By Bob Tuomi

Big news for Victoria is that in June - Global Marine Systems, the owner of the two cable ships berthed at Ogden Point announced receipt of an extension of the North America Maintenance Zone contract for the next eight years. World-wide Global Marine services almost 400,000 kilometers of fibre optic telecom cable. On this coast the Cable Innovator will be responsible for the North Pacific segment. The Cable Innovator is presently being restocked to take over duties from the Wave Venture. 

The North American Zone covers most of the North Pacific with the harshest of weather conditions and most diverse and critical of cable installations. Customers demand that downtime for repair and replacement of faulty segments of cable must be minimized. Located in Victoria, with easy deep water access, the Cable Innovator will be up to the challenge. As well, the cable storage capacity at Ogden Point will be expanded.

Photos by Bob Tuomi


Wave Venture

Wave Venture is currently the dedicated vessel supporting the North American Zone (NAZ) cable maintenance agreement.

Vessel Builders Danyard Frederikshavn

Date built 1982

Converted to cable lay 1999

Length overall 141.50m

Gross tonnage 10076t

Maximum speed 12.5kts

Main engines 7

Bow thrusters 3

Stern thrusters 2

Berths 62

Cable Tanks Main cable tanks 3

Fuel capacity 724t

Cable Innovator

Vessel Builders Kvaerner Masa Shipyard, Finland

Date built 1995

Length overall 145.50m

Gross tonnage 14277t

Maximum speed 16.9kts

Main engines 5

Bow thruster 2

Stern thruster 2

Berths 80

Cable Tanks Main cable tanks 3

Fuel capacity 1662t MGO

Global Marine in establishing Victoria as their pacific base for North America are introducing themselves to Victoria by offering guided tours of their cable ships. Our host for our tour was Captain Simon Haynes. Simon whose background was Royal navy joined Global Marine when it was Cable & Wireless, as a deck cadet, and has worked on board all of the company's installation and maintenance vessels.

The tour began onboard the Innovator where Simon provided a brief history of undersea cable installation.

The first cable was laid in 1855 between England and France to carry telegraph signals. During the 1860’s a cable was laid from England to North America. The lessons learned then are still basically unchanged as telegraphy advanced to telephone analog advanced to digital.

During our tour cable was being transferred from the Wave to the Innovator and we went down to cable deck which runs the length of the ship and is similar to a car deck on a ferry. A powered bed of rollers was drawing the cable in from the Wave. When at sea and laying the cable on the seabed the motors to the rollers reverse to control the tension and speed of the cable being fed out of the stern.

Types and thicknesses of cable vary requiring repair ships to carry additional tanks.

Cable Innovator carries up to 7000 km of cable. As the optic signal weakens it is periodically amplified through the use of repeaters placed every 70 to 80 km.

Depending on the type of sea bed and depth of water two methods are used for laying cable. Surface laying is simply the laying out of the cable on the sea floor. When the cable being laid is in shallow seas or close to shore a plow is dragged to dig a furrow in which the cable is buried up to two and one-half metres deep.

The Cable Innovator is considered the best cable maintenance ships in the world. In its first five years in operation it was working every single day. She carries sufficient food, water, fuel and provisions for crews to remain at sea up to three months. Crew generally work eight weeks on and eight weeks off. Though the Cable Innovator has eighty single cabins the usual complement at sea is forty-five.