Extreme weather and freak accidents damage many ocean going vessels each year, often causing them to sink and making them more difficult to access. When this occurs, it is often necessary to perform ship salvage and harbor clearing in order to limit the damage to other vessels or property, reduce the environmental impact, and restore an organized and safe environment for boat travel. Despite the advent of advanced technologies that can help in ship salvage, it is still often necessary for human divers to be involved in the process.
In the United States, the Navy is often involved in these clean-up efforts, and employs special Navy underwater welding divers who work to salvage underwater ships so that they can be safely removed or restored. While ship salvage is part of what goes into being an underwater welder, Navy underwater welders may also be involved in ship and submarine rescue efforts and repair, as well as regular underwater maintenance on especially large vessels. The work that these welders do is difficult, but extremely important.
Training to Become a Navy Underwater Welder
To become an underwater welder, you first must receive diving and underwater training provided by the U.S. Navy. Thus training will not only teach you how to dive, but also how to use specialized equipment for welding and cutting while underwater. You will also be given training on safety and precautions. Training typically takes about 9 months, the vast majority of which is spent diving. In order to qualify for training as a Navy underwater welder, you must be a United States citizen and meet the specific requirements listed below:
After Training and Certification:
To begin work, divers generally must obtain the Second Class Diver certification. Once you have this certification, you will be sent to different locations to perform repair or ship salvage. You may be assigned to a salvage and repair ship or another branch of Naval Special Operations.
It is highly likely you will perform jobs in many different locations throughout the world. After two years of work experience, it is possible to train for the First Class Diver certification. This will enable you to perform more specialized tasks, and will likely increase your pay. Generally, for an underwater welder, yearly salary will commensurate with your experience level. The more experience you gain in underwater welding, the higher your earning potential.
An experienced underwater welder has additional opportunities outside of diving. They might work as a consultant or manager on a large project or clean-up effort. An experienced underwater welder may also work on developing new, more efficient methods for underwater welding.
Underwater welding is a challenging career path. It requires physical strength and the ability perform tasks in drastically different work environments. However, it is an extremely important job that not only facilitates the salvage and maintenance of different vessels, but also provides for a safe boating environment. If you enjoy diving, traveling, and helping communities and your country, a career in as Navy underwater welder may be for you.