The motion response of an FPSO is sensitive to the relative intensities and directions of the wind-sea and swell components in a sea state, and the operability of the FPSO is a function of the long-term variation in these components. Estimations of the operability are therefore dependent both on how the sea state is described in terms of its constituent wind-sea and swell components, and on how the long-term variability of the sea state is captured. However, there is currently no consensus on how either the sea state or its long-term variability should be described. We investigate these issues by means of a study of the responses of a typical FPSO to the wave fields at a location offshore Namibia and a location off the west coast of New Zealand. We make use of a state-of-the-art program for splitting a directional wave spectrum into wind-sea and swell components, and we examine the effect on the motion responses of allowing the spectra to be split into many swell partitions or constraining the spectral split to a maximum of two partitions, as is often assumed in response calculations. The resulting decompositions are used to examine the effects of swell on hull motions and, hence, to identify methods for generating sea state criteria for operability. In addition, one-year metocean conditions are estimated; these are relevant for analysis of the limits on operations.