About Nial Benjamin
The jack-of-all-trades (not really).
Master-in-none (quiet literally).
Nial Benjamin is a deep sea diver by profession, an artist at heart, a musician by mistake and a motorcyclist by choice.
An adventurist who believes success is not defined by how much money you earn, how big your house is or how fast your car is; It’s defined by how happy your heart is with where you’re in life.
Life started off with humble beginnings in a small apartment in Pune, India. I was raised with unconditional love, compassion and care by two very loving parents and an elder sister. A “complete family” as my mother calls it.
My student life was spent mischievously at St. Vincent’s high school. College was completed externally in the field of science while I pursued my career in deep sea diving.
Ever since the completion of my diving course in 2012, I have been working as a full fledged commercial diver in the oil and gas industry working with various companies throughout the middle east, Europe, Southeast Asia and Asia.
Here are a few of my tiny achievements over the past few years. I’d count them as the highlights of my life so far.
LONGEST MOTORCYCLE RIDE (KMS)
LONGEST TIME SPENT UNDERWATER (HOURS)
Deepest dive (feet)
Companies worked for
The very first thing that intrigued me about commercial diving was the job itself. Hearing about people welding under water seemed oxymoronic and too crazy to be true. Working at the bottom of the ocean (and sometimes mid-water), with various power tools such as impact guns and jackhammers sounded awesome!
The love for my job started as a child right from when I touched the water at our local swimming pool.
Pune is a landlocked city away from any sea or ocean. More known for its hills, mountains and greenery; there couldn’t have been any other way for me to love the water.
Growing up in Pune, life was always about being good at academics and scoring good marks. Every parent at the time wanted their kid to be a doctor, engineer, a lawyer or something in the mainstream.
But my dad chose to be different. He introduced me to the concept of Commercial Diving and since then I wanted to be a Deep Sea Diver. There wasn’t anyone I knew who had even heard of such a career during those days in my city. There were hilarious moments when I’d introduced people to my career ambition and they’d be like, “Driver?! What do you want to drive?”
Right after my 10th I got into an ITI certified course in fabrication and welding, (because I’d need this technical knowledge later in life) while simultaneously accomplishing various certifications in SCUBA diving.
My first year out of high school, I moved to Goa to work with a local dive centre and complete my training as a scuba dive master. At the age of 18 that was the first time I had ever left my home and family to live on my own. Life was tough but worth it!
Living alone and fending for yourself teaches you so much more than school or any other institution can. You are your own teacher. You are your own student.
Soon after completing my Dive Master’s course, it was time to decide whether I wanted to continue in the recreational side of diving or move to its technical side. The choice was made and my dad applied for a loan to sponsor my education in one of the best schools (at the time) for commercial diving in the world —The Underwater Centre, Fort William, Scotland.
At the age of 20, life was now going to ask me to travel out of the country for the first time. My first international flight was from Mumbai, India to Heathrow, London. It was entirely spent in nervousness. I landed in London to be greeted by my aunt Lizzy and her son, my cousin, John.
I spent a week at their place in London while learning the subway and train routes for my onward journey to Scotland.
The train journey through the Scottish highlands, their mountain passes and their forests was like some scene straight out of a Harry Potter movie. I loved every bit of it. It was already dark by the time I reached my school accommodation, only to wake up the next day to see Scotland in all her glory. And oh my word! I don’t think I have witnessed such a spectacular scene ever before.
My room over looked this icy cold lake that had huge mountains in the background, there was green grass and little pink and yellow flowers growing on its banks, blue sky with scattered white fluffy clouds in the horizon. I thought I was in heaven. This place was going to be home for the next two and a half months.
My time in Scotland brought me in touch with a crazy batch of amazing people; all mixed up from various parts of the world. Me being the only Indian. Halfway through the course and I met two Indians who just arrived to do their Saturation (a more advanced type of diving) course. As I got to know more about them, one of them broke the news to me about never being able to get a job because recession had just struck the global market.
My dreams of becoming a commercial diver broke like sugar glass on concrete. He asked me if I knew any well known person in the offshore or commercial diving field to which I replied with a negative. He said to me that I was the biggest fool to have asked my dad for $17,000 USD (in 2011) to invest into something I had no contacts in. Thats when it occurred to me that this field is identical to Bollywood (or any other film industry for that matter). You either have to be the son of a big shot, know influential people or have deep pockets to pay your way in order to get that first break into the industry. I had none of the above.
A few tears later, this “friend” said that I would stand better chances of landing myself a job if I got my inspection ticket. That would cost me another $6,000 USD.
Before we could say goodbye to each other, my friend showed me pictures of his job as full fledged Commercial Diver. One of the pictures that stood out was of this diving vessel that his company just bought. A bright red, DP-2 vessel, with bright yellow funnels reaching the heavens and a massive helideck. They called her “The Providence”. “I wish I get an opportunity to work on such a great ship”, I said to myself while I looked awe struck at that gorgeous vessel on his laptop screen.
After my course in Scotland, I returned to India and delivered the news to my dad about it being close to impossible to get into the diving industry without contacts. My dad being the more hopeful one, trusted me and took another loan for the inspection course. I passed the course with flying colours in the first sitting without ever seeing an offshore/sub-sea structure in my life. But the dream of getting into the industry still had many more hurdles to pass.
Six long months of knocking on the doors of local diving companies, having my CV thrown into the dustbin in front of my eyes and asked to go back to the city I came from, had to happen before I met the chartered accountant —Mr. Francis D’souza. An elderly but very wise gentle man. He called me to meet with him at his office so that he could share a few contacts of people he knew working in the offshore field, with hope that it might be helpful.
I arrived at his office and was asked to be seated in front of him as he went through something that looked like a register.
Flipping through a few pages, he stopped at one moving his finger over a business card that was attached with it. I sat upright in order to get a view of what was coming. And there it was! The business card of someone who worked for one of the biggest diving companies in Dubai, all that I could see from that distance was the name of the company, ‘DULAM’. I knew this was going to be something worthwhile because I remembered my Indian friend mentioning that he worked for this company back in Dubai. Mr. Francis asks me to note down the details of the person mentioned on the card —Mr. Nigel Dixon.
My joys knew no bounds as I rushed home to email Mr. Dixon. I received a reply after a day from him asking me for my phone number and instructing me to get an offshore survival ticket in order to be recruited (there was another amount of money going to be spent) but this time things seemed very positive.
As I was returning to my city after my three day offshore survival training in Mumbai, I received a call from the Dulam office with news of vacancy for an upcoming job offshore. I immediately thanked Mr. Nigel and Mr. Francis for everything they did for me. It would have never been possible without them.
After a day or two, I received my contract letter from Dulam with details about the job and the vessel I’d be joining. I opened the email and there it read, Vessel: The Providence. My very first job, the very first vessel I’d ever work on was going to be the one I had always prayed and hoped to work on. A complete dream-come-true!
The year 2012, marked my first job as a commercial diver.
This entire journey and testimony taught me that good things come to those who wait, hope and pray.
I always wanted to be a deep sea diver and so I became one. That’s what I define success as. No matter what your goal is, YOU set a target, and YOU work towards achieving it. Your success will be inevitable. Success is not defined by how much money you earn, how big your house is or how fast your car is. It’s defined by how happy your heart is with where you are in life.
Success is not defined by how much money you earn, how big your house is or how fast your car is. It’s defined by how happy your heart is with where you are in life.