Hengtong Marine is pleased to announce the successful completion of three separate repeatered cable sea trials and an unrepeatered cable sea trial, working in conjunction with Huawei Marine Networks (HMN), the supplier and integrator of the 2FPS and 6FPS repeaters and the power switching Branching
Unit (PSBU) and SBSS who supplied the CS “Fu Hai” as the selected Marine Installation Platform.
The surface lay deep water sea trial cable with in line 2FPS and 6FPS repeaters completed jointing and testing in the Hengtong Marine Integration Area and was loaded onto the CS Fu Hai at Hengtong Port, Changshu, in parallel with a shallow water armored cable plough burial trial also incorporating 2FPS and 6FPS repeaters. All three of the factory loading lines were operational simultaneously as an HV power cable load out onto another vessel was in progress at the same time.
The trial was completed during April / May 2017 during typical North Pacific weather conditions and constant sea swell conditions, over a period of 30 days. The worst weather encountered during the trial period was Force 7, Sea State 6, and a wave height of 3m.
The deep water trials cable was manufactured using HORC-1 LW and LWP cable types and involved the deployment of both cable types, 2FPS and 6FPS housings, and two universal joints. The surface lay trials were completed in 5,000m water depth, some 300 nautical miles East of Amami-O Shima, Japan, in weather conditions reported as Force 6 winds, Sea State 5, with a wave height of 2.5m. The cable exhibited stable optical and electrical parameters in addition to good insulation resistance throughout the marine operations.
The plough burial trials cable was manufactured using HORC-1 SAL, SA and DA cable types and similarly involved the burial of all cable types, 2FPS and 6FPS repeater bodies, and two universal joints. The plough burial operations were completed in 500m water depth, some 112 nautical miles WNW of Amami-O Shima, Japan, and used a SMD MD3 cable plough to achieve a burial depth in excess of 1.5 meters. The weather conditions during operations were reported as Force 4 winds, Sea State 4, with a wave height of 2.5m. The cable optical & electrical parameters were tested during deployment, for stability on the sea bed and also during cable recovery operations.
The final sea trial included the HMN PSBU which was deployed and recovered in a water depth of 4,000m using lightweight cables recovered from the 5,000m water depth surface lay trial. The robust mechanical performance and optical & electrical performance of the HORC products has been proven during this exercise. The weather conditions during the BU trial were reported as Force 5 winds, Sea State 4, with a wave height of 3m.
The sea trials were independently witnessed and reported by Captain David H. Foster (a former cable ship Commander with 43 years’ experience laying and repairing submarine cables worldwide) who commented on the deep-water trials, “Weather during the trial was moderate, and a fair representation of the weather conditions under which a cable lay would take place. From my observations, I consider this Hengtong HORC-1 LW and LWP to be robust, durable, and in all ways fit for purpose”.
For the plough burial trials, he said, “The ploughed cable trial was a realistic test of the rigors HORC-1 SAL, SA, and DA cable would experience in a genuine ploughed cable lay. All three cable types handled with ease, coiled well, and showed no sign of twisting, and showed no memory at all. I can therefore say with confidence, that Hengtong HORC-1 SAL, SA and DA cables are of excellent quality and are in every way fit for purpose.”
The 24-fibre unrepeatered cable trials used HOUC-1 SAL, SA, and DA cable types and involved the deployment and burial of all cable types with two universal quick joints to a depth of burial in excess of 1.5 meters. The plough burial operations were completed in 500m water depth, some 112 nautical miles WNW of Amami-O Shima, Japan, and used the SMD MD3 cable plough. The weather conditions during plowing operations were reported as Force 4 winds, Sea State 4, with a wave height of 2.5m.
The cable exhibited stable optical parameters in addition to good insulation resistance throughout the marine operations.
Captain David F. Foster stated “The ploughed cable trial was a realistic test of the rigors HOUC-1 SAL, SA and DA cable would experience in a genuine ploughed cable lay. All three cable types handled with ease, coiled well and showed no sign of twisting, and showed no memory at all. The SAL experienced a particularly hard test, having been launched and recovered five times with the same length of cable through the plough during deployment. Despite this rugged test of its durability, it subsequently tested good, and was successfully laid, ploughed, and recovered in 500 meters water depth. All tests were satisfactory. I can therefore say with confidence, that HMCS HOUC-1 SAL, SA and DA cables are of excellent quality and in every way fit for purpose.”
Adapted from: Hengtong Marine Press Releases
ANALYSIS: The CS “Fu Hai” took two days to load the various Hengtong cables to be trialed at Changsu April 11-13, 2017 and then spent 25 days at sea performing the trials.
Overall, it appears that the trials went well, although there appears to be some implied qualification in Captain Forster’s carefully chosen words regarding the unrepeatered light single armored cable which was launched multiple times.
Nevertheless, this is a major step forward for Hengtong Marine in their efforts to break into the international submarine fiber optic market. Hengtong Marine has been supplying submarine cable for domestic purposes in China for some time. In the international market, they have, so far, held onto the coat tails of Chinese system supplier, Huawei Marine.
Hengtong Marine’s web site states that the overall production capacity (all submarine cable types) in 2016 was expanded to 6,000 km. If all of the production was submarine fiber optic cable, this would represent around a 5% increase in the world’s total production capacity. Compared to the recently announced 50% capacity increase in TE SubCom’s Newington, NH cable manufacturing plant, Hengtong Marine’s additional contribution is not going to move the market. However, Hengtong’s geographic location is of strategic advantage because the only other cable manufacturer in Asia, which is the region exhibiting the strongest growth in demand for submarine fiber connectivity, is OCC in Japan which is used exclusively by its owner, NEC. If Hengtong Marine starts to win projects with Huawei Marine or, indeed, with other suppliers, they will probably invest in additional manufacturing capacity.
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Julian Rawle, Author
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