Ile de Brehat Cable Ship

On Wednesday at 3.00am, Kathy was woken up by a¬†humming made by a strange-looking ship. I have to say that this photo reminds me of the opening sequence from The Usual Suspects.I’m glad to say that there was no giant explosion but Kathy’s curiosity got the better of her and she got up again at 6.00am to find out what the ship was.

It’s Alcatel’s cable ship Ile de Batz, somewhat further up the river from where Alcatel’s submarine works¬†live on the peninusla. I don’t know what it’s doing on Greenwich Reach pier; Kathy’s not seen a cable ship there before. I guess it could be – well – laying cable.

Wanna know how they do it? Check this out. I particularly enjoyed the dramatic music.

Sorry – this post should have appeared yesterday; I had some technical problems.


the attachments to this post:

cable ship low
cable ship low

kathy cable 3 low
kathy cable 3 low

kathy cable 1 low
kathy cable 1 low


4 Comments to “Ile de Brehat Cable Ship”

  1. Rob says:

    Hi Phantom – the cable laying ship was in Greenwich as part of an open day at Alcatel to mark an award they’ve just received.

  2. Mary says:

    Yes – I’ve just added some bits to Rob’ site including details of web site where one of the journalists who was there yesterday has put his pictures.
    http://thefrontline.v3.co.uk/2010/08/onboard-a-fibre.html

    Time was when there were always several cable ships in this area of the Thames – and indeed one was preserved at Enderby Wharf into the 1980s. The vast majority of submarine telecommunications cable – world wide – and I mean almost all of it – was made between Greenwich and Northfleet up until the 1970s – and most of it was done on the Enderby site.

    The ship is here because Alcatel – on the Enderby site – have been awarded what I think is their 12th – Queens Award for Industry and they had a big fun day for all their staff and tours round the ship for staff and their families.
    The works at Enderby Wharf is enormously impressive and local people ought to be very proud – and rather better informed – about this works and its present (and past) record. Everytime you access the net, and every time you pick up web sites from round the world you should be remembering what they have achieved and contributed – and perhaps saying ‘thank you’.
    The boat was great too and I will try to scan some of the info we were given about her to put on marysdiary.blogspot.com

  3. It was there for 24 hours, and you’re right, it was a family open day because the mayor of Greenwich and the Lord Lieutenant of London were there to present Alcatel-Lucent (not just Alcatel any more) with a Queen’s Award for Industry.
    Families and dignitaries (and me, a journalist specialising in telecoms — http://www.globaltelecomsbusiness.com) were treated to a tour round the ship. If you’d like any pictures, Phantom, to put on your site let me know.
    The Greenwich factory makes the repeaters that amplify the signals on their way through the cable — they have to work on the power that’s sent through the cable, and continue to work for 25 years, as that’s the life expectancy of the cable). The cable itself is made in Calais, and is loaded up on Alcatel-Lucent’s ships there. Alcatel-Lucent is a French/US/international company with HQ in Paris.
    The Greenwich site is probably (though I haven’t checked) the oldest continuously operating factory in the telecoms industry in the world. Tom Standage’s great book The Victorian Internet gives a lot more about it (Tom is a Greenwich person too).

  4. Malcolm Lumb says:

    The Greenwich site was the Submarine Cables Ltd site and made the majority of the telegraph cable that was laid by Cable and Wireless Ltd and predecessors for the Company’s world wide telegraph system. This overall system was generally closed down when the new Telephone cables began to be laid in the 1960′s.
    They also made the insulated centre core which was sent to the C&W cable Depot in Singapore when it was made into cable. This was also closed down in the 1960′s. SCL made most of the Telephone cable COMPAC between Canada and New Zealand and Australia in 1962/3