages in the analysis of subsea riser sections. Also, the accuracy of the solution is preserved for a fewer number of elements compared to alternative solutions for computationally sensitive load cases with highly non-linear loading regimes. (C) 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.