France Telecom cable ship abandoned after fire

France Telecom cable ship abandoned after fire

France Telecom-Orange has announced that the crew of the Chamarel, a cable maintenance vessel, have abandoned ship off the cost of Namibia after a fire.

The Chamarel was returning from a repair operation on the SAT-3/SAFE cable when the fire broke out. Despite the crew’s best efforts to control the fire the decision was made to abandon ship at around 8pm local time.

All 56 crew members were safely recovered by a Namibian fishing vessel with no injuries reported. They are now located at the Namibian port, Walvis Bay, and will be repatriated in the next few days.

"This is a very serious incident, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the crew members for their courage in managing the situation. The safety of our crew is our primary concern and we will look closely at the results of the investigation. I am also grateful for the support provided by the Namibian authorities," said Thierry Bonhomme, SVP in charge of networks & carriers, and R&D at France Telecom-Orange.

France Telecom said that the cause of the fire has not yet been established and a full investigation will take place as soon as the vessel is recovered. The carrier also insisted that the incident would have no immediate impact on submarine cables in the area.

The loss of the Chamarel will bring France Telecom’s total operational cable ships down to five. Of these, three are dedicated to maintenance and two to laying submarine cable systems worldwide.

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