Orange Marine’s cable ship René Descartes sailed around Cape Horn with the Fiber Optic Austral (FOA) cable, the southernmost submarine cable system in the world on 4th January. The ship made its trip to lay the fiber optic cable system on behalf of Chilean operator, CTR (.Comunicación y Telefonía Rural). The Orange Marine cable ship became the first and only cable ship in the world that can claim the title of a ‘True Cape Horner’.
René Descartes began its journey by laying submarine fiber optic cable for CTR, Chile. The submarine fiber optic cable system, Fiber Optic Austral has a landing point at Port Williams, which is a Chilean village is a southernmost port in the world, located on the banks of the Beagle canal in the extreme south of the South American continent. The crew (of around 70) took advantage of the relatively temperate austral summer to begin this world first project.
France based submarine cable installation company, Orange Marine’s cable ship Rene Descartes is on a mission to install the cable for Chile’s Austral submarine cable system connecting the southernmost parts of the country. Chinese fiber optic cable manufacturer Hengtong supplied the cable to the CTR. Rene Descartes started its journey from Shanghai port, China after loading the submarine fiber cable on to the ship.
Austral once completed the deployment would stretch 2,900 kilometers and would connect Puerto Montt to Punta Williams, with branches to Caleta Tortel and Punta Arenas. Huawei Marine was selected by CTR as the contractor for the project in October 2017.
The project is part of the Chilean government’s plans to improve Internet access in the remote south, which is comparatively underserved by existing telecommunications infrastructure.
The 2,900km undersea cable link will massively improve connectivity to the population in the Chilean part of the world. Chilean public services such as education and health will become more efficient, improving digital inclusion throughout the country. This cable will also offer greater opportunities for the country’s economic development when it comes to tourism as well as agriculture and e-commerce.
France’s Orange Marine has specialized in the field of submarine telecommunications infrastructure deployment. Orange Marine offers the initial design and engineering, installation of intercontinental & regional links, and maintenance of existing cables.
Orange Marine became a wholly owned subsidiary of Orange Group in 1999. Prior to that merger, it was known as FCR – France Cables and Radio, which was in operation since the mid-nineteenth century. The Orange Marine fleet is one of the most experienced in the world and represents 15% of the world fleet.
Orange Marine has installed more than 160,000 km of fiber-optic submarine cables in all oceans in total as of now. 18,000 km out of 160,000 km were of buried type. Orange Marine’s ships have carried out 550 repairs on routes, some of which at 5.500 meters of depth.