Where in the World Are Those Pesky Cable Ships?

By Rebecca Spence
May 18, 2020

The last two months have certainly been a roller coaster of change around the globe and the submarine telecoms community has not been immune. With the need to maintain and repair cables still an ongoing necessity, some vessels have been able to continue working, but many others have shut down operation, choosing to return to port to ride out the Coronavirus storm.

When the data set for the first edition of Where in the World Are Those Pesky Cable Ships was pulled in late February, work was chugging along, business as usual. Less than two weeks later, the number of vessels still in transit had dropped significantly. Figure 1 is the breakdown of vessels in transit in February, with Figure 2 showing a significant 71% drop in traffic from February through April.

Figure 1: Arrived at Destination – May 2020

While the pandemic has surely had a role to play in the volume of vessels that are no longer active, it is important to note that Figure 4 indicates nearly 50% of the vessels tracked were intended to reach their destinations by the beginning of March based on their estimated arrival dates. The actual number of vessels that returned in that short time rose when regulations and restrictions were put in place by various governments around the word. This immediate need to return to safety, created a logistical night- mare for the resource and project managers who were tasked with getting their employees onto flights home as countries were shutting down their borders to travelers.

Figure 2: Arrive at Destination Comparison

Currently 10 vessels remain in transit represented in Figure 4. Half are expected to reach their destination in the coming week, leaving only 5 vessels actively working to complete their assignments  over the next several months. As the pandemic continues to wane, the number of vessels back in transit will begin to increase significantly, though projects may have to shift their timelines to account for the weeks of inactivity.

To continue reading the rest of this article, please read it in Issue 112 of the SubTel Forum Magazine on page 14 or on our archive site here.