External reactor vessel cooling (ERVC) is considered as one of the most promising severe accident management strategies for an in-vessel corium retention (IVR). Heat removal capacity and water availability at the vesgel outer surface can be key factors determining the success of ERVC measures. In this study, for the investigations on the effect of water availability in case of ERVC, flow analyses using the RELAP5/MOD3 code were performed. The analyses were focused to examine the flow behavior inside the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) insulator of the OPR1000 (Optimized Power Reactor 1000 MWe) under a cavity flooding. The current flow analyses results show that for the accident scenarios of station black out (SBO) and 9.6 in. large break loss of coolant accident (LBLOCA) under the ERVC, steam could not ventilate through the insulator and the pressure inside the RPV insulator increased abruptly. This induced a water sweep out and steam domination in the flow path inside the insulator. These flow analyses results indicate that sufficient water ingression and steam venting through the insulator can be a key factor determining the success of the ERVC in the operating nuclear power plant, OPR1000. According to the results of the sensitivity studies for the venting area, in terms of an effective flow circulation inside the insulator, an optimal venting is to assign four holes having a diameter of 0.3 m at the upper exit (hot leg level) of the insulator. And the effect of the inlet flow area at the insulator bottom is rather minor when compared to that of the outlet flow area of a steam venting. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.