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

La Société Française des Télégraphes Sous-Marins
by Bill Glover


The French Minister of Posts and Telegraphs agreed to support the company, La Participation des Câbles des Antilles, in the laying of cables to connect French territories in the West Indies. A contract was awarded to the W.T. Henley Telegraph Works Company in 1887 for half the core and all of the armouring while La Société Générale des Téléphones supplied the other half of the core, with Henley’s undertaking the laying of all the cables.

By the time the cables were ready the company had been taken over by La Société Française de Télégraphes Sous-Marin. Laying took place during 1888 as follows and the cables came into service the same year.

Guantanamo Cable Station

Cables laid by CS Westmeath.

Santiago de Cuba - Guantanamo, Cuba 50 nm
Guantanamo, Cuba - St Nicholas Mole, Haiti 125 nm
St Nicholas Mole - Cap Haitien, Haiti 96 nm
Cap Haitien - Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic 116 nm

Cables laid by CS Roddam.

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - Willemstad, Curacao 453 nm
Willemstad - La Guaira, Venezuela 161 nm

The following cables were laid during 1889-91 using CS Westmeath. Cables were manufactured by La Société Générale des Téléphones, who were now in a position to carry out the armouring. Henley’s undertook the installation.

1889 Fort de France, Martinique - Point à Pirie, Guadeloupe 106 nm
  Point à Pirie - St Louis, Marie Galante 19 nm
  Fort de France - Charlotte Amélie, St Thomas
1890 Fort de France, Martinique - Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana 704 nm
1891 Paramaribo - Cayenne, French Guiana 278 nm
  Cayenne - Vizen, Brazil 556 nm
  Mole St Nicholas - Port au Prince, Haiti 112 nm
  Fort‑de‑France ‑ Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic 403 nm
  Guadeloupe ‑ The Saints Island 23 nm

The next cable laid by the company was between Mon Repos, Bundaberg, Australia and Téoudié, New Caledonia. CS Francois Arago, formerly CS Westmeath, laid the 793 nm long cable in 1893. The cable was abandoned in 1898.

In the face of intense competition from British companies the two French companies, La Société Français de Télégraphes Sous-Marin and La Compagnie Français du Télégraphe de Paris à New York, merged in 1895 to form La Compagnie Français des Câbles Télégraphiques.

Last revised: 30 January, 2021

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