Old subsea cable recovered for recycling

  • From the depths: the remaining part of a decommisioned subsea cable that connected Bermuda to a landing point at Tuckerton, New Jersey, has been recovered and will now be recycled in South Africa (File image)

    From the depths: the remaining part of a decommisioned subsea cable that connected Bermuda to a landing point at Tuckerton, New Jersey, has been recovered and will now be recycled in South Africa (File image)


A decommissioned subsea cable that once carried internet traffic to Bermuda, and was lying up to three miles below the surface of the ocean, has been recovered and will be recycled.

It took three weeks for the remaining submerged section of the Bermuda-US-1 cable and its repeater devices to be completely hauled to the surface by two specialist ships belonging to South Africa’s Mertech Marine.

The operation was carried out in May. The communications cable was installed in 1997 and was previously owned by international subsea services provider GlobeNet. It had landing points in St David’s, and in Tuckerton, New Jersey.

The cable was replaced in 2013 with a higher capacity cable along the same Bermuda-United States route as part of GlobeNet’s regional network that connects North and South America.

Mertech Marine purchased the remaining submerged section of the old cable, which weighs 650 tonnes, and has transported it to its factories in South Africa where it will be recycled.

Philippe Perrier, chief technology officer at GlobeNet, said: “We are proud to support this ‘green’ activity and contribute to protecting the marine environment.”

Mertech Marine’s ships will now continue to recover assets from the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean, Alwyn du Plessis, chief executive officer of the company, said.

He added: “Our plan is to keep all three of our vessels deployed and working to recover cables in the oceans around the world. Since the oceans are criss-crossed by cables dating back to telegraph cables installed in the 1860s, we believe that recovering those cables that can be safely recovered contributes positively to the industry by relieving congestion and also positively impacts the environment through the circular economy.”

The company recovers unused undersea telecommunication cables and then dismantles and recycles the raw materials in its factories. It has recovered and recycled more than 28,000 miles of cable and 1,100 subsea repeaters.

It ensures its operations are environmentally friendly, to reduce the levels of carbon that would have been released into the atmosphere if the recovered and recycled materials had been created anew.

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Published Aug 6, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Aug 6, 2020 at 7:57 am)

Old subsea cable recovered for recycling

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