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

CS Long Lines
by Bill Glover

CS LONG LINES

Built by Schlieker Werft, Hamburg. Completed by Deutsche Werft after Schlieker Werft went bankrupt.

Launched 24 September 1961. Delivered June 1963

Length 511 ft 6 in.  Breadth 69 ft 10 in.  Draught 26 ft 9 in.  Gross tonnage 11326

Built for the Transoceanic Cable Ship Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. Fitted with 3 cable tanks, two of 55 ft dia and one 42 ft dia., all being 32 ft high, giving a storage capacity of 156,119 cubic feet or 2168 nm of 1¼ inch cable. Three smaller tanks each with a capacity of 3,000 cu. ft. for storing repair cable were fitted between the main tanks. The cable laying equipment consisted of a linear cable engine in the stern and two paying out-picking up machines forward with three 10 ft dia bow sheaves and gantry for laying rigid repeaters.

AT&T’s Tech Channel is posting archival footage of many events in communications history; this 30-minute film of CS Long Lines from 1965 is courtesy of the site.

The story of the Bell System’s first “ultra-modern” cable ship. Included in the film are her first cable laying assignments: the third telephone cable across the Atlantic Ocean, TAT-3 (TransAtlantic Telephone Cable Number 3), and the first cable across the Pacific Ocean, TPC-1 (Transpacific Cable Number 1, from Hawaii to Japan, via Midway, Wake and Guam). Also shown are the cables laid from Guam to the Philippines, the second Hawaiian cable back into San Luis Obispo on the California Coast, and the Vero Beach, FL to St. Thomas, V.I. cable system.

A sample of the Hawaii-Japan cable, the manufacture and laying of which is shown in the film, may be seen on the TPC-1 page.

There are other cable-related videos at AT&T's YouTube channel. Search there for “cable”.

Cable engine used aboard CS Long Lines. The engine is designed to run at payout speeds compatible with ship speeds of 8 knots.

Site visitor Michael Anthony shares this story of laying repeatered cable on CS Long Lines:

I sailed on the CS Long Lines in 1972, when I was 21, as an ordinary seaman in the deck dept. for the S.I.U. It was quite an adventure at that young age, as we were given a course to steer but were not permitted to know where we actually were. The vessel was under contract by the Navy for the purpose of laying submarine tracking cable somewhere off the coast of California.

As deck hands we were also given the job of standing watch in the large storage tanks. Our responsibility was to call out mile markers (in tenths) that were attached to the cable for the purpose of alerting the technicians on deck who were installing repeaters every 20 miles. When the markers revealed the approaching 20 mile mark, the technicians would promptly clear the deck (along with whoever was in the tank), as the cable whipped out of the tank. The impressive part was to see it pick up the section on deck which had moments before been shrouded beneath a tent with numerous technicians hurrying to complete their task.

The flurry of excitement, and anticipation would reach its peak as the cable, which was coiled in such a way as to have it pass over the deck at 20-mile intervals (a seemingly impossible task in itself) would drop into sea without a hitch. At this point I would re-enter the tank, the technicians would begin their work, and the process would continue, mile upon mile.

Stern of CS Long Lines showing special chute to accommodate rigid repeaters. Most cable laying innovations incorporated in the ship’s design were pioneered by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company.

In 1997 Tyco International acquired AT&T Submarine Systems, which included CS Long Lines and CS Charles L. Brown.

CS Long Lines belt buckle
“Improving Worldwide Communications”

The mermaids at the top of the buckle
are talking on the telephone

Following Tyco Telecommunications' purchase of new cable ships, Long Lines was mainly employed on repair duties. Sold for scrap, the ship arrived at Alang, India on 27 June 2003 for breaking up.

CABLE WORK

1963 TAT 3 USA - England
1964 TPC 1 Hawaii - Midway Island- Wake Island - Guam - Japan
1964 TPC 1 Guam - Philippines
1964 HAW 2 California, USA - Makaha, Hawaii
1964 HAW 2 Hanahumu Bay - Makaha, Hawaii
1964 Florida, USA - St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
1965 TAT 4 USA - France
1968 Florida, USA - St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
1968 US Virgin Islands - Dominican Republic
1970 TAT 5 USA - Spain
1974 HAW 4 USA - Hawaii
1974 TPC 2 Hawaii - Guam - Okinawa
1976 TAT 6 USA - France
1977 Vancouver - Hawaii
1977 California - Hawaii
1979 USA - Guatemala
1980 US Virgin Islands - Venezuela
1980 US Virgin Islands - Fortaleza, Brazil
1982 First deep-sea trial of optical fiber cable
1983 TAT 7 USA - England
1987 TPC 3 Hawaii - Guam - Japan
1988 TAT 8 USA - England - France
1992 TPC 4 USA - Canada - Japan

CS Long Lines at New York, circa 1987/88
Image courtesy of Gordon Fulda

See also:

Leo Parrish and CS Long Lines

Undersea Cable Systems - A Survey, or: Explanation to an Unknown Lady in Philadelphia by Robert L. Easton

Last revised: 18 February, 2017

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You can help - if you have cable material, old or new, please contact me. Cable samples, instruments, documents, brochures, souvenir books, photographs, family stories, all are valuable to researchers and historians.

If you have any cable-related items that you could photograph, copy, scan, loan, or sell, please email me: billb@ftldesign.com

—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: Atlantic-Cable.com