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Galway Seabed Survey for Submarine Fibre Cable Between Iceland & Ireland

26th September 2020
The survey ship named Ridley is now exploring suitable seabed approaches from Galway out to the boundary of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ) The survey ship named Ridley is now exploring suitable seabed approaches from Galway out to the boundary of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ)

Iceland has selected Galway as the European landing location for international telecommunications cables.

Farice, a company fully owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It has been undertaking preparatory work for a new submarine fibre cable from Iceland to Europe since early 2019.

A survey ship named Ridley is now exploring suitable seabed approaches from Galway out to the boundary of the Irish exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The 58-metre Ridley Thomas (IMO: 8112744) is a Research/Survey Vessel built in 1981The 58-metre Ridley Thomas (IMO: 8112744) is a Research/Survey Vessel built in 1981

Farice chief executive officer Thorvardur Sveinsson said that “after careful consideration of many factors, Galway was selected by Farice as the European cable landing location”.

“The Icelandic landing site will be on the Reykjanes peninsula with the final location to be decided during the winter 2020/2021,” he said.

“ This coupled with Galway’s reputation for business, education and hospitality will lead to a win-win situation. The enhanced global activity provided by the system will be a catalyst for attracting high tech business to the city and the regions,” he said.

The company said the project could result in a new submarine fibre cable between Iceland and Ireland becoming operational within two years from financing being secured.

“Ireland has many important attributes that make it attractive as a destination for this new cable from Iceland, over and above the relatively short distance between the two countries,” Mr Sveinsson explained.

A map showing the new cable route between Iceland and Ireland that could be operational within two yearsIreland is at the nexus of new trans-Atlantic connections - A map showing the new cable route between Iceland and Ireland that could be operational within two years

“Ireland is at the nexus of new trans-Atlantic connections, is a centre of choice for European operations for many international businesses and has a rich and diverse pool of skilled labour in its workforce. Ireland has thus firmly established itself at the forefront of the development of Europe’s digital infrastructure and as such is an important connection point for a new submarine cable between Iceland and Europe,” he said.

“It is often perceived that international telecommunications are carried out by satellite. This is a common misconception and in reality, the vast majority of global communications is carried on fibre optic cables and particularly sub-sea cables,” he explained.

“The capacity of such cables is quite incredible and a single pair of fibre strands could satisfy the demands of most of Galway city,” he said.

“Due to the very high capacity of modern systems, subsea fibre cables are incredibly small in size (approx. 25mm diameter) and are very fast and non-intrusive to install. The overall benefits greatly outweigh the short-term inconvenience during the installation,” he said.

“The presence of the Farice system landing in Galway will provide direct high capacity links to Iceland but also to Northern Europe via Denmark and the UK and will greatly increase capacity and connectivity in Galway city and the regions,” he added.

The company currently operates the FARICE-1 cable between Iceland and Scotland with a branch connection to the Faroe Islands and the DANICE submarine cable between Iceland and Denmark.

A third submarine cable Greenland-Connect links Iceland to Canada and US. The Icelandic government said the fourth cable would “increase further the security and resiliency of Iceland’s international telecommunications.”

The new cable could cost up to €2 million during the research phase, with the actual laying estimated last year at around 32 million US dollars.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

Email The Author

Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004) on Irish helicopter search and rescue; and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010).

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Galway Port & Harbour

Galway Bay is a large bay on the west coast of Ireland, between County Galway in the province of Connacht to the north and the Burren in County Clare in the province of Munster to the south. Galway city and port is located on the northeast side of the bay. The bay is about 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and from 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) to 30 kilometres (19 miles) in breadth.

The Aran Islands are to the west across the entrance and there are numerous small islands within the bay.

Galway Port FAQs

Galway was founded in the 13th century by the de Burgo family, and became an important seaport with sailing ships bearing wine imports and exports of fish, hides and wool.

Not as old as previously thought. Galway bay was once a series of lagoons, known as Loch Lurgan, plied by people in log canoes. Ancient tree stumps exposed by storms in 2010 have been dated back about 7,500 years.

It is about 660,000 tonnes as it is a tidal port.

Capt Brian Sheridan, who succeeded his late father, Capt Frank Sheridan

The dock gates open approximately two hours before high water and close at high water subject to ship movements on each tide.

The typical ship sizes are in the region of 4,000 to 6,000 tonnes

Turbines for about 14 wind projects have been imported in recent years, but the tonnage of these cargoes is light. A European industry report calculates that each turbine generates €10 million in locally generated revenue during construction and logistics/transport.

Yes, Iceland has selected Galway as European landing location for international telecommunications cables. Farice, a company wholly owned by the Icelandic Government, currently owns and operates two submarine cables linking Iceland to Northern Europe.

It is "very much a live project", Harbourmaster Capt Sheridan says, and the Port of Galway board is "awaiting the outcome of a Bord Pleanála determination", he says.

90% of the scrap steel is exported to Spain with the balance being shipped to Portugal. Since the pandemic, scrap steel is shipped to the Liverpool where it is either transhipped to larger ships bound for China.

It might look like silage, but in fact, its bales domestic and municipal waste, exported to Denmark where the waste is incinerated, and the heat is used in district heating of homes and schools. It is called RDF or Refuse Derived Fuel and has been exported out of Galway since 2013.

The new ferry is arriving at Galway Bay onboard the cargo ship SVENJA. The vessel is currently on passage to Belem, Brazil before making her way across the Atlantic to Galway.

Two Volvo round world races have selected Galway for the prestigious yacht race route. Some 10,000 people welcomed the boats in during its first stopover in 2009, when a festival was marked by stunning weather. It was also selected for the race finish in 2012. The Volvo has changed its name and is now known as the "Ocean Race". Capt Sheridan says that once port expansion and the re-urbanisation of the docklands is complete, the port will welcome the "ocean race, Clipper race, Tall Ships race, Small Ships Regatta and maybe the America's Cup right into the city centre...".

The pandemic was the reason why Seafest did not go ahead in Cork in 2020. Galway will welcome Seafest back after it calls to Waterford and Limerick, thus having been to all the Port cities.

© Afloat 2020

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