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

The International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC)

From the earliest days of the cable industry, damage to cables from fishing boats and other ships has been a problem. It’s reported that the first cable ever laid, from Dover to Calais in 1850, was put out of action almost immediately by a fisherman who hooked the line near shore and cut out a section as a souvenir. Later cables were subject to damage by ships’ anchors and fishing trawls, so eventually, by international convention, cables were awarded protected status against such events, with severe penalties for those causing avoidable damage to cables.

Today, the International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC), established in 1958, keeps records of all active submarine cables and many disused ones, with an online database for easy reference. Its main purpose is “to promote the safeguarding of submarine cables against man-made and natural hazards,” which include “fishing, undersea mining, oil and gas, dredging, and other offshore industries utilising the seabed.”

George Craig, who worked for 32 years with AT&T and Ocean Cables, has provided these images of ICPC souvenir items, issued as reminders of the work of the Committee.

Ashtray with the cable protection symbols.
The map of the USA's East Coast shows cables laid by AT&T’s
CS Long Lines, landing at Rhode Island and New Jersey


ICPC playing cards:
“Protect Cables” in four languages


ICPC key holder

Images courtesy of and copyright © 2010 George Craig

Last revised: 5 July, 2010

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