Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Dual Submarine Break: Update


Since notice of the dual submarine cable break on Thursday, 16 January 2020, the SAIX Global Capacity team have been exploring options available amongst third party undersea cable consortiums in order to ascertain the availability of spare capacity.


SAIX have since concluded deals with several parties and are in the process of activating additional international connectivity capacity. This will certainly minimise some of the impact on their network, and ours, while we await repairs to the WACS and SAT3/WASC cable systems.


Furthermore, we have been advised that both cable consortia have tasked their respective restoration processes to a single Chief of Mission aboard the Leon Thevinin. The Leon Thevinin is a fit-for-purpose undersea cable deployment and maintenance vessel that is staffed with highly skilled technical personnel suitable for the most efficient restoration of both cable systems.


Strong and gale force winds in the City of Cape Town last week and over the weekend has delayed the operations of the cable ship. The Harbour Master has however granted the requisite authority yesterday for the cable ship to mobilise once the weather became stable enough.


The vessel was moved from the jetty where it was stationed yesterday afternoon to the docking area where loading of supplies for the repair mission has commenced. Stocking the cable ship with the materials required for the restoration is in itself a complex task and this will take several days to complete. For example, an excess of 156 km of submarine-rated optic fibre is required for the repairs and this can only be loaded onto the vessel at a rate of 5km of cable per hour. We have had confirmation that this process is running optimally at the moment with repeaters, all test gear and about half the jointing kits already loaded as of this morning.


Once the loading is concluded the vessel will depart to the break location to undertake the repair. Given the distance and notwithstanding the dependence on favourable weather conditions, it is anticipated that the Leon Thevinin will arrive at the location in about 6 days. The expectation is that the SAT3/WASC cable will be worked on first as it was the first of the consortiums to hand over the repair operation to the ships Chief of Mission and crew.


SAIX assured us that they will maintain a constant interface with the consortiums and their OEM partners until both cable systems are up and running again. They have made their resources available to both consortiums to assist wherever possible.


Your patience is immensely appreciated as undersea cable infrastructure repair is complex and this restoration undertaking will take some time.

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