Russian Navy Disturbs Lithuanian Submarine Fiber Cable Installation


Lithuania claims that its submarine cable installation has been thwarted by the Russian Navy’s bullying behavior. The Russian navy has been accused of deliberately disrupting the construction of an undersea fiber optic cable and power cable that will connect Lithuania and Sweden.

Leading construction company ABB designed the cable system named NordBalt cable. This will be the world’s longest high voltage direct current extruded cable. Russia’s motivation to disturb the deployment of cables to Sweden is well known as it is expected that NordBalt cable will significantly reduce Lithuania’s reliance on Russia for energy once the installation is complete.

Lithuania says a Russian navy vessel has entered its territory four times over the last month, forcing the cable laying ship to change course. Lithuania summoned the Russian ambassador to lodge a formal protest. The cable is planned for 400 kilometers from Lithuania to Sweden. The cable laying ship named Topaz Installer is currently laying two high voltage direct current cables, each 50 km long, and a fiber optic cable. Deployment work has been started in April 2014 and is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.

The ship has been chased away from its work in separate incidents on 29 March, 10 April, 24 April and now 30 April as per Lithuanian newspapers.

The cable link is particularly important for Lithuania as the link will help to strengthen the security of the power supply in Lithuania and integrate an emerging joint Baltic electricity market with the Nordic and European markets. ABB has designed the link for integration into a future pan-European grid with the evolution of a DC grid concept under discussion around the world.

In the last 150km currently being laid the NordBalt cable will cross the NordStream gas pipeline. At the crossover point a special protective layer will be built over the pipeline and then the cable will be laid on top of this. To protect the cable against the damage caused by fishing equipment and anchors, water jet trenching is used to bury the cable one meter into the seabed. In places where the seabed is rocky, the cable is protected by rock dumping.

Lithuania is looking for US intervention, which it hopes will help to resolve the issue and completion of cable deployment as per the scheduled plan.

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