The CS Cable Restorer

CS Cable Restorer, a cable repair ship, was launched on 26th January 1944 as HMS Bullfrog, one of five sister ships. Employed in the preservation of communications during the Second World War and the laying and maintaining of ASDIC (Anti-Submarine Detection Committee) loops at main ports, she was sold to the Cable & Wireless Company in 1946 and renamed Retriever. After 17 years of service, she was sold in 1961 to the Commercial Cable Company and renamed Cable Restorer.

Eight years later in in March 1969, she was stationed at Cape Town, South Africa and in July 1972 was purchased by the South Atlantic Cable Company. Her registry changed from British to South African. Decommissioned and handed to the Simon's Town Museum in July 1993, she has continued to serve. From 1994 to 1998 she was home to 200 maritime students from the Simon's Town High School and was previously the venue of the unique "Roaring Forties" restaurant.

Builders :            

Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson Ltd.

Length Overall :    

76,8 metres

Beam :            

11,09 metres

Main Engines :        

Triple Expansion Steam, Twin Screw 2 x 6254 HP

Boilers :            

Babcox & Wilcox Water Tube 2 x 200 lbs PSI 2900 sq ft Heating Surface

Trial Speed :        

12.5 Knots at 126 Revolutions

10.08 Knots At 110 Revolutions

9.12 Knots at 95 Revolutions

Range :            

4000 Nautical Miles At 9 Knots

Fuel Capacity :

Fuel Oil 345 Tons, 

Gas Oil 14.7 Tons

Cable Ships

Early cable ships mostly started out as something else. Typical was the "Great Eastern", which was first a passenger ship but, being the largest man-made vessel afloat at the time, she was ideally sized for laying the first transatlantic telegraph cable over a hundred years ago. It was not until the end of the 19th Centuary that the prospering telegraph companies embarked on the production of a special breed of vessel to meet the unique requirements of cable-laying - the Cable Ship.

Cable ships are categorised as cable-laying and cable-repair vessels. Cable-laying vessels are generally much larger than cable-repair ships and, as their name suggests, are used to lay the undersea cables. These ships are also capable of effecting cable repairs. Cable-repair ships are mostly smaller and their design and construction was determined by factors such as the types of cable to be serviced, area of operation and sea floor depth. Certain cable-repair ships are also adaptable to laying cables over short distances.

Undersea Cables

Before the days of radio, Great Britain kept in touch with its far flung Empire by means of telegraph carried overland as well as undersea. The first undersea cable was laid between Newfoundland and Ireland in 1858. After only four weeks of service, it failed. By 1900, over fifteen cables spanned the Atlantic. The first South Atlantic undersea cable to South Africa - known as SAT 1 - was laid in 1968. It stretched from Portugal to Ascension Island and from Ascension Island to Cape Town, the last leg some 4150 kilometres (2594 nautical miles) long. The entire system initially had 625 repeaters and 50 equalisers, but more repeaters allowed for full duplex communication (the carriage of messages in both directions at once).

SAT 1 was taken out of service in 1993 and replaced with a modern fibre-optic cable named SAT 2. SAT 2 spans a distance of 9500 kilometres, linking the Southern tip of Africa with Europe. It runs from Melkbosstrand (just north of Cape Town) to the Canary Islands and Madeira in the North Atlantic. The "core" of SAT 2 consists of four high quality glass fibres each 250 microns in diameter, slightly thicker than a human hair. This type of cable allows for much faster communication as the information is sent out optically - that is by means of light impulses. The communication speed of this fibre is 591 megabits per second. To give an indication of how fast this really is, the entire King James Version of the Bible can be transmitted 36 times every second. It was thought that SAT 2 would meet telecommunication demands for approximately 20 years (until 2012), however it is already fully utilised and SAT 3 is presently underway and will total 28 800 kilometres in length. Cable is still preferred to satellite communication in many instances as the cable time delay on SAT 3 will be less than 60 milliseconds whereas satellite transmission is typically 250 milliseconds.