Underwater welding brings the dreams of adventure and high pay to the heart of most Commercial Divers. Commercial divers are called upon to tackle a variety of operations while deployed. One of the most challenging is underwater welding which demands a highly focused and trained welder.
First: What is hyperbaric welding vs underwater welding?
Underwater welding is exactly as it reads. Welding while submersed in water. Weld strength and quality are highly dependent on the welder’s skill set and focus. Welds are easily contaminated so hyperbaric welding is preferred.
Hyperbaric welding refers to welds performed in a pressurized environment. The underwater welder and the components to be welded are inside a pressurized dry chamber allowing the welder to focus and use conventional welding practices and materials.
History of Hyperbaric Welding: A working welder’s perspective
Sid Preskitt, one of our instructors, contributes the following on diving during the 70’s and 80’s. Sid worked the oil fields referenced for 20 years.
In 1969 Phillips Petroleum discovered large deposits of recoverable oil and natural gas in the Ekofisk sector of the central North Sea. Following on this were discoveries by AMOCO in the Montrose and Forties Fields, Shell hit paydirt in the northern Brent field and others came quickly at Statfjord and Ninian Fields. in an area of the world known for its volatile weather. This escalated the already exorbidant cost of offshore oil production to the point that costs for developing the methods and technologies to work safely in this very harsh marine enviroment exceeded the budget to land a man on the moon.
The development of these fields entailed laying hundreds of miles of submarine pipelines tying together production platforms and shoreside refineries in Great Britian, Scotland, Germany, Denmark and Norway. In the past the traditional way to make pipeline connections on the seabed was with a standard bolt up flanged connection which were often time consuming and troubelsome to line up correctly and worse prone to leak. However, Taylor Diving Co. developed a new method, Hyperbaric Welding which soon came to be in high demand in the rough and tumble of the North Sea.
With the Hyperbaric Welding process a high quality welded connection could now be made on the sea bed in a dry habitat as deep as 1000′ while maintaining very high weld standards that met rigiorus testing criteria. When Taylor developed this process it looked within their ranks of experenced divers and trained them in stick and TIG welding. X-Ray inspection certifications were required too as the completed weld was required to pass X-ray inspection. Taylor also developed a Submarine Pipe Alignment Rig known as a SPAR unit. 60′ long, 20′ wide and 15′ high this tubular framework featured four hydralic clamps for up to 36″ pipe and had a centrally located welding habitat suspended on four hydralic rams. Taylor’s SPAR units were highly sought after by offshore operators who saw the advantage and safety of hyperbarically welded seabed pipeline connections. The Diver/Welders that Taylor employed were highly skilled and were required to perform a test weld at the depth of each prospective job while in a saturation diving mode. Taylor’s Diver/Welders were an elite group that were at the pinnical of the commercial diving, underwater welding world. In the Seventies and Eighties Taylor Diver/Welders made probably well over a hundred welded pipeline connections on the frigidly cold seabed of the North Sea, there has never been any record of any failure.
Sid notes that:
This past summer a Dutch company, DCN Diving also made history in underwater welding when they successfully performed a highly inovative hyperbaric welding repair on a live fully pressurised gas pipeline in the Java Sea.
The seven year old 32″ submarine pipeline was cracked and had been temporarly repaired with a PLIDCO clamp. This was an extremely critical repair as the pipeline delivers gas to the 29 million inhabitants of the Indonesian Capitol city of Jakarta and the client insisted that it remain under full pressure. The notion of welding on a fully pressurized gas pipeline on the seabed at a depth of 300′ is something that would be laughed at even in the commercial diving industry where very risky tasks are a daily norm so this was altogether something else.
Learn from underwater welding experts.
All instruction at our commercial diving school is done by professionals. Our staff are all highly trained respected professionals that work in field. Our instructors that have performed hyperbaric welds all over the world and in depths greater than one thousand feet.
We will teach you the basics in underwater welding and teach you how to operate while deployed. You may learn how to weld but you also need to know how job sites, vessels, and co-workers operate. When you graduate from Commercial Diving Technologies LLC, you will have the skills to satisfy most underwater welding requirements that a Commercial Diver will face.
If you have the dedication , perseverance and aptitude, our professional Instructors will guide you to become a highly sought after Hyperbaric welder.