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What Exactly Is An Underwater Welder?

10 February 2020 | 0 comments | Posted by Che Kohler in Ace of Trades

What an underwater welder does for a living

Artisans are one of the essential job sectors in the world, but many aren't taking note. As the drive for educated staff has a firm focus on the lawyer, doctor and engineer which seems to be the pinnacle of new jobs with blossoming careers some situations have equal value and high remuneration that is still quite unpopular.

Without jobs that produce goods and services the world needs at scale, we wouldn't have the luxuries and lifestyles we have today. One of those underpromoted but highly lucrative jobs is an underwater welder, also known as hyperbaric welding.

What does underwater welder do?

Hyperbaric welding is the process of welding in deep waters and elevated pressures. Hyperbaric welding is seen as a more appropriate term since not all welding is done underwater. You can either take on tasks where you have placed a wet environment underwater or dry inside a specially constructed positive pressure enclosure and hence a dry environment.

What is dry welding?

Dry welding or hyperbaric welding is regarded as the safest way to weld underwater. The process involves using a chamber to seal off the area that requires work. Once the area is secured and sealed a gas mix of oxygen and helium is pumped inside. As the air fills the sealed space, it creates a 'dry' environment usually enough to fit 2 to 3 divers.

Divers can work in a more controlled environment, in what is seen as a safer environment while having the ability to conduct non-destructive tests on the welds.

What is wet welding?

By far the more challenging of the two methods wet welding requires divers have to use a special type of welder shaped like a rod and called an arc welder. Wet welding requires a lot of skill and expertise since it is considered less safe and is normally used as a short term fix.

Dangers of underwater welding

Working deep underwater is a dangerous occupation, you have to deal with nature as well as hazardous tools, and the combination makes things a constant struggle to complete your task.

You have to deal with life-threatening challenges like:

  • Poor visibility
  • Oxygen bubbles
  • Flying debris such pieces of rock or metal
  • Equipment failure
  • Decompression sickness
  • Encounters with sea life
  • Drowning
  • Electrocution
  • Hypothermia

Fortunately, you are not sent into the sea unprepared, and the industry realises the dangers are real. No expense is spared when it comes to commercial diver safety. You will have to follow stringent work and safety practices that are always followed to the letter.

As well as having the best diving and welding equipment money can buy along with training on how to use it all. An underwater welders job leads them to deal with a range of variable such as: 

  • Different atmospheric gas
  • Water and gas pressures
  • Specialised diving and welding equipment
  • Working in limited space
  • Oxygen supply
  • Water supply
  • Electric current supply

Variables like the list above make the job decidedly more complex, which is why this is a field only for expert welder-divers as well as including engineers and managers. Each member of the task team needs to be fully prepared to avoid risks and handle dangers.

To prepare for a dive safety precautions include:

  • Being tethered to the surface
  • Having another welder-diver to assist you
  • Having another diver to monitor the primary welder
  • Being in communication with the team

The safety aspect of the job is taken various seriously and making sure throughout the welding operation goes according to plan ensures that their won't be return visits for the same job and bloating costs for the company.

How to become an underwater welder

Fortunately, anyone picked for a welding job would need to pass extensive training through a vigorous welding course that will train you for these circumstances and more.

If you're interested in starting a career in underwater welding you will need to sign up for a commercial driver training course as well as covering: Marine salvage Pipeline construction Pipeline repair Rigging Operation of marine tools (jack-hammers, hydraulic drills and chainsaws)

It is also important to note the scope of a career in underwater welding since the primary job only represents 5 to 10% of the duties of a commercial diver. Having to remember all your training and apply it every day on the job means you need to have gone through the best practice not only to complete your job but to ensure your safety and that of your fellow divers.

Tell us your artisanal story

Are you a qualified artisan? How has the career path changed your life? Are you interested in becoming an artisan? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Are you looking to promote your business?

South African artisans and manufacturing business owners can create your free business listing on nichemarket. The more information you provide about your business, the easier it will be for your customers to find you online. Registering with nichemarket is easy; all you will need to do is head over to our sign up form and follow the instructions.

If you require a more detailed guide on how to create your profile or your listing, then we highly recommend you check out the following articles. 

Recommended reading

If you enjoyed this post and have a little extra time to dive deeper down the rabbit hole, why not check out the following posts on artisans.

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