SUBSEA CABLE SPECIAL 2014: Cable protection advice from the ICPC

10 March 2014 | Guy Matthews


The International Cable Protection Committee (ICPC) is a lobby group specialising in the security of underwater infrastructure. It offers guidance to stakeholders in the subsea cable sector.

Advice for cable owners
The ICPC says cable operators should always conduct surveys to find the safest cable route, and not just the most economical. Operators should seek to bury cables into the seabed where possible. Once laid, they should maintain awareness programmes and provide 24/7 telephone support so that the crew of any ship in the cable’s vicinity can seek guidance.

Advice for governments
Governments should educate vessel owners about the importance of subsea cables. They need to implement tougher protection regimes and consider the creation of cable protection zones. Above all, they must see that international law on the matter is respected.

Advice on piracy
A small but possibly growing threat to subsea cables comes from pirates, terrorists and thieves. The ICPC wants to see a protocol developed among relevant agencies to provide a fast and co-ordinated response in the event of pirate attacks on cables. There should be a single point of contact for cable owners to call in an emergency. Naval forces should be deployed to help protect cables. There also needs to be clearer international law to protect international cable systems and cable ships from hostile acts committed by pirates or terrorists.