Global Marine Systems

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Global Marine Systems Ltd
Type Private
Industry Telecommunications
Headquarters Chelmsford, England, UK
Area served Global
Employees 300
Website globalmarinesystems.com

Global Marine Systems is a specialist provider of installation, maintenance and repairs of submarine communications cable for the Telecommunications, Oil & Gas and Energy industries.

History[edit]

The company that eventually became Global Marine Systems has been involved in the installation of submarine cable networks since the first cables were laid in the 1850s.

The very first copper cable was laid between England and France on 29 August 1850 by a small paddle-driven steam tug called the Goliath, an event that marked the start of the submarine cable industry. The Times reported: “The electric telegraph appears to us more like a miracle than any scientific discovery or mechanical achievement of our time”. Unfortunately by the following morning, the cable was no longer working. The return to port of a French fisherman bearing a new variety of “gold-centred seaweed’’ (having mistaken copper cable for gold) appeared to explain the failure.

The use of submarine cables for the world's communication networks has grown rapidly, and now more than 95% of our data and voice communication now travels through nearly a million miles of cables, crossing every stretch of water. The communications that are enabled by submarine telecommunications technology - namely the internet and the World Wide Web, as well as plain old telephone calls - are fundamental to both social connections and business operations.

The global cable networks are a vital component to the world's financial, political and social makeup, and it has been the job of Global Marine Systems to install, maintain and repair those crucial networks for more than 160 years now. The threat to submarine cables has not changed significantly since that first “gold-centred seaweed” incident. The vast majority of cable faults are caused by ‘external aggression’, and 80% of external aggression faults result from fishing and shipping activities.

Most of the remainder of cable faults are caused by natural forces such as earthquakes, waves and sea currents. One example of this was the Hengchun Earthquake and subsequent submarine landslide that occurred on 26 December 2006. The landslide and resultant turbidity current travelled over 330 km and broke nine submarine cables. Damage was located in water depths up to 4000m and while mission critical internet connections, through the ability of cable owners to re-route traffic, were largely reinstated within 24 hours, cable repair work involved 11 ships and took 49 days to fully complete.

Telecommunication networks are simply too important to fail, so their design architecture is robust and diverse, with a strong level of resiliency built into all cables, regardless of whether their owners are competitors. If a cable is damaged, traffic is seamlessly redirected onto an alternative route. As a result, international banking systems continue to function, social networks remain intact. Even in the Hengchun Earthquake incident, re-routing of mission critical information occurred within hours so that banks, airlines and online commerce in China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan and the Philippines could function again. Cable owners recognize the importance of working together to ensure continuity of communications around the world.

Crucial to continuity of communications are the service agreements that cable owners have implemented with cable ship operators, who strategically position vessels around the world for immediate mobilization, and Global Marine is one of the main companies that provide such ongoing support.

Today[edit]

Global Marine Systems provides engineering and underwater services in response to the subsea cable installation, maintenance and burial requirements of their customers around the world. With a fleet of vessels, ROVs and specialized subsea trenching/burial equipment, Global Marine offers solutions to the Oil & Gas, Telecom and Energy industries.

Global Marine's "Cable Innovator" with ROV on a subsea cable repair.
Global Marine's Cable Innovator conducting a repair Global Marine Systems.

Global Marine Systems, the legacy of Cable & Wireless Marine and British Telecom Marine, was purchased by Global Crossing in 1999, at which time it received the name it carries today. In 2004 Global Marine Systems was purchased by Bridgehouse Marine and was completely restructured. Historically, the company has a legacy of over 160 years of cable installation, stemming from the first telegraph cables laid in the 1850s.

Global Marine has a worldwide presence, with offices in Chelmsford, UK and Singapore; Depots in Portland, UK; Bermuda; Vancouver, Canada; Batangas, Philippines and Batam, Indonesia; Ships stationed around the world to support both installation of new cables and maintenance/protection of existing cables; and joint ventures with China Telecom, Huawei and NTT.

Since 2002 Global Marine has become increasingly active in the installation of submarine power cables and gained significant market share in the European Offshore Renewables market, in addition to undertaking a number of large power interconnect projects. The company was responsible for installing the cables connecting the turbines on a host of windfarm projects including Blythe (one of the first trial farms), Horns Rev 1 (the first major commercial windfarm in Denmark), Thornton Bank, Kentish Flats and others. To support this business Global Marine formed a subsidiary in 2011 called Global Marine Energy. The development of the energy business included the opening of a new office in Middlesbrough and the construction of a specialist vessel, Cable Enterprise. The subsidiary company was sold to Prysmian Group, the world’s largest cable manufacturer at the time of sale, in September 2012.

Group historical achievements[edit]

  • 1988 Installed first transatlantic fibre optic submarine cable, TAT-8,
  • 1989 Installed first private transatlantic fibre optic submarine cable, PTAT
  • 1990 Installed first transpacific fibre optic submarine cable, NPC
  • 1992 First to plough unarmoured cable over 1,000 km in one continuous operation between Brunei and Singapore
  • 1994 First to post-lay bury to 2,000 metres, Pacific Rim West
  • 1995 First to bury cable to 10 metres and 4 metres in rock, APCN
  • 2010 Achieved deepest recorded cable burial at Port Klang in Malaysia achieving 14 meters on a power cable connecting to the Island of Pulau Ketam
  • Global Marine Systems is also the first company to use an offshore vessel for cable installation

External links[edit]

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