Mike Hummel’s jobs might be typical for a commercial diver, but the equipment he works on certainly isn’t.
As a Diver’s Institute of Technology (DIT) graduate, Mike often works on Navy ships and submarines.
“I get to play on some pretty cool hardware everyday”, Mike says. “When you see on the news or read about ‘a new state of the art Navy vessel or design,’ chances are we’ve already been underneath it a couple times and have got to see it up close and personal.”
Making a Dream Come True: Hard Work & Patience
Working for Seaward Marine Services was a dream for Mike early on.
“When I was at DIT I was told, and I quote, ‘Seaward is one of the toughest places to get a job at because no one ever wants to quit.’ So I made it a goal to get a job there.”
He spent a year and half gaining experience with an inland company before inquiring with Seaward. During that time, he describes himself as a sponge: “I was… absorbing as much as I could at every given opportunity.”
When he finally applied at Seaward, he was given a temporary job and a year later was hired full-time.
“I went from a know-nothing tender to a respectable diver.”
The Best of Both Worlds
With Seaward, Mike gets the excitement and diversity of a diving career with the stability and routine of working with a company. And lots of experience.
In commercial diving, experience is gold.
“I am currently qualified in everything my employer has to offer as far as skills are concerned and hold over 5,000 career hours in the water. Mostly all of them were obtained at Seaward alone,” he says.
The jobs differ, but the routine is the same. Every day he goes into work, preps for the job ahead, and dives in.
“We usually spend around 4-6 hours a day in the water when it’s our dive rotation”, Mike explains. “One day it could be a 500 foot hose stretch under a ship for an inspection; the next day it could be in a concrete box at a power plant.”
Mike has been able to apply his experience in a lot of places. He’s traveled up and down the eastern seaboard, and even worked a job in Hawaii. Traveling, he says, has been the most exciting part of his career.
Another perk, Mike notes, is the holidays. “I didn’t know there were that many [holidays] in the year until I was hired on with this company.” And since they are eligible for the same holidays as the military, it’s a pretty good perk.
Reaping the Benefits of a Skilled Crew
Mike continues to experience the advantages of working for his dream company.
“One of my favorite parts of being at this company is the fact that on a daily basis I am surrounded by some of the best divers you will meet.”
The conditions and requirements have made him a better diver.
“A lot of times we can only see up to maybe four feet in front of us. Sometimes less than four inches,” he explains. “And I still have to give an accurate representation of our findings in an inspection.”
But not all inspection projects are equal.
Mike explains that some companies allow divers to provide rough estimates and reporting for the scope of work. “…the ball park figure would be fine,” he says.
However, government contracts require more precise data than other diving contracts. “We have to give exact locations 95% of the time with precise detail of findings”.
All the Dirty Details: Doing Inspections Right
On Mike’s most recent job, his team cleaned and inspected a US Navy destroyer ship. They inspected the ship using non-destructive testing (NDT) to evaluate the condition of the ship’s hull.
This method of inspection requires many special tools and is something not every diver is certified for. But, with a well equipped team, Mike and his co-workers were able to test the quality and durability of the ship without causing any damage.
Following their inspection, they presented the Navy with a detailed report.
For sailors, their ship is their weapon and safeguard. In the face of detrimental circumstances, the Military rely on men like Mike and his team to ensure the quality of their vessel, and ensure the safety of the men and women on them.
Where Divers Succeed: Follow through
Mike identifies a key to diving success is follow through. “Don’t give up,” he says. “If something intimidates you with diving, do it as often as you can until you own it.”
That’s been his career motto and it certainly has paid off.
The conditions aren’t perfect and the jobs aren’t easy, but Mike’s willingness to plunge in and get his hands dirty has made him shine.
Beth Smith, staff writer for Water Welders
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