Welding & Underwater Welding



Program Overview

Have you ever operated a 10,000℉ flame underwater? Think it sounds hard? Persistence and focus are the keys to mastering this skill in Month 4.

In this course, you’ll learn the skills you need to both weld and burn underwater.

You’ll also get familiar with many new tools. Topside you’ll use the electrode holder, chipping hammer, wire brush, 6010 electrodes, 7018 electrodes, oxy fuel rig which consists of a striker and a smith torch, as well as basic hand tools like grinders and wire wheels. In the water you’ll use twist lock electrode holders, chipping hammers, wire brushes, 7014 electrodes, and Broco exothermic torches.

Underwater welding creates a picture of a Shield Metal Arc welder working at depth. This is known as “wet welding.” The diver is wet, the repair is wet, the welding rod is wet. This is a very common method of underwater welding, and is what our training focuses on.
Another method of underwater welding is known as “habitat welding,” which is done underwater but in a sheltered environment void of water to keep the welding area dry. A dry habitat is installed where either the diver enters from the water into the dry habitat or where the habitat is enclosed so that the welding rod and welding environment stay dry. Both methods take skill and practice.

Within our curriculum at DIT, you’ll learn how these processes work and gain practical experience in testing your underwater welding skills.
A lot of folks think underwater welding might seem dangerous, but we train you to manage the risks by safe practices. We teach you to use safety considerations of welding in straight polarity, the inclusion of a circuit interrupter, i.e. a knife switch, how the work lead is placed on the project, and the correct use of rubber insulated hand protection. All these factors make underwater welding safe and productive.

Course Program

Week 1

The week starts with powerpoints on safety, tools, and skills. You’ll learn in the shop about topside welding and burning, and on day 3 you have your first tank dive day, and start welding T joints in the water.

Week 2

Continue practicing underwater welding. You’ll rotate with the other students through the different positions including running the rack, tending, and diving. On day 3 you take an underwater weld test, and on day 4 you have the opportunity to retake the test if you need it.

Week 3

You’ll go to the dive station in Lake Union and have 4 days of underwater burning. You’ll dive every day, and rotate all the different positions with other students such as diving, tending, and rigging.

Week 4

Classroom and hands-on instruction in topside and underwater use of Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

Instructors Jim Bernacki and Melanie Lyman say the most challenging thing about the course is to keep focused, and not to give up because it’s hard.

“The skill itself is hard but the only way you are going to master it is to continue. If you give up you’re never going to do it.” Says Jim.

Josh (The instructor) adds, “Half the students think that topside welding is hard, and that underwater welding is easy, and the other half thinks it’s the other way, that underwater is hard and topside is easy. It’s always like that.” They agree that there are some pretty exciting parts of the course, such as when students make their first arc, whether it’s topside, or underwater. “For everybody, it’s always that first arc, so if you’ve never welded, either topside or in the water, that first arc is pretty exciting and memorable. And if you’ve got previous welding skills, that first arc underwater is pretty damn exciting.” says Jim.

Another amazing moment is when students burn their first plate. “…the first time they try to burn underwater and achieve a goal that we set for them, they usually come up grinning,” says their instructor.


Our NDT (Non-Destructive Testing) program explores an array of inspection methods that allow inspectors to collect and evaluate the properties of components and materials without causing damage. These skills can be applied both in and out of the water and allow the student to objectively analyze and evaluate the findings on an unbiased level of factual evidence.

The program starts in the classroom setting where students are introduced to scientific principles, operation, calibration, technique, and reporting styles of various NDT disciplines. This knowledge is carried to the onsite barges where students perform an array of topside and underwater inspections utilizing disciplines such as Ultrasonic Testing (UI), Magnetic Particle Testing (MPT) and Dye Penetrant Testing (DPT). For every inspection conducted, a full report is presented by the students to the lead NDT instructor to verify accuracy and inference.

“That first arc underwater is pretty damn exciting”

—DIT Instructor Jim Bernacki