Bad weather delays ship assigned to fix to Wacs, Sat-3 cable breaks

Extreme weather has delayed the departure of a ship from Cape Town, whose crew has been tasked with fixing two subsea cable breaks that are negatively affecting international connectivity in South Africa.

Gale-force winds in Cape Town last week and over the weekend delayed the operations of the Leon Thevenin cable ship. However, the Harbour Master on Monday finally granted the authority to proceed with the repair effort.

According to Telkom wholesale division Openserve, which is one of the companies affected by the cable breaks, the vessel was moved from the jetty where it was stationed on Monday afternoon to the docking area where loading of supplies for the repair mission commenced at 5.45pm.

“We have had confirmation this morning, from the chief of mission aboard the vessel, that this process is running optimally at the moment, with submarine-rated optic-fibre cable, repeaters, all test gear and jointing kits being loaded,” Openserve said.

Once the loading is concluded, the vessel will depart to the break locations to undertake the repair.

“The chief of mission anticipates that all loading will be completed by the evening of Wednesday, 22 January, should all go according to plan. A travel plan with detailed departure and arrival times will only be provided once loading is completed.”

Single chief of mission

The Atlantic Ocean cable breaks, which have affected both the Wacs and Sat-3/Wasc cables that connect South Africa and other African countries along of the western side of the continent, occurred in the early hours of Thursday, 16 January, resulting in slow Internet connections for South African users. They have also reportedly impacted voice telephony, including mobile roaming services.

“Openserve has been advised that both cable consortia have tasked their respective restoration processes to a single chief of mission aboard the Leon Thevenin. The Leon Thevenin 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,” Openserve said.

“Actual restoration timelines can only be provided once the ship arrives at the break site and the crew has had time to assess the extent of the damage. The expectation is that the Sat-3/Wasc cable will be worked on first as it was the first of the consortia to hand over the repair operation to the ships chief of mission and crew.”  — (c) 2020 NewsCentral Media