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

Jack Jenkins and CS Mercury

Introduction: Jack Jenkins served on CS Mercury on her maiden voyage in 1962, and describes here some of the problems encountered.

Thanks to Jim Jones for contacting Jack to make this material available, and to Denis Campbell for the cableship photographs.

--Bill Burns

I was born and bred in Co Durham, and I've lived in New Zealand for the last 42 years. My service on the Mercury was on her maiden voyage, which lasted about a month and a half in 1962.

On leaving Liverpool, they tried the gear out in the St. George's Channel, fished around for some old cable, found it, buoyed the end off, and reeled in some of it. When they went back for the buoy, they went astern too close and got the buoy chain around the port prop. One of the deck officers had scuba gear on board; he went down to check and confirmed what had happened.

We then went into drydock at Falmouth to remedy the problem. We had lots of small electrical fires; also the main diesel engine manifolds caught fire with fuel slopping over them. The lube oil pipes from sump to main engines sheared with the vibration and had to be replaced with flexible ones.

I left the ship when she returned to Greenwich for her first load of cable - although the accommodation and food was first class, I just couldn't handle the ''bullshit'' regime. Geordie lads and cummerbunds don't mix!!!

The photographs below were sent to me from an ex R/O on the Mercury, and show the ship in her later years.

--Jack Jenkins

CS Mercury and Canberra, 1970

HMTS Monarch(5) and CS Mercury, 1979

Another view of HMTS Monarch(5) , 1979.
Full view of this location

Denis Campbell in the CS Mercury Radio Office, Vigo 1979

Some of the crew at Vigo, 1979.
L to R: Steve 'Stretch' Whitehead 3/E, Bob Luke 4/E,
Denis Campbell R/O, Ted Smith E/E,
Hughie Rodger 4/E, Terry Watson 4/E.

All images on this page courtesy of and copyright © 2006 Denis Campbell. All rights reserved.

See also this Cable Story on CS Mercury

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]

—Bill Burns, publisher and webmaster: