A Complete Guide to Underwater-Welding Process

Guide to all welding processes.
SOURCE: Elia E. Levi and welding-advisers.com


Underwater-welding for saving while rescuing:

SOLUTIONS with Effective, Powerful Advice

Should I take the plunge?

Underwater-welding , enclosure welding, hyperbaric enclosure welding, wet Underwater-welding, high pressure water jet welding, other welding
processes: friction welding, resistance welding, arc welding, tig welding, mig welding, oxyacetylene welding, electron beam welding, laser beam welding, welding techniques, welding information, welding links, welding tips, welding instructions, improving welding results, welding safety issues, joining questions needing answers: these are some of the items developed in this Site for the benefit of interested readers.

What is in here for me?

Underwater-welding, one of the best examples of adapting a well-known process to the harsh and dangerous environment of the sea, demonstrates what necessity, ingenuity and continuing efforts could accomplish, mostly to save huge investments in offshore structures that were damaged and needed repair.

What is there, deep in the water? Does it pay?

The advantages are of economical nature because Underwater-welding for marine maintenance and repair jobs bypasses the need to pull the structure out of the sea and saves much valuable time. If one thinks of Underwater-welding the hull of a ship or of a partially submerged oil drilling tower, one understands that the alternative may be extremely expensive, if at all possible.

The limitations of Underwater-welding concern the inevitable bulky and expensive setup to provide the welder with all the support needed, for respiration, for protection from cold, for special welding equipment, for a remote surveillance camera, for special non-destructive testing.

Is it risky?

The main risks for the welder performing Underwater-welding are the potential for electric shock, the possibility of producing in the arc mixtures of hydrogen and oxygen in pockets, which might set up an explosion, and the common danger sustained by divers, of having nitrogen diffuse in the blood in dangerous proportions. Curiously the risk of drowning is not listed with the hazards of Underwater-welding.

First, there were no demands for quality. Underwater-welding was just applied to weld a patch until a more thorough repair could be performed. But as soon as more experience was gained, ambitious individuals and companies joined forces to improve results and to establish achievable specifications.


Let us continue…

… with some more details on Underwater-welding. There are three main ways to perform Underwater-welding. One is to build an enclosure, a pit, around the place of repair, and to pump away all the water: that amounts to prepare the conditions for normal welding in air, although the place may be deep under sea level.

Another method of Underwater-welding consists of preparing an enclosure to be filled with gas (helium) under high pressure (hyperbaric) to push water back, and have the welder, fitted with a breathing mask and other protective equipment, weld quite normally out of the water but under pressure.

The third is the wet Underwater-welding method, where no attempts are made to dry up the location of welding. Instead, the power of the arc generates a bubble of a mixture of gases which lets metal melting and joining occur more or less normally, using specially covered electrodes to avoid that too much hydrogen be absorbed in the weld. The skilled welder must also be a diver, equipped for Underwater-welding, with all the extra equipment and protection a welder must use.

There is also a less used method of Underwater-welding which features a special torch that sprays a cone of high-pressure water, within which protective gas under pressure insulates the weld location from the water during welding.
Underwater welding

Frequently Asked Information

Basic informations and suggestions on this subject can be found by clicking on Taking the Plunge.

A short list of educational facilities is available by clicking on

An informative article describing developments and achievements of this demanding specialty can be read by clicking here.

Another recommended article explaining the essential subjects of such schooling and training program can be seen here.

Note: Let us make it clear at once that Underwater-welding has nothing to do and should not be confused with Submerged Arc Welding which is a specialized process described in a page on Arc Welding, and which is performed outside water.

Other Welding Processes.

Even if you are not familiar with Underwater-welding, you certainly know your processes. But how could a different one be selected?

By first knowing what other processes look like. One can certainly learn the most by enrolling in training courses if it makes sense.

You know that there is no universal welding process perfectly adapted and convenient to whatever form and material joining. However, in most cases, one or more processes may be selected which permit acceptable welds to be performed.

How would you select your process? Is the process you use the best one? How would you improve on it? What is the best process?

Tip!: The “best” process is the least expensive and available one that can be used to produce acceptable welds performing the functions of strength and stability required for the joint.

If you are looking…

… for information on other welding PROCESSES, chances are you will be able to find what interests you just by browsing here. However, if you do not find what you look for, write to us by e-mail at questions@welding-advisers.com

The following descriptive information of only the most important processes is provided for general orientation leaving more specific details to be found in the underlined referenced pages hereafter.

For practical purposes of designation, processes are usually divided between PRESSURE and FUSION WELDING. In the first type, the pressure is always applied, with or without external means to provide heat, while melting temperature may or may not be reached. In the second type melting temperature is usually reached locally without the use of pressure.

Did you know that…

Welding history recognizes FORGE WELDING, which belongs to the pressure category, as one of the oldest processes performed in the blacksmith’s shop well before the twentieth century. Do you agree that it could be a very interesting experience for school-children to watch if somebody wanted to revive the practice for a show? Would you organize that for your community?

This joining is achieved when two elements, usually steel bar ends, heated to a white temperature in a coal-burning forced air furnace, are brought rapidly together and hammered thoroughly on the anvil to expel any oxide layer which might be present and to work them intimately to complete union.

Similar but different…

A modern sophisticated version, called FRICTION WELDING was developed, which has some important applications, especially for mass production or for specialized repairs. In general, it is not for job-shops, but small shops dedicated only to this specialty may thrive, given the right conditions. A description of the process follows in the dedicated page: click on Friction Welding Process.

Most important in the pressure category are RESISTANCE WELDING processes, further divided into spot, seam, and projection welding, frequently highly automated. Many of our everyday household items and car bodies are held together by resistance welds. How would you decide if it is the right solution for your welding problems and how could you improve on it?

These processes share the fact that heating is produced by the resistance to the flow of a concentrated high electric current which is made to pass locally between special copper electrodes holding the elements to be welded together under applied pressure. For more details click on Resistance Welding.

On the other hand…

Of the fusion welding processes developed in the twentieth century, and acclaimed as a real and important breakthrough, GAS WELDING, using an open FLAME, is probably one of the earliest of modern welding history. In this manual process, the heat required for local progressive melting is provided by the flame of combustion of acetylene gas (other gases were tried and abandoned) with oxygen. A filler metal rod of an appropriate composition may or may not be used as required.

In preparation for Underwater-welding, there may be a need to perform flame cutting using hydrogen gas. (Flame welding is not used). See details in Cutting.

ARC WELDING represents a family of quite different processes, each one best adapted to its particular application niche. In these processes the energy required for melting the metals is provided by an electric arc, struck between the electrode, held by the torch, and the workpiece, usually clamped on a welding table.

Underwater-welding is mostly performed by variations on this process, taking into account the particular environmental and operator’s requirements.

In the general case, the electrode is either consumable, melting to provide filler material, or non-consumable, being made from a refractory tungsten alloy. In this case, when needed, the filler metal is provided separately either from a manually held filler rod or from a reel fed continuously in automatic or semi-automatic equipment.

The needed protective atmosphere is provided by gases from decomposition processes of suitable materials, enrobing the electrodes (sticks) or included in the core of specially prepared (flux-cored) filler wires. Otherwise, a stream of an inert gas like Argon or carbon dioxide (CO 2) or mixtures thereof is continuously supplied to the molten pool through the torch.


Last but most important…

High Energy Welding processes are more specialized, in that they require sophisticated equipment, mostly precisely computer-controlled, and are used for specific and important applications like aerospace, submarine (but not Underwater-welding!) and nuclear, or for mass production of delicate small implements.


Many materials on this site were prepared by one or more independent third parties, and we are not responsible for their content. We are providing these materials to you as a convenience We did not investigate or verify the information in any such materials and the inclusion of any material does not imply that we endorse it. The sponsors of this site make no representation as to the accuracy of the information in the materials. The sponsors do not intend to and expressly disclaim any duty to update or correct such information.