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Marine / Subsea cable fault took place a few kilometres off Shetland, telecoms chief says

A repair ship is due to arrive on site in the coming days

The SHEFA-2 cable network. Image: TeleGeography

THE FAULT on the subsea cable which disrupted communications last week happened around two to three kilometres off Shetland, it has been confirmed.

Meanwhile a ship may begin work on fully repairing the cable tomorrow (Wednesday), although this has not been finalised.

The fibre optic cable is part of Faroese Telecom’s SHEFA-2 network, which links Faroe, Shetland, Orkney and the Scottish mainland.

The fault which disrupted internet and phone connectivity in Shetland on Thursday was on the cable which runs between the isles and Orkney.

It happened to come after a fault on the Shetland-Faroe cable the week prior – while a third fault was also reported on that section in September.

All incidents are believed to be accidents involving fishing vessel gear.

Faroese Telecom managing director Páll Højgaard Vesturbú said the fault on the cable south of Shetland actually happened relatively close to land.

It had been reported elsewhere that the fault happened east of Orkney, but Vesturbú clarified that it was only a few kilometres off Shetland.

He also told Shetland News that the assumption around the fishing vessel stems from AIS marine tracking of boats in the area at the time.

The link from Faroe was recently fixed with the help of the ship Cable Vigilance, and that vessel is set to head to waters off Shetland repair the latest fault.

“We are preparing to repair the cable down to Orkney, and also to do some protection work on the other cable,” he said on Tuesday.

“The work will depend on what the weather allows.”

Vesturbú also said the SHEFA-2 cable – which runs into Maywick from Faroe, and departs Shetland from Sandwick – is buried in the seabed where possible.

He said that the state of the seabed can change over time, though.

Vesturbú added: “The cables are well marked on all charts, because all vessels should be able to keep clear of the cables.

“That’s the only reason they are really on the charts, otherwise they wouldn’t be there.”

Read more about how IT experts dealt with Shetland’s loss of communication here.

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