What does a shipyard welder fabricator do

05 Jul 2023

What does a shipyard welder fabricator do

The first part of a sea-going vessel that anyone tends to notice is the hull and outer structure. It is
designed by marine engineers but assembled by welder fabricators. These incredible tradespeople
use a variety of techniques for joining metals to create structures so let’s look at how they learn this
trade and the day-to-day life of a welder fabricator in the UK’s shipyards.

Qualifications required.

There are different routes that a welder fabricator might go down to get qualified such as an
intermediate apprenticeship, which requires some GCSEs including maths and English. For an
advanced apprenticeship, they need five GCSEs, including English and Maths. Producing smooth hull
surfaces, hull resistance and power needs exceptional welding technology making this trade a
fundamental role in the shipbuilding industry and an in-demand candidate.

As welder fabricators essentially make materials for repairing and building ships, they can work for
private companies as well as be engaged by Naval Shipyards. The private work can mean assembling
maintaining, building, and repairing smaller boats such as tugboats and towboats on top of container
ships, ocean liners and icebreakers.

Here are some of the other skills and experience they may also need for shipbuilding:


  • Marine experience
  • Able to read drawings.
  • Communicate with customers
  • MIG weld/Arc Weld qualifications
  • Hold a full UK clean driving licence.
  • Work well on-site work and in factories


Daily tasks for a shipyard welder fabricator

There are a variety of tasks that a welder fabricator might be involved in daily in a shipyard. Ensuring
safety protocols are followed and equipment is maintained is as important as the work itself. Here
are some of their other tasks:


  • Checking materials and ensuring all are acceptable.
  • Organising and cleaning workspaces
  • Maintaining equipment and machinery
  • Interpreting plans
  • Ship component construction
  • Using cutting tools and torches
  • Updating welding task log


Following blueprints to ensure the structure of a ship is put together safely and can withstand ocean
pressure clearly makes this trade exceptionally important.

Techniques and materials used.

The shipbuilding industry tends to frequently use steel to construct vessels due to its properties and
the structural integrity it affords in addition to its low cost. Panels and units are all made by
following plans and dimensions. There is a distinct difference between a welder and a welder
fabricator. One distinction is that welders use heat to get their work done whereas the fabricator
may utilise cold, rolling, or dry techniques to bend and shape metal. The structural integrity of the
ship is clearly immensely important. Whilst marine engineers and designers will conceive a vessel,
the fabricators have an incredibly important part to play in bringing a vessel to life, and ensuring it is
seaworthy and strong.

SLR has spent years in the marine sector building strong relationships with shipyards across the UK
such as Cammell Laird, Belfast and Glasgow. We understand the nature of shipbuilding and our
welder fabricators need a decent flow of work lined up that pays well and opportunities ready for
them when that contract ends.

If you are a qualified welder fabricator, speak to our team today!