The Biggest Threat to Subsea Cables.

This article on subsea cable threats is consistently the most read UltraMAP article throughout 2018 and 2019 so we’ve updated it for March 2020.

Subsea cables carry data and energy keeping our world connected so why wouldn’t you protect them from damage that can mostly be prevented?

The subsea cables market is growing. As of 2019 there were approximately 378 subsea cables in service globally spanning over 1.2 million kilometres carrying power and transmitting data from continent to continent.

By the time we progress further into 2020 it’s estimated there will be around 2 million kilometers of subsea cables worldwide.

Subsea cable threats

Around 70% of all cable faults are caused by fishing and anchoring activities (man-made) and around 14% are caused by natural hazards (current abrasion or earthquakes).

The 70% caused by man-made activity is made up of…

Fishing activity from trawlers – Over a 3rd of all cable damage is caused by fishing activity. Trawling and fixed nets including stow nets cause damage. The East Asian region has high cable fault rates as stow nets are used intensively in the East China Sea. Their large anchors drag through the mud and damage cables. Pair trawling uses a net towed between two vessels which can snag cables resting on the seabed causing damage.

Damage from anchors – 25% of subsea cable damage arises from ship anchors. Large anchors of fishing vessels and merchant vessels cause cable damage. Anchoring outside designated areas causes damage. Dragging anchors in error during passage causes damage (recent fault records show that merchant ships sometimes do not fasten their anchors securely during short passages and these can cause cable damage).

Why proactively protect cables?

The obvious reasons to protect subsea cables are to:

  • Prevent damage from occurring in the first place which causes downtime whilst a cable is being repaired.
  • Avoid substantial repair bills that can run into millions.
  • Protect the uptime of customers services such as internet, telephone and electricity etc.
  • Potentially lower insurance costs.

How to protect cables

Most companies only react when cables are damaged in the first place. Only then do they implement some form of cable monitoring and protection to prevent future incidents.

Man-made damage can be prevented by placing protection zones around cables that alert cable owners when a vessel is getting too close to their assets.

Benefits of using AssetMonitor from UltraMAP to protect subsea cables

The AssetMonitor service from UltraMAP can protect subsea cables from fishing and anchor damage saving clients millions in repair costs, loss of service and potential insurance costs.

  • AssetMonitor protects subsea cables and prevents damage that would be expensive to repair.
  • AssetMonitor gives peace of mind to customers and their customers.
  • Using AssetMonitor has the potential to lower your insurance premiums.

For more information about AssetMonitor and how we can help protect your subsea cables, please contact UltraMAP today.

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