Interview with Tony Wells, author of “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea”

Tony Wells has gone from being the son of a broken family to one who has overcome many challenges until he was able to become the only African American deep sea commercial diver working in the demanding offshore oil fields of Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa. in the 1980s and 1990s. Along the way, he not only became an excellent deep-sea driver, he learned about humanity. “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea” is his autobiography, and today he is here to tell us more about his incredible journey.

Tyler: Welcome Tony. I’m glad you could join me today. I understand that the big change in your life began when your family moved to Hawaii when you were fourteen. Could you tell us a little about what your life was like before that move?

Tony: Before I moved to Hawaii, I was content with the laid back lifestyle of a country boy where we spent most of our time fishing and hunting after school and during vacations. For me there was no better way for a child to grow up during that time.

Tyler: What was it about moving to Hawaii that changed the direction of your future life?

Tony: Well, in Hawaii you’re on an island surrounded by the deep blue ocean, so it seemed natural that I was drawn to it through diving and surfing. Since I’ve always been the adventurous type, it was easy for me to go from exploring on land to exploring underwater. All of this came naturally to me.

Tyler: Did you start diving naturally?

Tony: Scuba diving was my means of exploring and breathing underwater, so I took to it like a fish!

Tyler: What did you find so nice?

Tony: It was like another world for me. A silent world that had unimaginable limitations and emotions and that needed a lot to explore.

Tyler: A lot of people go diving. Why did you decide to turn it into a deep sea diving career?

Tony: Actually, when I was diving in Hawaii, I never imagined that one day I would become a commercial deep sea diver working in the demanding offshore oil fields overseas. Diving is a totally different world than commercial diving. When you’re diving, you’re just having fun and having a good time, but when you’re working as a commercial diver, it’s not fun anymore because you’re actually working and most of the time. time you are under stress and pressure from above (the ‘superior’ staff) to come down and do a specific job. You have no time to enjoy at all.

Tyler: What made you decide to become a deep sea diver? Have you ever dreamed of being something else?

Tony: When I was young we lived in Indianapolis, Indiana, and the Indy 500 race track was a half mile from my house, so we could hear when the cars practiced there. After my uncles brought me there to watch practices and races, I knew my destiny in life was to become a professional race car driver. Several years later, when my mom remarried into the military, we moved to Hawaii and I made friends with some guys who raced the dirt oval tracks and helped them work on their cars, so I still planned on becoming racing driver one day. However, after I graduated from high school, my family moved from Hawaii to California and I started going to college part time and working full time. After a few years of doing this, I realized that I was bored and wanted to travel and do something more exciting for my job, so I decided to enroll in the professional commercial diving course at Commercial Diving Center in Wilmington, CA.

Tyler: Deep sea diving has had its dangerous side for you at times. Will you tell us a bit about those dangers and why, despite the dangers, you still thought it was worth it?

Tony: Well, it’s like any other profession, I guess. It has its dangers, but once you’re working underwater, you just don’t have time to think about all the things that could go wrong. The moment you start thinking about all that is the moment you shouldn’t be a commercial diver anymore.

Tyler: I take it you were a diver for a lot of oil companies?

Tony: Yeah, most of us were ‘freelancers’ meaning we worked for whatever dive company had a job or if there were multiple jobs going on at the same time then we worked for the company that paid the most.

Tyler: What exactly was the purpose of your job and how did you deal with the stress of demanding oil companies?

Tony: We did all the things that people do while working surface jobs. The only difference was that we were doing them underwater. We mainly did support type work in oilfields, which involved working on oil rigs, pipe laying barges, crane barges, drilling barges, and off large vessels, etc. The stress of demanding oil companies was just another part of our job. For the guys who weren’t up to spec or just couldn’t take it, then they would either have been kicked out (fired) or just quit that profession.

Tyler: You’ve also been on treasure hunts. Tell us about those?

Tony: My most notable treasure hunt was when we were looking for the 500 year old Portuguese ship called “Flor do Mar”, off the coast of North Sumatra. That was really exciting and lasted almost two years. On another occasion, the government of Pakistan hired me to find sunken gold from a smuggler off the coast of Pakistan and that was also quite interesting.

Tyler: How did you go from working for oil companies to hunting for treasure?

Tony: My roommate in Singapore knew some guys who were putting together a team to search for a 500-year-old Portuguese ship that sank off the coast of North Sumatra, Indonesia, so he invited me to join them. At that time he was more than happy to do something different and exciting in addition to the usual oilfield work he had been doing for the past few years.

Tyler: I understand you were once illegally detained by a foreign government. Can you tell us a little about that event?

Tony: Well, that was basically a case of us being in the wrong place at the wrong time, plus some corruption and greed that made up for a combination that nobody wanted to get caught up in at the time. That was on a small island in Indonesia where almost anything goes if the circumstances are against you as it was in our case.

Tyler: What kind of work were you doing at the time and why did the Indonesian government bother?

Tony: I did some good research on an English shipwreck that had sunk off a small island in 1789 that had lost ten chests of gold and silver coins, so me and a good friend of mine wanted to go and have an overview of the area. . to see if the project was viable or not. Unfortunately, a few days earlier there were other guys in that general area who were using explosives to salvage a steel wreck, so when the Indonesian police saw us in that area, they assumed we were the ones who had been salvaging the steel wreckage. . So they took us in and detained us for questioning, but even when they realized it wasn’t us, they started seeing dollar signs as a requirement for us to be released.

Tyler: Tony, how do you see your life? Do your stories sound like the adventures in the movies? Did you ever wish for a quiet life instead?

Tony: I see my life of commercial diving as quite an adventure and when I look back now I can honestly say I’m glad I lived it. I am also glad that I survived some of the many close calls I experienced on various occasions. Now that I am older I like the quiet life, but in those days I enjoyed the excitement, explorations and adventures I went through. Yes, in fact, I think my book would make a great movie too! Ha ha.

Tyler: Tony, what made you decide to write “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea”?

Tony: Many years ago I realized that it is very easy to forget things that I had done the week before, or even the day before sometimes, so for the last twenty years or more I have been keeping a journal because I like to remember everything. what has happened. to me in my life. Not that all along I was planning to write my life story, but when I started to reminisce and reread about those wild and exciting adventures I had been through, I decided that maybe I should write my memoirs. I knew that if someone loves thrills, adventures, and humor, they should love reading my book.

Tyler: Why did you choose to stand out as a black male in the title?

Tony: I’m a black American, so when it came to choosing the title of my book, it was very easy for me. I wanted it to be self explanatory (Black Man) and also sound exciting enough to grab the reader’s attention (Under the Deep Blue Sea). I hope I have succeeded.

Tyler: Your book also talks about the things you’ve learned about life and people. What would you say is the “message” of “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea”?

Tony: Basically, what I have experienced during all my travels is that most people of different races around the world just want to be healthy, happy, and have love in their lives. My message is that no matter what race or gender you are, don’t let ignorance or jealous people bring you down or tell you what you ‘can’ and ‘can’t’ do in life. Anything is possible, so if you want to do something, just go out there and do your best and do it. If my book can inspire just one person in this world, I would be very satisfied and happy to have written it.

Tyler: Tony, do you have any plans to write any more books?

Tony: “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea” is actually my second book in print. My first book is titled “Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasures in Southeast Asia” and it came about as a result of the research I got during our search for the 500-year-old Portuguese ship, “Flor do Mar”. After that, I wrote an e-book titled “Cannon Journal-A Compilation of Information on Asian and European Type Bronze Cannons (1500-1800)”. If you are a fan of bronze cannons, you will definitely love this book. Anyway, the answer to your question is a resounding YES.

Tyler: Since you’re no longer a deep sea diver, how do you fill your time now?

Tony: Right now I’m working full time for a company in St. Petersburg, Florida that makes the world’s only real-time 3D underwater sonar. That keeps me pretty busy. I am also selling my motorcycle gear shifter cushion online and planning more marketing so I can increase sales so I can do it full time one of these days.

Tyler: Thanks for joining me today, Tony. Before we go, will you tell our readers the address of your website and what additional information they can find about your book there?

Tony: It’s my pleasure, Tyler. My website is and there I have more information about my story, some photos of my family and also some tips for future writers and inventors. I’m a part-time inventor, so there’s a link to my motorcycle shifter cushion invention, Shiftcush. There is also a link to my brass cannons website. Enjoy!

Tyler: Thank you Tony. I wish you many more adventures.

Today, Reader Views Associate Editor Tyler R. Tichelaar is excited to be joined by Tony Wells, who is here to talk about his new book “Black Man Under the Deep Blue Sea: Memoirs of a Black Commercial Diver in Southeast Asia.” “. PublishAmerica (2007), ISBN 9781424174225.

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