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

Jose Manuel Gil and CS Mercury

Introduction: Jose Manuel Gil served on CS Mercury in 1978. The ship's home port at the time was Vigo, Spain, and she had a number of Spanish crew members. Owned and operated by Cable & Wireless, Mercury was engaged in cable laying and repair duties, and took Jose to Jamaica, Bermuda, Cuba, and Miami.

Here Jose shares many of his photographs of cable recovery and repair on CS Mercury.

--Bill Burns

I have pleasant memories of my service on CS Mercury, and of working with the mini- submarine, or Remote Operated Vehicle (R.O.V.) "Scarab".

Boarding CS Mercury in Southampton England, I spent six months there, and later we sailed in the Caribbean and to Miami. Our base was at the Bermuda Islands.

Greetings to those who sailed on the other Cable & Wireless cable ships at that time: CS Retriever, CS Cable Enterprise (2) , and CS Sentinel (2).

Señor Gil at the cable engine controls

Laying the cable

Off duty

Cable & Wireless

Hauling in the cable

Standing by

Rescuing a yacht

Cable ship at Miami

Crewman's Landing Permit

The year in which I sailed on this ship was 1978, according to the document issued when I was in Port Everglades, and this was the most important time of my work. This consisted of locating the submarine cable, which carried telephone signals and many more from Europe to the different countries.

Here we worked on a failure that was caused by a fishing boat which broke the underwater cable. We had to locate the cable on the sea bed and hoist it on to the ship so that the engineers could repair it. This was done using the Scarab R.O.V. a mini submarine remotely operated from the ship and equipped with cameras and other gear.

Deploying the Scarab R.O.V.


Scarab R.O.V. machinery and camera controls

Hoping for a catch

The cable hooked and being hauled on board

Engineer repairing the broken cable

Retrieving the Scarab R.O.V.

Return to the surface

The next photographs show CS Mercury under way, and at various ports of call.

The bridge

Heavy seas ahead

CS Mercury at Jamaica

CS Mercury at Bermuda

CS Mercury at Bermuda

CS Mercury at Cuba

CS Mercury at Miami

CS Mercury at Miami

Life was not all hard work on CS Mercury. Here are some photographs of a celebration on the ship with British and Spanish cable officials, from whom we received great affection and respect, even though we did not all speak the same language.

Mr. Makey, the engineering officer, was a Scotsman, and played his native instrument, which made our hair stand on end. Not because of the sound, but because some of the Spanish crew were from Galicia in the north of Spain, and the bagpipe is a traditional musical instrument of the Gallegos.

Engineers inspecting the Scarab R.O.V.


Party on CS Mercury with cable officials

Mr Makey playing the bagpipe

Jose Manuel Gil with cable officials

Jose Manuel Gil at Bermuda

See also this Cable Story on CS Mercury

Last revised: 29 November, 2009

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