Have you ever looked at a building scheduled for demolishment? They’re not a pretty site: Cracked foundations, shattered windows, caved-in roofs – you name it. Underwater, damage like this can happen even quicker if the structure isn’t maintained.
Underwater inspection aids in the maintenance process. And those often involve an underwater welder.
Basic Underwater Inspection Requirements
Surface Supplied Diving Certification (Restricted/Unrestricted): This is commonly obtained through a underwater welding school. Depending on which diving school you attend, it may be issued and recognized by the Health and Safety Executive, International Marine Contractors Association or Diver Certification Board of Canada. Restricted certifications limit you primarily to inland inspections, while unrestricted allows offshore use in other parts of the world.
Diving Medical Certificate: You may have heard it called Medical Dive Fitness, Dive Physical and other names. Basically, it gives your employer the assurance that you are physically fit to dive and do inspection work. Many dive organizations like PADI provide these certifications. Make sure you know what they’ll be testing when you begin.
Certification Scheme for Personnel (CSWIP) 3.1U underwater inspection: Candidates must pass an application and written test. More advanced levels allow you to operate Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV), which is becoming more common with inspections to ensure underwater welder safety.
Nondestructive Testing Certification (NDT): This is recognized by one of several organizations, including the American Society for Nondestructive Testing, British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing or Polytechnic . Like other certifications, there are various levels you may advance as you build upon your certification.
Underwater Inspection Process: Plan for the Maritime Job
Underwater structures are directly exposed to water, salt and minerals that erode materials overtime.
If you’re a SCUBA diver who’s done underwater photography, you know the value of preplanning. It’s necessary to know where your subjects are and how to capture them. The same goes for maritime inspections.
The job “foreman” will direct and assign responsibilities to each member of the gig (at least three – two or more for surface support). Hyperbaric welders always begin their inspection gigs by communicating and laying out a plan for their job. They may look over blueprints to determine locations of objects and areas that need potential repairs and recording.
Imagery is captured either through photos, video or both. Images can be further edited for optimum use Adobe software or similar work. Their software works quickly and simply – a “must” for jobs on a deadline.
Let’s look into some of the types of jobs that underwater welders may go into for inspection.
Maritime Inspection Examples
- Underwater cracked, loose concrete
- Underwater eroded metal (steel, iron, aluminum). If the metal is welded, they will examine the welds to check for brittleness and cracking.
- Large offshore platforms – structural soundness
- Pipelines – leaks, bad welds
- Vessel hulls – propeller functions, environmental effects
Underwater Inspection Equipment: No Magnifying Glass Needed
Drysuits are the most common type of outerwear for underwater welders. In some cases, they may only need a wetsuit in moderate conditions. Commercial divers use specialized diving helmets that support surface supplied breathing and communication hoses. They also carry an emergency backup tank.
Because of the nature of their job, they may attach a flashlight and/or camera directly to the top of their helmet. This allows them a more “hands-free” approach to their inspection capabilities. These small cameras are nicknamed action cameras; though GoPro is the most well-known, there’s many other brands to choose from.
Certain underwater inspections also call for tools of a more specific nature. If the divers need to bring metallic surface flaws for industrial engineers to examine, they may deploy a Magnaflux or similar tool that uses Magnetic Particle Inspection (MPI). MPI is one form of NDT that divers can provide.
There’s one other “tool” that has become its own specialized field:
You may be more familiar with those used to find sunken ships such as the Titanic. But divers use these everyday to inspect ship hulls, dams, oil rigs and other structures.
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To become an ROV operator, you must have correct certification and training. This is a growing field due to the danger hyperbaric welders face and the advancements in ROV technology.
Underwater Inspections: A Foundation for Diving Gigs
Without maritime inspections, the world would be a much more dangerous, risky place to be. The underwater construction industry requires inspections in almost every conceivable task to increase work efficiency and safety.