Specialist hyperbaric welding trials completed at JFD’s National Hyperbaric Centre

JFD, world-leading submarine rescue and diving equipment company and part of James Fisher and Sons plc, recently facilitated a dry hyperbaric welding trial for Subsea 7 within its saturation diving complex in Aberdeen.

Ten diver welders were welcomed to JFD’s National Hyperbaric Centre in May and were accommodated for 13 days at a depth of 43msw within the saturation diving system in order to prove their welding techniques prior to fulfilling an offshore contract.

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JFD’s National Hyperbaric Centre houses the only land based saturation diving system in the UK. The 16-man saturation dive complex is the ideal choice for clients looking to simulate a realistic, controlled hyperbaric environment in order to pre-qualify their diver welders prior to an offshore project ensuring welding procedures are safe, compliant and efficient.

The centre has enabled a number of welding trials over the years and its unique facilities and specialist technicians have attracted customers from around the world – even as far as Australia!

The saturation system is capable of facilitating manned trials to 300msw and comprises two fully fitted 8-man living chambers which connect to a transfer chamber (TC). Wet or dry diving trials can be accommodated and in the case of a wet trial, the TC simulates a diving bell complete with moon pool which connects to the work chamber below.

The work chamber is fitted out prior to the weld by JFD’s experienced technicians who ensure the correct safety and monitoring equipment is in place. Working closely with the client they create a habitat environment as similar as possible to the one in which the divers will be working in offshore.

The dive follows exact offshore procedures with divers being monitored 24/7 by JFD life support supervisors and technicians as soon as they are under pressure. On shift within the work chamber, divers are monitored by Subsea 7 dive supervisors as they complete their welding procedures. Between shifts, the welded pipeline sections are removed from the work chamber through the entry lock of the TC and are taken away for inspection by a third party to ensure weld integrity in order to successfully qualify the diver welder.

Performing hyperbaric welding trials within a controlled environment is essential to ensure safety and efficiency during mobilisation, and to reduce downtime offshore which could be time consuming and costly for the client.

Martin Robb, head of delivery for Commercial services, said:

“This is the first hyperbaric weld we have performed in the last couple of years following the industry downturn and I am delighted with JFD’s performance. The dive system is continually maintained and audited and as such can be fully operational on short notice. JFD staff worked closely alongside the client to mobilise and fit out the work chamber for the weld trials and the project ran to schedule.

The chamber complex ran 24 hour operations efficiently and smoothly which is testament to our highly skilled and experienced staff and technicians who managed the project exceptionally well from start to finish, quickly and expertly responding to any requests that arose from either the divers or the client.

The facility also acts as a 24 hour diver emergency response centre and, as luck would have it, we received an emergency call to support a diving incident during the welding project. The team immediately responded and implemented the relevant JFD procedures for such an emergency. The emergency was successfully and efficiently handled and the welding trial operation remained unaffected. I am incredibly proud of the team’s professional and expert approach to the situation and their continuous efforts as a whole which ensure JFD maintains its position at the forefront of subsea safety.”