Escher.gif (426 bytes)

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

CCGS John Cabot / CS Certamen
by Bill Glover


Built in 1965 by Canadian Vickers, Montreal

Length 313.3 ft  Breadth 60.3 ft  Draught 34.2 ft  Gross tonnage 5097

Built as a dual purpose ice breaker/cable ship operated by the Canadian Coast Guard for COTC.

The original cable machinery was supplied by the Equipment Division of Submarine Cables Ltd., and was identical to that fitted in Alert (4). Three cable tanks with a capacity of 34400 cubic feet, equivalent to 400 nm of cable were fitted. In 1971 Dowty linear haul off/hold back gear was fitted to the forward cable engines.

Site visitor Les Whitehouse sends this note:

A major event during the laying of CANTAT 2 in August 1973 was the potential loss of the Vickers submersible Pisces III, which was burying cable and repeaters off Ireland when a hatch came adrift, stranding the unit and crew on the bottom at 1575 feet. The international rescue effort using USS Aerolus, its CURV diving robot, Vickers Voyager with Pisces II and V, RFA Sir Tristram, HMS Hecate and CCGS John Cabot is described in detail here.

The unit was finally raised to near the surface using the John Cabot drum engines and Dowty draw-off and hold-back gear until divers could add extra safety ropes before raising the vessel further. I was not on board any of the vessels at the time although I think that a service engineer of ours was on John Cabot keeping us informed.

The ship suffered a serious fire in 1974 and was subsequently refitted. Sold in 1994 to Teleglobe Consulting Co. Ltd., Montreal, with Cable & Wireless acting as managers. Sold again in 1996 to McDermott Subsea Services and sent to Teesside, UK, for refitting as a cable ship. Sold to Elettra s.p.A., Naples on completion and renamed Certamen. Operated by Italcable in the Mediterranean, laying cables manufactured by Pirelli.


1973 CANTAT 2 Canadian shore ends

The Ship Photos website has a page on the John Cabot.

Ships and Harbours has a photo and further information on Certamen
[archive site].

Cableships Index Page

Last revised: 9 April, 2021

Return to Atlantic Cable main page

Search all pages on the Atlantic Cable site:

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: