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

by Bill Glover


Until 1924 most Italian overseas cablegrams were transmitted over foreign cables. In that year Italcable Servizi Cablografici (Italcable) ordered just over 9000 nm of cable to provide service from Italy to South America via intermediate points. On completion of the system in 1925 a commemorative medal was issued.

Four companies manufactured and laid the system's cables as follows.

Anzio, Italy - Malaga, Spain; 1005 nm long, manufactured by Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke and laid by Citta di Milano (2). The 870 nm cable between Malaga - Las Palmas, Canary Islands was manufactured by the same company and laid by the same ship.

ItalcableObverse.jpg (88867 bytes) ItalcableReverse.jpg (95251 bytes)

The Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company were contracted to manufacture and lay a 1337 nm cable between Malaga and Horta, Azores. CS Colonia installed the cable. At Horta a link was established with the Western Union New York - Horta cable.

Atterraggio del cavo a Malaga
Landing the Malaga shore end of the Malaga - Horta cable.

Posa del cavo nella trincea di Malaga
Laying Malaga shore end in trench prior to burial

Atterraggio del cavo ad Horta (isole Azzorre)
Landing the Horta shore end of the Malaga - Horta cable

When Western Union abandoned the New York - Horta cable in 1966, Italcable leased circuits in TAT 2 and TAT 4.

Click for detail of logo

Click for detail of map

A 963 nm cable, manufactured by Pirelli, was laid between Las Palmas and Cape St. Vincent, Cape Verde Islands, using CS Citta di Milano (2) to carry out the installation.

Approdo del cavo a S. Vincenzo di Capo Verde
Italcable Cable Station, St Vincent, Cape Verde Islands.
Landing point of cables from Las Palmas, Canary Islands
and Fernando da Noronha, Brazil.

Siemens Bros manufactured the 1513 nm cable laid between Cape St. Vincent and Fernando Noronha, Brazil and the 1824 nm cable from Fernando Noronha to Rio de Janeiro, using CS Faraday (2) to lay both cables.

Souvenir card, with a piece of slip attached, for the
opening of the Italy - Azores cable by Italcable.
The message reads “ITALCABLE – WESTERN UNION”

The 1203 nm cable from Rio de Janeiro to Montevideo was manufactured by the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company and laid by CS Colonia; as were the two, 200 nm, cables laid between Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

Italcable Cable Office,
Montevideo, Uruguay

Edificio dell’ITALCABLE a Buenos Aires
(Calle S. Martin, 318-326)
Italcable Cable Office,
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Other cables laid were Anzio - Barcelona - Malaga in 1927, Malaga - Lisbon and Anzio - Palermo - Cagliari in 1929. CS Dominia laid a cable from Lisbon to La Panne in Belgium in 1930.

A recent photograph of the abandoned
cable landing at De Panne, Belgium.
Image courtesy of and copyright
© 2008 Christine Denorme

1938 Rio de Janeiro - Santos, Brazil. 1951 the Fernando Noronha - Rio de Janeiro cable was rerouted to Recife and two years later CS Monarch (4) linked Recife and Cape St. Vincent.

Italcable publicity card and special meter cancellation for the Milan Exhibition of 1928
Italcable publicity card for the 1930 exposition in Antwerp (Anvers), Belgium
1930 card scans courtesy of Martin Braem

All of these cables were kept working until circuits became available in the then new co-axial telephone cables that were being laid. Circuits in SAT 1 were allocated to Italcable because it was laid over part of the its South American cable route.

Italcable was one of six partners responsible for the installation of TAT 5, and a further thirty authorities leased circuits in this cable.

MAT 1 was again a joint venture, this time with six others. This cable ran from Estepona, Spain, to Palo, Italy, and carried 640 circuits. The 990 nm of cable and 93 repeaters were manufactured by Standard Telephone & Cables Ltd. and laid by CS John W. Mackay.

Muirhead cable key marked "ITALCABLE"
Image courtesy of and copyright © 2008 Jon Hanson


Built 1905 by F. Schichau & Co., Danzig .

Length 3042 ft. Breadth 41.7 ft. Depth 25.5 ft. Gross tonnage 2691.

Image courtesy of Donard de Cogan

Built for Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke as CS Grossherzog von Oldenburg. Handed over to the Italians at the end of World War I as war reparations and renamed CS Citta di Milano. Succeeded in avoiding being taken over by the Germans in WW 2 when Italy surrendered. Scuttled at Savona on 18 September 1943.

Used as the base supply ship at Kings Bay, Spitzbergen, for Umberto Nobile's Arctic expedition with the airship ITALIA.

Seven-minute film of CS Citta di Milano laying the 1929 Palermo - Anzio - Cagliari Cable:

Last revised: 9 August, 2010

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