Biz Wave: Sea Sub Systems

Photo property of Sea Sub Systems. Sea Sub Systems diver, Robert Lebaron, during stabilizer fin repair.

Sea Sub Systems (SSS) is over 30 years old, founded by two people. How many individuals do you currently employ?

We currently have 18 employees, seven of whom are divers.

What’s one of the largest vessel projects that SSS has ever worked on? How long did the project last and what were some of the repairs involved?

That depends on how you look at it. In terms of sheer size of the vessel, our assistance with the 50-ton rudder repair in Curacao would probably be it. While not strictly vessel-based, our ongoing work with Port Manatee has included periodic repairs to various berths and sea walls. Specifically, we’ve performed temporary hole repairs with splashzone epoxy, and longer-term solutions with welded plates.

To give a more recent example, we worked on a cruise ship earlier this year that involved welding a stainless steel end cap for a stabilizer pintle, done over the course of four days in both Tampa and Cozumel.

One of your construction services involves steel descaling, which removes iron oxide from metal. Can you briefly explain how this works and what types of equipment you use to do it?

The oxidation part of the metal is removed with a 4,000 PSI water hydro blaster. This prepares the metal to be welded on.

SSS owns two well-equipped crew boats for offshore needs. Have you ever had to repair these?

Yes. Onboard repairs such as the A/C systems and engines are performed by a certified Detroit-Diesel mechanic and boat crew. For anything underwater that does not require a drydock, we utilize our own divers.

What are the stages involved in polishing boat propellers? Does it depend on size and other factors?

First, the marine fouling is removed via scraping or hydro blasting. Depending on the level of growth and size of the propeller, we may utilize a standard dive crew of three men (one diver with two topside), or larger crews of up to seven and more.

Then, the prop is given a two-stage polishing with a micro polish as the finish. For this we use hydraulic rotary polishing grinders with various roughness polishing pads (for example: Course, Extra-Course, Micro, Diamond, etc.).

Do you have your own facilities and inspectors for underwater welding training, or is that done somewhere offsite?

We do not have our own facilities for wet welding training. Those courses (Hydroweld) are held in Miami and Thailand. However, our Senior Diving Supervisor is also a Certified Welding Inspector; that allows for a degree of in-house welding training.

Photo property of Sea Sub Systems. Sea Sub Systems diver, Landon LaMaire, performing a burning operation.

Are most underwater welding projects SSS performs done in wet or dry/hyperbaric environments?

Most of our underwater welding projects are done in a wet welding environment.

Your company was featured on National Geographic’s series, “World’s Toughest Fixes.” What was the situation and how did they contact you?

For that project we acted as subcontractor to a larger affiliated dive company. Two of our employees, the Operations Director and Senior Diving Supervisor, were sent in to assist.

Most of the broad details about the repair are covered in the NG video. Although the feedback we got was that the job ran much as any dive job would, except most going-ons were recorded by a professional crew and there were the additional logistic issues that occur when multiple dive companies (we weren’t the only sub) are collaborating on a single task.

Have you done any offshore work in other countries besides the US? If so, where?

Yes, we’ve performed jobs on or near most of the Caribbean islands.


– Rob LaMaire, Sub Sea Systems Operations Director

Sea Sub Systems specializes in crew boat and commercial diving services, performing repairs, maintenance and underwater installations. They are based out of Florida and started in 1979.