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

CS Cable Venture
by Bill Glover


Built in 1962 by Lubecker Flenderwerke A.G.

Length 493.8 ft. Breadth 61.7 ft. Depth 29.5 ft. Gross tonnage 8910

Owned by Union Kabellgungs & Schiffarts and named Neptun (3) and used by them as a bulk carrier. Operated as a cable ship by Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke. Fitted with six holds, five of which were used for storing cable with a capacity of 225,000 cubic feet. The sixth was used to store grapnels, buoys etc. Repeaters were stored in the spaces between the holds and the circular cable tanks. Three bow sheaves and one stern sheave were fitted, all were 9 ft 10 in. in diameter. Cable machinery consisted of a double combined picking up-paying out gear forward and a single paying out gear aft all electrically driven. Repeaters were fed from each tank via a trough which in turn linked with a trough running down the port side to the aft paying out gear.

Cable Venture landing shore end

Sold in 1965 to the United States Undersea Cable Corporation who were responsible for the installation of the cables listed below with Neptun (3). The Eastern Test Range and the Philippines - Vietnam cables were laid by Neptun (3) while under charter from Union Kabellgungs & Schiffarts. All were for use by the USAF with Neptun (3) acting as repair ship, based at Subic Bay in the Philippines. In 1971 she was sold to International Marine Operations Inc., a subsidiary of ITT, who took over responsibility for maintaining the cables.

Cable Venture
Image courtesy of David Griffiths

Purchased by Cable & Wireless in 1975 who undertook a major refit which included converting four of the holds into cable tanks providing storage for 2400 nm of 1 inch coaxial cable or 1300 nm of 1½ inch cable or 900 nm of the new 1.7 inch cable. The fifth hold was used for the storage of buoys, grapnels etc.

A site visitor who was an engineer for one component of the refit sends this note:

During the 1975 refit at Immingham, Cable Venture was the first merchant vessel in the UK to be fitted with Comsat General satellite communications terminal - you can see the radome very clearly. I was the engineer from International Marine Radio (part of ITT) who carried out the work of fitting it.

I didn’t see this part of the project finished because of technical difficulties, and the final commissioning of the equipment was done in Southampton by our engineers there.

This was the first fitting of this equipment on a merchant vessel in the UK, and it was quickly followed by the Cunard liners and one or two others. Satellite communications really took off when the Falklands crisis happened and all ships were fitted with such equipment before joining our relief forces. After that it was a free-for-all, and it was the doom of the traditional Radio Officer on merchant ships.

Cable Venture at Singapore, 1980
Image courtesy of Stephen Swayne

Adjacent to the four tanks was space to store 500 repeaters and equalisers. These were fed to the aft Dowty linear engine via a trolley running in a suspended trackway down the port side. The conversion was carried out at Immingham by the Humber Graving Dock and Engineering Company, and the ship was renamed Cable Venture. The naming ceremony, carried out by Princess Alexandra, took place on the 18th April 1977 and the vessel entered service in August. In 1980 the ship underwent a major refit which included the fitting of a new stern chute, cable plough and associated equipment.

Cable Venture loading cable from the freighter Brookness in Noumea, New Caledonia, Oct 1983, for the ANZCAN cable.
Photograph courtesy of David Watson

Sold in March 1998 to Pounds of Portsmouth, being towed to Portsmouth as Able Venture. Arrived in Alang, India on the 14th May 1998 for scrapping.

CS Cable Venture at Portsmouth prior to
being towed to Alang, India for scrapping.

1963 Eastern Test Range No 1 cable
1964 Philippines - Vietnam
1967 Vietnam coastal cables
1967 Vietnam - Thailand
1971 Taiwan - Okinawa
1978 COLUMBUS 1 Venezuela - Canary Islands
1978 ASEAN Philippines - Singapore
1978 PENCAN 3 Spain - Gran Canaria
1979 Tripoli - Benghazi, Libya
1980 TAILU Taiwan - Luzon
1981 IOCOM India - Malaysia
1982 ATLANTIS Section 1 Brazil - Senegal
1982 APOLLO Greece - Cyprus
1983 ANZCAN Canada - Norfolk Island section
1984 SHT Hong Kong - Singapore
1984 SHT Hong Kong - Taiwan
1984-5 SEA-ME-WE 1 Segment B Indonesia - Sri Lanka
1984 SEA-ME-WE 1 Segment D Djibouti - Saudi Arabia
1986 UAE - INDIA
1986 AIS 1 Australia - Indonesia - Singapore
1989 PTAT 1 UK - USA
1990 NORTH PACIFIC CABLE Japan - USA - Alaska
1993 ASIA PACIFIC CABLE Singapore - Malaysia - Taiwan - Japan
1993 SEA-ME-WE 2 Segments 2.4, 2.5 Djibouti - India

T-V-H; Thailand - Vietnam section

1995 PACRIM WEST Guam - Australia
1997 GEMINI South system USA - UK

See also the Stamps page on Neptun/Cable Venture

Last revised: 30 January, 2017

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