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History of the Atlantic Cable & Undersea Communications
from the first submarine cable of 1850 to the worldwide fiber optic network

Submarine Telegraph Enterprise
from Engineering, March 2, 1894
Introduction: This article from the British trade paper, Engineering, dated March 2, 1894, gives an insight into the cost of laying and maintaining submarine cables.
--Bill Burns

Submarine Telegraph Enterprise

With the exception of the Brest and St. Pierre cable, which was broken in April, 1893, and the Valentia and Heart's Content cable, which was broken in July, 1893, the cables and land lines of the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, Limited, are reported to be in good working order. The company's steamer Minia, and the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company's steamer Calabria, were engaged last summer and autumn in endeavouring to repair the two broken cables, but they were unsuccessful in both cases, owing to the prevalence of unfavourable weather. In view of the age of the company's cables and the necessity for assuring the efficiency of the company's service, the directors of the Anglo-American Company have decided to lay a new cable from Ireland to Newfoundland in the course of next summer. A contract has accordingly been entered into with the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, Limited, for the manufacture and submersion of 1955 miles of cable between Valentia, Ireland, and Heart's Content, Newfoundland. The price to be paid for this cable is £450,000, which will be provided for out of the renewal fund. The cable will be superior in strength and carrying capacity to any cable yet laid across the Atlantic.

In consequence of the large deduction proposed to be made from the renewal fund to provide for the coat of the new cable, it will be necessary to resume allocations from revenue to the fund, if it is to be maintained at the level of £1,000,000, at which it was proposed some years since to keep it. In the course of the six months ending December 31, 1893, the fund was carried to £1,022,956 by interest received on investments; but it was brought down again to £1,005,070 by an expenditure of £17,886 in connection with the abortive efforts to repair the Valentia and Heart’s Content cable, 1874. The £1,005,070, representing the renewal fund at the close of 1893 was made up as follows: Value of cable, £80,005; sundry securities, £923,307; and cash not yet invested, £1,758. The expenditure made by the company in the repair of cables in the second half of 1893 was £12,648, made up as under: Expenses of steamer Minia, £12,278; value of cable expended, £370.

Under the terms of a contract dated June 17, 1893, with the Portuguese Government, the Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Company and the Eastern Telegraph Company have secured an additional ten years of their respective privileges under existing Portuguese concessions. To obtain this extension the Eastern Telegraph Company undertook to connect Lisbon and the Eastern Telegraph Company's general system with the Azores, and a cable was accordingly laid in the course of August, 1893. The two companies hold a large proportion of the shares in the Europe and Azores Telegraph Company, which has been formed to work the new line. A cable has also been laid from Zanzibar to the Seychelles and the Mauritius, under an agreement with Her Majesty's Government and the Eastern and South African Telegraph Company, thus connecting these colonies with the Eastern Telegraph Company's general system.

The Eastern Telegraph Company has five steamers engaged in the repair and renewal of cables, viz., the John Pender, the Chiltern, the Electra, the Mirror, and the Amber. The expenses of these five steamers in the second half of 1893 were £46,009, of which, however, £20,481 was charged to other companies for hire of the steamers for the purpose of cable repairs. Including the amount paid for insurance of cables on board ship, the value of cable used, and sundry other expenses, the definitive outlay made by the Eastern Telegraph Company in the repair and renewal of cables in the six months ending September 30, 1893, was £31,906.

The John Pender was engaged in repairing the Vigo and Lisbon cable, and also in repairing the Loanda and St. Thomé cable (twice) for the West African Telegraph Company. The Chiltern was engaged in repairing the Suez and Suakim No. 1 cable (twice), the Aden and Bombay No. 1 cable, the Suez and Aden No. 3 cable, the Suez and Aden No. 2 cable, the Suakim and Perim cable (twice), the Perim and Aden No. 1 cable, and the Suakim and Aden No. 2 cable. The Chiltern was also employed repairing the Aden and Zanzibar cable for the Eastern and South African Telegraph Company.

The Electra was engaged in repairing the Lisbon and Gibraltar No. 1 cable, the Porthcurnow and Lisbon No. I cable, and the Porthcurnow and Vigo cable. The Electra was also engaged in repairing the Falmouth and Bilbao cable for the Direct Spanish Telegraph Company.

The Mirror was engaged in repairing the Gibraltar and Tangier cable (twice), the Lisbon and Gibraltar No. 1 cable (twice), and the Vigo and Lisbon cable. The Mirror was further occupied in the repair of the St. Vincent and Pernambuco cable for the Brazilian Submarine Telegraph Company.

The Amber was engaged in repairing the Corfu and Otranto cable, the Bona and Malta No. 1 cable, and the Bona and Malta No. 2 cable.

In the course of the six months ending September 30, 1893, £35,505 was transferred from the reserve fund to capital towards the cost of the Aden and Bombay No. 3 cable. It should be noted that since its formation the reserve fund has furnished £1,292,328 towards the cost of new cables, land lines, instruments, &c. The most considerable of the allocations from the reserve fund were £300,000 for the triplicate Red Sea and other cables, 1884; £315,000 for the triplicate Porthcurnow and Malta cable and extension to Zante, 1888; £249,479 for the quadruplicate Red Sea cable, 1890 and 1891; and £169,230 for the triplicate Aden and Bombay cable, 1891.

Last revised: 21 February, 2012

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