Going to the Shipyard, Day 2

Today is the 2nd day and I am scheduled to do NOTHING! The temp agency uses today for processing all of our paperwork from yesterday.

God allowed me to get through the breathing, vision, hexavalent chromium, and other tests fine.

I learned a few things yesterday though based on conversations around the table with the other welders that were there.

  • Just because the job description requires you to have experience doing something, you don’t have to as long as you can convince the temp agency you have done it.
  • One begins to get worried when the “everyone gets a trophy” concept doesn’t apply and its best handled by indicating you don’t need this job and was just here to “check it out”.
  • If you talk about something like you have done it but haven’t and there is someone else in the room who has, you begin asking more than telling.
  • There is PLENTY of work in the area. It may not all pay $50.00 an hour, but its still pretty good.

All of the folks yesterday were experienced welders. As the conversation went on, it became obvious that some who had made it through the screening process had not done some of the tasks required to be “qualified” to apply. The welding skills on a ship were much different than what I have done since becoming a civilian MANY years ago. I had quite an adjustment when becoming a civilian. Hopefully, my adjustment back to welding on ship components will turn out ok.

Here are some things that are “probably” different welding on ships as compared to in plants. (I am speaking from experience MANY years ago)

  • Access. Though I have run into a few “tight spots” in the field in various plants since getting out of the Navy, it was not the normal situation. During my enlistment in the Navy I probably welded on a joint requiring a mirror or with restricted access every few welds. Even in boiler tube welding as a civilian didn’t require the use of a mirror. Sometimes they were handy for making things easier, but not required. On Navy Ships, if you have to weld in an area with 12″ or less restriction around the joint, you have to test that way. As far as ASME Sec. IX goes, thats not an issue.
  • Quality The welding on naval ships is governed by codes just like many systems in plants, utilities, and manufacturing operations. The codes used on ships may or may not be more restrictive however you can be pretty confident they are more often applied, monitored, and audited much more than civilian codes. When you’re making a product for the US Government/Military, you can be pretty sure they monitor what you’re doing! It doesn’t mean the welders are any better or worse, but the controls in place to assure quality welds are more often actually in place both in writing and in practice. In the civilian world, the practice part doesn’t always happen.
  • Production When I was in the Navy we worked “TC” (Till Complete) on many jobs. We cut out, prepped, fit, and welded our own welds. Our shop (26A/B), did all of the Nuclear and Non-Nuclear power plant components on the tended units that were NOT done by the shipyard. If we did a 1″ Socket Welded, Carbon Steel Valve, it would often be a full day or longer just to get from breaking the line to turning the work back over to the ship. Much of this was the result of the extensive amount of controls for documentation, materials, FME (Foreign Material Exclusion), Inspection, and Testing. Though the welds were just 2 small sockets, all of the support activities were time consuming. We also didn’t weld very fast. 1/16″ filler metal was the norm. very seldom was a tig rig run at over 120 amps. Though we were skilled at what we did, we didn’t have the exposure to many facets of welding. When I got out and worked for a boiler company and made 30 RT quality Waterwall Tube welds in a 12-hour shift without having to burr bit every start and stop, I realized the world operated much faster out here. Because of the lack of paperwork, working in the civilian world probably goes much faster, but I won’t know till I get there.
  • Safety Many of the OSHA rules did not apply to what we did however if I went to get an electric tool, I know it was safe and had been checked by the electrical department. On the other side of that, It was nothing to “work alone” in a confined location with no method to communicate with others. I remember getting physically “stuck” on a submarine when trying to get out from behind the machinery. Nobody at all in the engine room that could hear me. I finally got free. Today, I’m pretty sure in a shipyard, things are different.


Maybe more later.



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