Forging the Seas: The Role of Welding in Ship Construction



Forging the Seas: The Role of Welding in Ship Construction


Welding is one of the most critical processes in the construction of ships. In fact, it’s said that even a minor welding error or inconsistent weld can have devastating consequences for the structural integrity of a ship.

It’s no wonder then that to maintain a certain level of excellence, the maritime industry employs the world’s most skilled welders and the highest quality of welding supplies. 

But what exactly is the role of welding in ship construction? Let’s take a closer look. 

The Role of Welding in Ship Building

The most important task of a welder is to ensure the structural integrity of the vessel. 

Welding is commonly used to create a ship’s hull, for instance. To craft this hull, a welder must accurately shape several tons of metal while ensuring that the welds are resistant to exterior forces.

Beyond that, welding is also used to build several other parts of the vessel, including decks, bulkheads, and compartments. In fact, it is estimated that welding accounts for 3%-5% of a ship’s total weight.

To ensure that a vessel is both strong and stable, the welds must meet specific safety standards and industry regulations, making it an exceptionally challenging task.

The Role of a Welder in Ship Building 

Ships are constantly exposed to harsh weather, heavy winds, and storms. Despite this, one of the biggest threats to a weld is saltwater. 

An important challenge for welders is thus to make sure that all the materials used in the ship’s construction are watertight and corrosion-resistant. 

To counter corrosion, welders must work with very specific alloys. They must also create barriers that protect critical components from exposure to seawater by creating consistently clean welds. Furthermore, a welder is also tasked with making regular maintenance schedules to promote a ship’s longevity and durability.

Beyond this, welders also work on various systems on the interior of a ship. They are, for instance, tasked with creating a network of piping and plumbing systems, as well as ensuring electrical power distribution and ventilation.

Once again, accuracy and skill are imperative to prevent major malfunctions, system failures, or, in the worst case, leaks.

Common Techniques Employed in Ship Construction

Given the range of processes that go into building a ship, welders can employ any number of techniques to achieve consistent welds. 

One of the most common is an arc welding technique known as submerged arc welding. This process is preferred as it is fast, easily automated, and a cost-effective way to weld together thick materials.

That said, gas welding techniques like MIG and TIG are also often used, especially when dealing with more lightweight materials. Specialized processes such as plasma, friction stir, or laser beam welding are also increasingly employed in shipyards. 

Forging the Seas with nexAir 

Despite its challenges, welding is one of the most widely used processes in shipbuilding for a couple of reasons — it is more affordable and requires less maintenance when compared to other techniques like riveting. 

No one understands these benefits better than nexAir. Since the 1940s, we have helped key industries across the Southeast Forge Forward with the best welding tools at their disposal. But beyond that, we’ve also contributed our expertise and KnowHow to ensure that welders make the most of these high-quality supplies.


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