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

George Smith - CS Alert (4)

Introduction: George Smith sailed on HMTS/CS Alert (4) as third engineer from January 1967 to October 1973. Here are some of George's notes and photos.

--Bill Burns

In 1968 the Alert laid a short cable in Scotland, starting just off Inverary, then down Loch Fyne to around Loch Gair, about 15 miles in all. While the cable could have been run as a landline, this would have involved digging up the A83 main trunk road, so it was quicker and less disruptive to run a submarine cable.

The Alert left Rothesay dock in Clydebank, where she was based, at 10:50 on Sunday the 12th of May 1968. We anchored off Inverary and got FWE at 18:10 the same evening, just a day cruise!

According to my diary, the whole job - surveying and cable laying - took a little over a week, and we arrived back in Rothesay dock at 08:28 on Tuesday the 21st of May. However, if I remember correctly, the actual main lay took just one day.

In 1970 we were in quite different waters. Here are some photographs taken on board the Alert in the spring of 1970 as she worked her way through the icefield off St John's, Newfoundland, with the aid of the Canadian icebreaker Labrador.

Icebreaker CCGS Labrador, as seen from CS Alert

A little closer

CS Alert in the ice

Another view of the icebreaker Labrador

Icy conditions, as seen from CS Alert

The Alert was classified as strengthened for ice, but on one trip we came home from St John's to the Clyde on just one screw, as she had bent the tips of one propellor which resulted in a severe vibration.

Images and text copyright © 2006 George Smith

See also the main page on CS Alert (4)

Last revised: 19 October, 2011

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