Hythe Marine Services are dedicated to providing quality welding services on a local and national level. To find out more about the people and processes behind these services, we spoke to Hythe Marine Services’ (HMS) Senior Weld Inspector Paul Stone.
When asked to describe his role Paul commented: “As well as developing weld processes and training our welders through Lloyds procedures, I’m here to control welding within Hythe Marine Services, kind of like the welding police – I’m on-site to inspect jobs and make sure things are done as they should be.”
Essentially, Paul is the Head of Welding at HMS. Within this role, he is responsible for weld quality assurance throughout the company.
Paul told us, “The quality side of welding is my background. Knowing about processes, developing procedures and testing welder qualifications. That’s my sort of expertise and that’s what I bring to Hythe.”
Hythe Group’s managing director, Josh Mathias, added, “Hythe Group has strong values around developing our workforce, and Paul brings an essential capability to the business for in-house development around welding.”
Paul described himself as a “Time-served welder by trade”. He’s been a Senior Welding Inspector since achieving certification 3 years ago but has been a Certified Welding Inspector since 2004. Paul was actually the first weld inspector in the Naval Base when he was working for BAE Systems.
Throughout his career, Paul has always been based in the naval base, whether it’s with BAE Systems or HMS. His experience with BAE Systems gives Paul added knowledge about their requirements on jobs. Another bonus is Paul’s close working relationship with their team, including some of Paul’s old apprentices.
Paul started out as an apprentice from 1986 to 1990, before becoming a welder and, over the years, moving across various welding coordination duties. He then became a registered welding inspector allowing him to run and monitor the welding services at BAE. Paul then moved on to HMS and has been there for 13 years.
Paul reflected, “There’s been a lot of changes over the years, and all for the better. Hythe is a good place to be, with all sorts of characters, disciplines and trades going on.”
When speaking to Paul it was clear that he is highly passionate about the welding side of things. His history with Hythe Group gives him a unique perspective, as he can compare the company now with 12-13 years ago and see how far things have progressed.
Paul said, “We’re at a different level now. I consider ourselves to be the pride of the South Coast in marine repair with all we’ve got in place. We get repeat work from customers like BAE Systems because of the quality of work we do and the timescales we do it in.”
Being a welding inspector relies on having excellent welding knowledge and experience.
A Senior Weld Inspector must be capable of understanding procedures, written guidelines and hold all-round knowledge on weld quality assurance. They also need to have integrity and be able to argue against people that are saying ‘just get on and do it’, and give the reasons why.
When Paul first joined HMS he was still carrying out welding services as part of the small team. He had some great opportunities and even worked on Royal Naval aircraft carriers such as HMS Invincible, Ark Royal and Illustrious.
Paul also went out to New York to represent HMS and has sailed on cruise ships around the world. “I’ve been over to America and sailed back on Queen Mary 2, I’ve sailed out on a vessel to the Baltics around Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Russia and Estonia. My favourite times with Hythe Group were when we’ve been sailing and working away.”
As a Senior Weld Inspector Paul’s job is now mostly at the Naval base. Paul no longer embarks on long-haul projects abroad, but instead focuses his efforts on getting things right and making a name for HMS in the marine industry.
Our article Lloyd’s Coded Welders: Why We’re Different… explains the processes of weld testing, including destructive and non-destructive testing, at HMS.
Paul explained, “The best part of my job is the satisfaction of getting things right and making a name for ourselves. That’s what gets me. It’s not the money, it’s the fact that I get a kick out of knowing we’re doing things right, as we should be. Customers come back to us time and time again. That’s what really gives me a buzz.”
Safety is a massive consideration for not just HMS, but anyone working in the construction trade and marine environments.
To ensure the safety of HMS welders, all HMS welding operatives must have air-fed welding shades with filters on them, they must have fume extraction and full PPE – including wearing fire retardant overalls, safety boots and suitable gloves.
Paul also explained, “For all the tasks we do at HMS, the welders have risk assessments and statements which are issued out by Team Managers. There are also additional considerations like fire essentials, and when working onboard warships there must never be only one person, and our team complete Confined Space training too.”
In a recent move by HMS to increase weld quality assurance, the company are putting all their welders, welding apprentices and anyone who’s doing welding for the company through a Visual Weld Inspector course. Read more about this project in our recent News article: Hythe Marine Services Welders Achieve Certified Visual Weld Inspector Status.
Paul said, “I’m moving now more into the technical side of the company rather than the welding side of things. From my point of view, it’s not just knowing about the welding, it’s the knowledge of materials, weldability factors, how materials react when you’re welding them and different processes. It’s not just a weld inspection thing, and if we do have any welding problems it’s knowing how to get past those issues.”
To find out more about Hythe Marine Services’ commercial and local welding services, get in touch with our team below.