NWCS repair shipNWCS repair ship

North-West Cable System undergoes urgent maintenance to keep customers connected

Vocus’ team of experts at our Operations Command Centre actively monitor our network 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Recently, the team detected an issue on our North-West Cable System (NWCS), that required an immediate response to keep customers connected.

Using our advanced monitoring systems, the Australian-based Network Operations team was able to pinpoint the precise location of the issue on the NWCS, a critical submarine fibre cable that supports a number of companies in Australia’s onshore and offshore resources industry.

Extending 2,100kms from Darwin to Port Hedland, the NWCS connects Australia’s remote northern and western regions, including offshore oil and gas facilities, with onshore locations.

The team detected an issue on a section of cable deep in the ocean more than 500km west of Darwin, located in a large submarine canyon. This canyon is about 50m x 300m in size and drops down at ~45 degrees, making it a tricky spot to locate and reach. Although the cable section was still functioning, the monitoring system alerted the team to the damage.

To avoid the cable going down and interrupting Shell’s Prelude LNG platform and Inpex’s Ichthys LNG platform, the team immediately embarked on proactive repairs.

This allowed us to give our customers plenty of notice to make alternate arrangements, switch to their satellite backup series, and continue operating without interruption.

Repairing a submarine cable such as NWCS can be a challenging operation at the best of times, with the cable needing to be powered down from both ends, and control being handed to the repair vessel, before being handed back and powered up again.

Our best estimate was that the work required to replace the damaged section with new heavily armoured cable would take around seven days. In good news for our customers, the careful planning and efforts by repair crews working shifts 24x7 meant we were able to complete the repairs in just five days, restoring services two days early, resulting in a great outcome by the team for our customers.

Learn more about our North-West Cable System.

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Reliance, the fibre cable vessel sent to repair the NWCS.

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Crews haul the NWCS aboard for inspection and repairs.

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Harmless marine life on the NWCS from the bottom of the ocean.

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The damaged section of the NWCS on Reliance for repairs.