Where In The World Are Those Pesky Cable Ships? July 2021
By Rebecca Spence
July 23, 2021
What a difference a year makes!
Last summer, very few announcements were made regarding submarine cable projects, and the first half of this year we’ve seen an outpouring of project milestones in the industry. In the last two months alone, the Decisive laid the final portion of SPCS/Mistral, Southern Cross NEXT touched down at Takapuna Beach, and the installation of NO-UK began. But Covid-19 is still affecting the industry’s front-line workers and the companies they work for. For instance, the Ile de Re was forced to go to Malaysia instead of Singapore to receive its first cable load from the BBC Dolphin. A change that was not only costly but logistically difficult due to covid regulations and quarantine requirements varying per country.
Currently, the fleet has an average age of 27 years among the 47 vessels we track. With the number of cables that will start going out of service in the next several years, the current fleet will not be able to accommodate the number of projects needed to maintain the status quo. At present, most installers have booked their fleets through at least a few years out. As the demand for subsea links and capacity continues to increase, the need to replace the aging cable ship fleet becomes even more significant, and installers are paying attention.
Orange Marine, for one, has ordered a new vessel dubbed the C/S Sophie Germain. The vessel will ease the pressure on cable installation vessels as her primary role will be the repair of power and optical fiber cable. She will also be designed to reduce its environmental footprint with 20 percent lower CO2 and 80 percent nitrogen oxide emissions, something that is very new to the industry’s current fleet. Another big announcement in the last several weeks was from ASN, who will be converting two vessels for installation and repair of subsea cables. These additions are a huge step in the right direction for the future forward momentum of the industry. Though primarily power cable vessels, the addition of