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Subsea Telecom News: Divers walking the ocean floor to check every inch of power cable

Posted on 29.08.2007 - 14:00 EDT in SUBSEA TELECOMS NEWS by Rons_ROV_Links

Divers for Maritime Electric are walking the ocean floor examining every inch of the power line cable connection between P.E.I. and the mainland. Kim Griffin, spokeswoman for Maritime Electric, said the inspection has been going on since mid-July and the crew's responsibility as they walk along the ocean floor is to take photographs and develop a consultant's report of those photos.

"We take a look at them and decide, long term, of the risk assessment in terms of if there are areas of the cable that are exposed and other areas where we need to do some long-term work on,'' Griffin said as the crew prepared to leave Summerside wharf for the cable site on Thursday morning.
She said they expect that report in the coming weeks. It will then be the basis for company decisions on when and where repairs are needed.

Griffin said to date Maritime Electric has been very pleased with the condition of the cable. The last inspection was 2001.

"The submarine cable is our lifeline between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick,'' she said. 

Maritime Electric technical specialist Paul Cyr holds a cable inspection detection device being used by divers to assess the condition of the submarine power cables between Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Kim Griffin displays a portion of the cable that is used to carry power between the two provinces. Guardian photo by Mike Carson.

Paul Cyr, technical specialist with Maritime Electric, said the divers will be in water depths ranging from 10 feet to 95 feet as they walk along inspecting the power cable.

He explained that the first diver goes down with a cable detection device and walks along the cable. A diver behind him holds an anchor with a line on it to a buoy on the surface.

Cyr said that diver also has a compass and a dive computer to tell them how much dive time the pair of them have on the bottom and then they just walk along the cable.

The project costs about $100,000 and Griffin said they expect to complete the inspection this week if the weather holds out.

The cable was installed in 1977 for about $40 million.

In 1997 there was a storm and a ship's anchor got caught in the cable and severed it.

"After that, there was an area of the cable that actually exposed,'' Griffin said. "We were able to assess the cable at that time and realized it was still in very good condition other than where it needed to be repaired. So 2001 was the last time we checked the cable since then and we plan to do so every five to six years. The (life) expectancy of the cable is 50 years so it's important for us to make sure that we are constantly checking it.''

Griffin said there are actually two cables measuring 25 kilometres each that connect P.E.I. with New Brunswick.

© 2007 Charlottetown, The Guardian
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