French telecom giant Orange SA has unveiled its latest vessel to help maintain global internet connectivity.
The Sophie Germain. Image source: Orange
The telecom company launched a €50 million ($53 million) vessel, the Sophie Germain, to repair undersea internet cables across the Mediterranean, Red, and Black Seas.
Rapid response capability: The 100-meter-long ship can be dispatched within 24 hours of a cable fault report, and is equipped with an underwater robot that can dive down 3,000 meters to locate damaged cables, and swiftly retrieve, repair, and reposition them, which takes around three days.
Furthermore, the ship is slated to conduct approximately one repair mission each month, catering to clients including Meta Platforms Inc., Telecom Italia Spa, and China Telecom Corp. It will help maintain the 70,000 km (43,000 miles) of cable that allows internet traffic to flow between Europe, Africa, and Asia.
Orange Marine, a subsidiary of Orange SA, with a track record in repairing undersea internet cables, possesses seven of the 50 or so cable ships scattered across the globe. Located in La Seyne-Sur-Mer, South of France, it is positioned between China, the United States, and Africa, while maintaining proximity to crucial internet cable landing points like Marseille, Genoa, and Barcelona.
Zoom out: Cable damage is most often caused by fishing activity, although sometimes earthquakes and rockfalls are to blame. In August, two undersea cables that connect South Africa to the global network broke due to a rockfall in the Congo Canyon.