Escher.gif (426 bytes)

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

Dutch East Indies Government
by Bill Glover

The first cable landed in the Dutch East Indies was laid by R.S. Newall in 1859. It ran from Singapore to Batavia, a distance of 550 nm. It failed shortly after laying.

In 1870 the British-Australian Telegraph Company laid a cable over the same route and another from Banjoewangi to Darwin. The East Indies Government began to lay cables between the various islands and by 1882 some 290 miles of cable had been laid by the ships of the Eastern Extension Company.

Cable house at Ajer Maleh (Aceh)

Other cables laid were:

1888 Java - Bali - Macassar 445 nm laid by CS Seine
1892 Medan - Acheen 289 nm
1897 Bali - Lombok 92 nm
Olehleh - Sabang 26 nm
1901 Java - Bandjermasin 284 nm
1903 Balikpapan - Kwandang 650 nm laid by CS’s Patrol and Restorer

In 1904 the German-Netherlands Telegraph Company laid a cable from Menado to Yap, Guam and Shanghai, which provided the Colonial Government with links to the networks of the Commercial Pacific Cable Company and the Northern Telegraph Company.

By 1904 the Dutch East Indies Government owned a network of 2462 nm of cable and maintenance was becoming a problem so in 1905 they purchased CS Von Podbielski from Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke and renamed the ship Telegraaf. On its outward journey the ship carried 375 nm of cable which it laid between Balikpapan and Macassar.

In 1913 Siemens Bros were contracted to manufacture and lay a total of 1347 nm of cable and used CS Faraday (1) to carry out the work. In the same year Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke using CS Stephan laid 720 nm of cable from Balikpapan to Soerabaja and Kema-Ternate. In 1921 this company also laid the last major cable in the area, using a chartered steamer Flint to lay 1710 nm of cable connecting Soerabaja - Macassar - Donggala - Menado.

CS Telegraaf was taken out of service in 1924, being replaced by CS Zuiderkruis. In 1933 the Government decided to abandon its cable network and rely on wireless, so as each cable failed it was abandoned.


Ex Von Podbielski

Sold for breaking up in 1924


Length 257.6 ft.  Breadth 36.7 ft.  Depth 22.2 ft.  Gross tonnage 2,200.

Built 1924 by Nederlandse Scheepsbouw, Maatschappij, Amsterdam.

Three tanks with a capacity of 250 nm of cable were fitted. Johnson & Phillips supplied two double combined paying out-picking up machines forward and a paying out machine aft

Later, the ship was used by the Hydrographic Branch of the Colonial Navy until 1938 and was then converted into a submarine depot ship.

Copyright © 2008 FTL Design

Last revised: 12 January, 2008

Return to Atlantic Cable main page

Research Material Needed

The Atlantic Cable website is non-commercial, and its mission is to make available on line as much information as possible.

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: [email protected]