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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 Dickenson
by Bill Glover


Built in 1923 by Sun Ship Building and Drydock Co., Chester, Pa.

Length 174.3 ft.  Breadth 30.1ft.  Depth 21.8 ft.  Gross tonnage 831.

Dickenson carried out a dual role for the Commercial Pacific Cable Company, being both a cable repair ship and supply vessel for the stations on the various islands, including Fanning Island. For cable storage one tank 20 ft diameter by 8 ft high was installed along with a modified cargo winch fitted with a large drum which served as cable gear and two 18 inch diameter bow sheaves were fitted. Accommodation for twelve passengers was provided as were two cargo holds to store supplies.

Chartered by Cable and Wireless in 1941 to evacuate the families of the cable station and plantation staff from Fanning Island because of the situation in the Far East, Dickenson arrived off Honolulu just as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor began.

As Dickenson approached Honolulu people on board reported seeing what appeared to be a  whale following the ship, it was in fact a Japanese submarine using Dickenson to screen its approach to Pearl Harbor. It was spotted by a US destroyer and sunk.

The Navy took over the ship from the cable company in Hawaii, placed her in service on 19 May 1942, and renamed her Kailua. She was placed in full commission on 5 May 1943 for service in the Southwest Pacific, and after about a year in the 7th Fleet Service Force she was ordered back from Milne Bay to Pearl Harbor in June 1944.

After the war the ship was supposed to be returned to her owner, but was in such poor condition that this could not be done. On 30 Jan 1946 Kailua was declared a total loss and was disposed of by sinking on 7 February that year. Recently (as of 2015) the wreck has been located 20 miles off Oahu, Hawaii, at a depth of 2000 feet.

Information on the disposition of the ship is from

Cableships Index Page

Last revised: 10 July, 2015

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