While filling the role of functional manager for a major US shipbuilder, a had a particularly irksome dispute with a welding inspector. One of many actually. We will call this inspector Bob.
While managing the installation of several tons of steel deck on an anonymous US Navy nuclear aircraft carrier named after a US senator, in an obvious snub to both Presidents Johnson and Nixon, a welding inspector was explaining to me that a particular group of welds should be welded on both sides. This presented quite a problem for a couple of reasons. The first being, we were well into the install and meeting this (errant) interpretation of the drawing involved a lot of rework, cost and schedule loss. The second being, in order to execute this requirement, I would have to leave one of my welders under the deckplates…forever.
I explained to her, errr, I mean Bob, that welding both sides of these deckplates was not feasible and that his interpretation was wrong. Bob supported his assertion with the fact that he used to be a welder (which means to me he was a failure) and his position as an inspector made the probability that he was incorrect somewhere around six standard deviations. He further attested to the likelihood of my ignorance being tied to lacking the credentials of an inspector. I sought to use simple logic to belay his concerns. I opened the military weld code book that governed the contract and read from it. After all, I figured, no matter who is wrong here, the code must be correct. Problem solved right? Hah! Read on.
The code contained a paragraph or two that explained that the military didn’t choose to reinvent the entire wheel when it wrote the code. Instead it used one of the industry standards, AWS 2.4 and AWS 3.0, to define welding symbols and definitions respectively. Mind you, I read the document verbatim. I then demonstrated that the industry references supported my position. The retort was “We don’t go by what AWS says. We go by the military welding code”. After a long restrained and thoughtful pause, I asked Bob if she (darn it, did it again) failed to understand the guidance and deference provided by the very code he quoted. Truth aside, Bob stood fast on his unflappable manifestation of hubris. Needless to say we had to escalate the matter.
Bob’s boss, The Level 3 radiography NDT inspector, was (yep you guessed it) as clueless as he. Lacking the technical depth to make an independent decision, and due to my refusal to relent. We further escalated the issue. The QA manager, who would have the final say, not only lacked the relevant experience to make a sound decision, but also lacked the talent of critical thinking skills. Feeling the pressure (who is the boss here?) to support his group of inspectors, he agreed with Bob and inspector X-ray. Lacking the support of my boss, or perhaps understanding that asking for his support would be useless, I relented the dispute. I resolved to kill one of my welders and meet this ridiculous requirement. When all of these welds were finished and given a thorough preliminary inspection by the welding supervisors, I called the welding inspectors. I explained to them that the deckplates were ready for their inspection and they were indeed, welded on both sides. I also wished them well on their requirement to inspect the bottom of tons of steel deckplate welded fast to T-beams that completely eliminated access to the side in question.
Ephron the welder
Photo by Russ Ward on Unsplash
(no name – but suggested “sparks”)
The photos from the public domain / public license have been provided by the author of the text, Ephron the welder
Self-portrait picture provided by the author of the text, Ephron the welder .
Copyright © 2018 Future of the ocean - All Rights Reserved.