Global Marine to Lay New Cables for ONC’s Neptune Observatory


Global Marine Systems, the UK based subsea cable route design, installation and maintenance specialist, has secured a contract from Ocean Networks Canada, to upgrade the fibre-optic cables serving the Neptune observatory off the west coast of Canada.

The subsea infrastructure of Neptune comprises an 800 km loop of fibre optic cable connected to various instrumented sites (nodes). The observatory enables scientists continuous long-term, high temporal resolution observations. The shore station at Port Alberni on Vancouver Island sends the collected data via fibre optic cable to the University of Victoria and out to the world via the Internet.

The contract with Global Marine was signed in September and includes two parts. The first, which was completed in October 2015, was the recovery of failed cables from the Neptune system. The second is the cable installation of new subsea cables, which is scheduled for May 2016.

The Project

The cable recovery work for the Neptune observatory was performed by Global Marine’s vessel, Wave Venture. There were four sections of broken cable identified for recovery, measuring 4750, 7962, 3500 and 1560 metres in length, at water depths of between 2100 and 2400 metres.

Although the recovery work proved relatively straightforward, according to Global Marine, the installation of new fibre optic cables next year is expected to provide a far greater engineering challenge. The difficult task is in part down to the fact that the mechanical subsea structures weighing circa 1.8 tonnes each, will make storage and vessel loading far from simple.

Four cables in total will each feature a mud-mat at each end that helps secure the cable in place. The subsequent task will be accurate deployment on the seabed, using a ROV to connect existing seabed cables to the structure.

“We are extremely pleased to assist Ocean Networks Canada and ultimately the University of Victoria continue their important deep sea research in the region,” says John Walters, Director of Maintenance at Global Marine. “Our in-house teams offer proven capabilities in the delivery of fully engineered end-to-end solutions that meet a vast array of customer requirements. The Neptune installation is a case in point, where Global Marine is providing both installation services and on-going maintenance solutions during the system’s lifetime.”


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