Cook Islands International Submarine Cable Connection Arrives in Rarotonga
Cable comes ashore at second attempt in complex engineering operation following Tropical Cyclone Sarai
Manatua One Polynesia fibreoptic cable will connect Rarotonga to Samoa, Tahiti and Aitutaki
The 3600km cable will be Ready for Service May 2020
The cable will provide world class international connectivity to Rarotonga and Aitutaki when it goes live in May 2020 with a capacity of up to 10Tbps (10,000,000Mbps). It will connect Apia in Samoa, Tahiti and Bora Bora in French Polynesia, Niue and, Rarotonga and Aitutaki in the Cook Islands. Manatua will be the first submarine cable to connect the Cook Islands and also the first in Niue. The last two remaining Manatua landings will be undertaken in Tahiti and Bora Bora in French Polynesia and will be completed in January 2020. The cable was landed on Aitutaki on 14 December 2019.
The landing followed Tropical Cyclone Sarai which had created immensely difficult sea conditions over the last week requiring deep sea cable laying operations to be temporarily suspended. The meticulously planned landing operation combined over 100 engineers and support staff from SubCom, Optic Marine Group and Avaroa Cable Ltd. Despite this, the initial attempt to land the cable the previous day was aborted due to dangerous surf and sea swells. Improved conditions on the second day allowed the team to negotiate the notorious currents of the Rutaki reef passage with the assistance of divers and cable specialists, placing the cable exactly in accordance with engineering plans. Cook Islands National Environmental Service were on hand to monitor the operation.
The cable will now be connected through to the Rarotonga International Cable Landing Station being constructed by Avaroa Cable Ltd at Aroa.
Separately, cable laying vessel SubCom Reliance will continue to deploy the Manatua cable, stored in her vast onboard tanks, back to join up with the main cable, which is currently waiting around 50km off Rarotonga, and onwards to French Polynesia.
The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown led celebrations to mark the event and paid particular tribute to the support of the New Zealand Government and the Asian Development Bank, the Aronga Mana and Landowners.
Cooks Islands Deputy Prime Minster Mark Brown said: “This is a truly exiting day. We stand at the dawn of a new era of telecommunications for the Cook Islands. This cable is critical to so many aspects of our future plans, from education to innovation, health to prosperity, and things not yet even invented for the benefit of our people. The list is unending. I am so proud of the work that has been led by Avaroa Cable Ltd and very much look forward to the cable going live later this year. And I also pay tribute to the unwavering support of ADB and the New Zealand government, the Aronga Mana and Landowners.”
Dr Ranulf Scarbrough, ACL CEO and Vice Chair of the Manatua Cable Consortium said: “Today’s engineering operation has been one of the most demanding we have seen. Extreme sea conditions following last week’s Tropical Cyclone Sarai, along with the surf and strong currents of Rutaki passage, have combined to make this probably the most technically complex of the Manatua landings so far. The teams have worked incredibly well together and the outcome has been excellent. There is more work to do but we now have one of the most challenging aspects safely behind us.”