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Ship Anchor, Not Sabotaging Divers, Possibly Responsible For Outage

samzenpus posted about a year and a half ago | from the who's-to-blame dept.

The Internet 43

Nerval's Lobster writes "This week, Egypt caught three men in the process of severing an undersea fiber-optic cable. But Telecom Egypt executive manager Mohammed el-Nawawi told the private TV network CBC that the reason for the region's slowdowns was not the alleged saboteurs — it was damage previously caused by a ship. On March 22, cable provider Seacom reported a cut in its Mediterranean cable connecting Southern and Eastern Africa, the Middle East and Asia to Europe; it later suggested that the most likely cause of the incident was a ship anchor, and that traffic was being routed around the cut, through other providers. But repairs to the cable took longer than expected, with the Seacom CEO announcing March 23 that the physical capability to connect additional capacity to services in Europe was "neither adequate nor stable enough," and that it was competing with other providers. The repairs continued through March 27, after faults were found on the restoration system; that same day, Seacom denied that the outage could have been the work of the Egyptian divers, but said that the true cause won't be known for weeks. 'We think it is unlikely that the damage to our system was caused by sabotage,' the CEO wrote in a statement. 'The reasons for this are the specific location, distance from shore, much greater depth, the presence of a large anchored vessel on the fault site which appears to be the cause of the damage and other characteristics of the event.'"

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Good News for Global Availability (5, Insightful)

Casey Annis (2872247) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308723)

Even a slice in the continental backbones can be overcome by a creative redundancy plan and it makes me happy to be a network engineer. Now if rural Ohio would invest in some more infrastructure I wouldn't have to go into "Oh Crap" mode when someone neglects to call DigRite and takes out our single fiber stub. Glad to hear that Telecom Egypt has their act together. -Casey

Re:Good News for Global Availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309385)

Fucking amen!

Re:Good News for Global Availability (1)

arcite (661011) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310075)

The good news is that there will be more capacity in the next year or two, but the Egypt Revolution has held up development. I'm in Cairo and can thankfully say that bittorrent is working again! yay! =)

Re:Good News for Global Availability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43311565)

Even a slice in the continental backbones can be overcome by a creative redundancy plan and it makes me happy to be a network engineer. Now if rural Ohio would invest in some more infrastructure I wouldn't have to go into "Oh Crap" mode when someone neglects to call DigRite and takes out our single fiber stub. Glad to hear that Telecom Egypt has their act together. -Casey

At least you have fiber.

The ocean is a harsh mistress (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43308743)

... undersea cables are heavily armored, not to protect from divers but for anchors and sharks. Sharks are also the reason they generally use optical pumping now ... sharks tend to bite the electrically pumped ones.

Re:The ocean is a harsh mistress (1)

ThatsMyNick (2004126) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308867)

Replying to undo moderation

Re:The ocean is a harsh mistress (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309037)

At least on the ocean floor they don't have to worry about angry bums [gimonca.com] ...

Re:The ocean is a harsh mistress (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year and a half ago | (#43311503)

If those same bums set the same fire today, they would probably be considered enemy combatants.

Query (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309235)

I have a question. Why don't they put these cables where ships don't anchor, rather than laying them right straight through the harbour?

Re:Query (2)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310163)

They do put them in areas where ships aren't supposed to anchor, and the areas are clearly marked on charts. But some "captains" ignore the warning markers or have no idea of their position and damage the things.

Re:Query (1)

stoatwblr (2650359) | about a year and a half ago | (#43333041)

CableCos are very interested when ships anchor over their lines - mainly so they can bill the owners for repairs. Captains who ignore warning markers usually end up wit huge liabilities attached.

Backhoes and anchors attracted to cables ... (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310205)

I have a question. Why don't they put these cables where ships don't anchor, rather than laying them right straight through the harbour?

They generally don't lay them in areas where ships anchor. Plus in a harbor ships are generally docked or moored at predetermined locations. There is not a lot or stopping wherever you like and dropping an anchor, that interferes with navigation in the harbor. Note the references to distance from shore and greater depths, it sounds like the ship was anchored in open water.

The real problem is that there is a force of nature where backhoes and anchors are attracted to cables. No cable on land or sea is safe.

Re:Backhoes and anchors attracted to cables ... (4, Informative)

dj245 (732906) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310485)

I have a question. Why don't they put these cables where ships don't anchor, rather than laying them right straight through the harbour?

They generally don't lay them in areas where ships anchor. Plus in a harbor ships are generally docked or moored at predetermined locations. There is not a lot or stopping wherever you like and dropping an anchor, that interferes with navigation in the harbor.

Moorings are also usually strategically placed in a harbor. When the tide turns around, boats will swing around 180 degrees. So each mooring should be clear in a 360 degree circle for a distance which corresponds to the length of the intended boat. An anchor has a much larger circle than a mooring, and when the tide turns, an anchor sometimes lets go or drags depending on the design. People dropping anchor anywhere they like in the harbor could cause a collision when the tide turned. So in many places there are rules that you can't anchor in the harbor anyways. I have seen plenty of cables in harbors for exactly these reasons.

Re:Backhoes and anchors attracted to cables ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43311935)

also, Anchors play holy hell with coral and kelp forests, and using anchors in these sort of places is frowned upon, 1 because it wrecks the ecosystem and 2 your more likely to snag something and wreck your anchor.

Also, for big ships, anchors are freaking useless anyway due to the ship's mass.

Re:Query (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | about a year and a half ago | (#43314445)

Every time you idiot-proof something, alot comes a better idiot And they gotta get close to land and come ashore somewhere, likely where there's heavy infrastructure already...

Re:The ocean is a harsh mistress (1)

bfandreas (603438) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309517)

... undersea cables are heavily armored, not to protect from divers but for anchors and sharks. Sharks are also the reason they generally use optical pumping now ... sharks tend to bite the electrically pumped ones.

That wouldn't deter sharktopus NOR megalodon. Ever since those two became born again they cut our access to vile smut whichever way they can.
Cheeky bastards!

Snuff (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43308779)

Sounds like a job for Halliburton/IMC contractor to me!

(posting as anon coward because this is the first post i've ever made on slashdot in almost 10 years of lurking)

Re:Snuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309095)

Wait... after 10 years of lurking, you posted anon, and that was what you wanted to say so bad that you broke silence?

Re:Snuff (2)

slackware 3.6 (2524328) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309123)

Never lurk its better to say your piece and get down modded.

Re:Snuff (0)

pitchpipe (708843) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309463)

(posting as anon coward because this is the first post i've ever made on slashdot in almost 10 years of lurking)

a;lksdjoiuoihkjbkjbdkjbva dvbadfb, because really, it's not that fucking important, at least not anymore. Slashdot's been overrun with Libertardians.

Re:Snuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309531)

Yeah. Libertarians, known for their great influence and vast numbers, have overrun /. Yours may have been the stupidest comment I've ever seen on /. And that's saying something.

Seems to happen regularly (1)

rduke15 (721841) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308791)

Re:Seems to happen regularly (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308967)

And perhaps related to the "global internet slowdown [gizmodo.com] "?

Re:Seems to happen regularly (1)

Seumas (6865) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309149)

The oceans are pretty big fucking places. What a coincidence that this keeps happening. You'd almost think it was a shitty cover, the way "so and so died in an airplane crash / heart attack in the hot tub" thing always seems to happen to politicians.

Re:Seems to happen regularly (1)

camperdave (969942) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309327)

The oceans are pretty big fucking places. What a coincidence that this keeps happening. You'd almost think it was a shitty cover, the way "so and so died in an airplane crash / heart attack in the hot tub" thing always seems to happen to politicians.

Not to mention the notorious "shot himself while cleaning his gun" and "passenger injury at track level"

Re:Seems to happen regularly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309631)

Totally, along with "slow, agonizing congestive heart failure from stage 4 lung cancer" and "3rd degree frostbite from spending the night at 30 below homeless under a bridge".

Re:Seems to happen regularly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43309701)

The fiber optic cables make landfall in or close to metropolitan areas, since that's where the customers are. If it were easy or in any way more secure to cover large distances over land, many of the underwater cables wouldn't exist: They are often installed to provide intracontinental connections more than intercontinental connections. The oceans are big, but the cables are where the ships are, for the same reasons.

Re:Seems to happen regularly (3, Informative)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310177)

There are, for reasons of not digging trenches through the Sahara, limited routes between the Indian and the Mediterranean. Vast amounts of ship traffic move along the same routes and every now and then tend to do stupid things. That area is a natural choke point and unfortunately it increases the likelihood of cable cuts.

If you examine cable faults on undersea cables, most tend to occur at these choke points. Seacom for example has not had breaks further south where the landing points are kept well clear, by 50 to 100km, of the harbours in southern Africa.

Re:Seems to happen regularly (1)

John.Banister (1291556) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309663)

The Comsat Trawler strikes again!

Very, hence why repairs are fast (3)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309675)

It is a fairly normal occurrence, and there are companies who have multiple ships for the express purpose of fixing breaks. You usually just don't hear about it unless it is accompanied by some kind of conspiracy theory. In reality, cables get damaged and fixed all the time. It happens often enough that it is usually not news.

Miss Utility (2)

jomegat (706411) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308847)

Somebody forgot to call Miss Utility! Again!

Re:Miss Utility (1)

Beorytis (1014777) | about a year and a half ago | (#43311515)

Where I live, her name is JULIE.

Egypt is a basket case (-1)

Simonetta (207550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308873)

We need to face the possibility that Egypt is a basket case and we might just have to let it go back to the 13th century. If they cut the cable that connects them to the civilized world, then let them reconnect it when they are ready and able to. It's not our concern.

www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/ME10Ak01.html

  We can't do everything for everybody in the world. At best we can save 'our people' techies, rock musicians, and gays, from Egypt's mad mullahs and the hungry hoards. I realize that this is a complicated issue. But it all boils down to the two sentences above.

Re:Egypt is a basket case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43308957)

Actually, the 13th century was probably a low point for post-invasian Islamism in Egypt.

The devil in me... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about a year and a half ago | (#43308877)

...would say that sacked the poor guys who were sent to check out and repair the damage.

reminds me of the good ol days... (1)

kesuki (321456) | about a year and a half ago | (#43309275)

when using dialup on a 486 to a real unix server and the news reader would post for you when you got disconnected with the message ^h^h^h^h NO CARRIER

The real reason why the divers cut the cable (4, Interesting)

evilsofa (947078) | about a year and a half ago | (#43310207)

So I ask myself, "Why would those divers cut a cable that is already cut?" And the theory I come up with is that the owners of the ship whose anchor cut the cable didn't want to get into trouble for it, so they hire some stupid divers to go cut the cable, then call the cops on the divers. Problem solved: the ship owners can now deny everything and blame the saboteurs for cutting the line. Explains everything, including the wildly improbable part where the divers get caught in the act.

Re:The real reason why the divers cut the cable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43310261)

Or it's a plot form a Bourne movie. Cell phones vibrate, a team of divers at differnt locations look at their phones, drop what they're doing and run to secretly stashed diving gear. They must be in the water in 15 minutes or the CIA won't pay them. Somewhere in Langely a room filled with computer geeks sweats as their boss yells "when will that damn cable get cut?" Someone tips off the local police and the divers get busted on the water. Oh no, what to do? Launch the backup plan. Activate the asset aborad ship and use an anchor to sever the cable!

Re:The real reason why the divers cut the cable (1)

dhomstad (1424117) | about a year and a half ago | (#43311683)

up mod to infinity. Thank you for calling out conspiracy theorist Neo

Confirmed outside the news. (1)

thebiss (164488) | about a year and a half ago | (#43311039)

I work for a large IT company with a presence in Cairo. We were told net issues were caused by an anchor early this week. The diver story, while more exciting, is likely BS.

How is this possible still? (1)

Mercury2k (133466) | about a year and a half ago | (#43311213)

What I can't understand is how, in this day in age of GPS navigation to almost the nearest inch, computerized navigation, maps, radar, etc, that on a ship like this it is even remotely possible to still drop anchor at or near one of this fiber optic lines and cut it with an anchor. No offense, but it seems a little silly that we can't solve this issue for once and for all in 2013.

Re:How is this possible still? (1)

idontgno (624372) | about a year and a half ago | (#43312961)

Quality navigation systems don't make a ship's crew give a damn. If clueless douchebags wanna drop anchor, the drop it.

To paraphrase Calvin, "You can present the coordinates, but you can't make me care."

Divers' purpose (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43318649)

Consider the unstable nature of the Middle East and I think you'll agree the serious answer as to why those divers were down there is probably espionage. The US has a long history of deploying taps on critical trunk lines/backbones for monitoring purposes. This was originally deployed against Soviet phone trunks, more recently we've seen the idea extended with the Utah data center and its backbone taps in the US.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Ivy_Bells [wikipedia.org]
http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/ [wired.com]

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