GO successfully carries out submarine cable repairs

Last weekend, GO managed to complete an arduous mission to repair its submarine cable GO-1, landing in St. Paul’s Bay


Last weekend, GO managed to complete an arduous mission to repair its submarine cable GO-1, landing in St. Paul’s Bay. This is one of its three vital submarine cables that connect Malta to the rest of the world. The damage was not caused by natural wear and tear but by reckless human activity. After approximately eight months of complex coordination, the damaged cable was fixed last weekend after three intensive days of relentless work.

“Remarkably, this complex operation had zero impact on our customers, which demonstrates the company’s foresight over recent years when it invested in two additional submarine cables with a promise to minimize disruptions. The presence of these backup cables, in fact, is what ensured that connectivity remained uninterrupted during all these months,” explained Kelvin Camenzuli, Chief Digital Officer, at GO plc.

The financial commitment forced by this damage, was substantial, with costs exceeding €1.3 million and the whole operation saw the deployment of 1.5 kilometres of cable, 1500 meters of articulated pipe, 150 screw anchors, and 20 rock stoppers.

“The repair operation was a delicate one that demanded precise coordination and careful planning. Not only because it involved both land-based and underwater work, which also necessitated the deployment of specialized vessels from Greece, but because the damaged cable happened to be located within a designated Natura 2000 site. This further emphasized the need for meticulous attention to environmental preservation,” Camenzuli said.

The submarine cable in question is no stranger to adversity. Laid in a harsh marine environment, it is designed to withstand the harshest of conditions. However, the damage it suffered was not due to natural wear and tear but rather the result of human activity—an unfortunate occurrence that emphasized the importance of constant vigilance.

Geoffrey Cauchi, GO’s Networks Senior Manager explained how throughout the repair initiative - a collaborative effort involving various entities, including the Environment and Resources Authority, MEPA, Transport Malta, and the St Paul’s Bay Local Council amongst others – ensuring minimal disruption to the environment and the protection of sea life was of utmost importance.

“To achieve this, GO appointed an ERA Monitor who devised a meticulous Method of Procedure (MOP), which was approved by ERA to align with current requirements. Once the permit was granted, the operation commenced, culminating in the removal and collection of old cables, articulated pipes, and anchors to prevent environmental harm.”

Cauchi remarked that whilst GO's commitment to the protection of its cables is unwavering, these cables were never intended to endure uplift forces.

“Notwithstanding the fact that these cables are clearly earmarked on navigational charts so that boat owners in the proximity of these cables may avoid activities that could jeopardize these essential communication lifelines, evidence indicated that the cable had been pulled up and released abruptly, causing significant damage.”

“These cables provide a robust network, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity for all our customers and whenever one of these cables suffers damage, repairs are imperative to maintain the required capacity and protect the significant investments made,” Cauchi said.

Over the years, GO has made significant investments in three distinct and separate submarine cables—GO-TIS, GO-1, and PEACE— with the first two connecting Malta to Sicily, and the latter, to Marseille in France.

The magnitude of these repairs was considerable, both in terms of preparation and execution. Eight months of intensive planning and preparation preceded the three-day repair operation.

“As we head into October, the protection operation continues, with an estimated two weeks needed to complete it, weather permitting,” he added.

“Besides ensuring the protection of the delicate sea life in the area, the intricate eight-month operation that GO had to undertake, not only highlighted GO's unwavering commitment to keeping Malta connected but is a true reflection of its purpose to drive a digital Malta, where no one is left behind,” Camenzuli said.

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