NEC Beachmaster Takei-san brought the first buoy down the jetty to the staging area.

With the ceremony to mark the landing drawing near, there were smiling faces everywhere. From the left, BSCC Director Clarinda Ziegler, ADB Palau Rep Alfonsa Koshiba and BSCC Director Johvanna Yaoch.

Some chose to watch proceedings from a more relaxed vantage point.

The NEC crew were pretty happy with the way the shore end landing had been executed.

After an opening prayer led by Ngeremlengui Pastor, Mr Rengiil Medelarak, our host, Governor of Ngeremlengui State, Mary Frances Remenesgau, kicked things off. Her theme was how happy the people of Ngeremlengui were, to be able to contribute their seas and their land to this project, so vital to the future of the whole of Republic of Palau.

BSCC Chairman George Rechucher explained how this pivotal project milestone completed all the most risky elements of the project from a BSCC perspective. There were, he noted, still big project milestones ahead.

  • By July, all the power systems for the Cable Landing Station (mains, auxiliary diesel and back-up battery power) will be installed, ready for the CLS equipment.

  • In late August, the real deal arrives in Palau Waters. This is the specialist cable ship KDDI Pacific Link, which will pick up this PLSE we have landed today, and make the final splice.

  • Installation and testing will proceed through early November, when BSCC will make the system available to its customers ie the Palau Service Providers, for their testing.

  • In December, we light up the system, and Palau.

None of these huge milestones to come should overshadow the achievement of NEC and the BSCC Project Management Unit here today. The planning and execution has been flawless, delivering this milestone just three months after the decision to deploy a PLSE was taken. George also paid tribute to the two NEC subcontractors, the Strider owner and crew from Wakashio Marine; and the main shore-side crew, from Surangel.

Things were proceeding pretty much as expected. Below, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Industries and Commerce, Charles Obichang, a strong champion for the cable project, listens attentively.

Then a curly one comes from the floor.

Everyone knows things have just changed up.

All very well, and a fine achievement, but how do we know you are not going to spend all this money and still leave us with lousy services and high prices? At far left rear, Jon Vogt, BSCC PMU Environment specialist, waits attentively for the answer.

George pauses for effect. In mid-frame, Finance Minister Elbuchel Sadang, another BSCC champion, who was just about the first person I saw at the landing site when I arrived about 6:00 am, scrutinises the Chairman’s next move.

George notes that members of the Board of PNCC are here, and can explain better than he what the service providers will do with the fast, reliable, low cost, high speed bandwidth that BSCC will provide.

Even Ricky is impressed by the Chairman’s shimmy, though it looks like it could be a hospital pass.

Ngirturong of Ngeremlengui, John Sugiyama, the newly installed highest Chief of Ngeremlengui, appreciated the subtlety of the manoeuvre.

PNCC Director, Presley Etibek stepped up to the mic and explained how, while he could not speak for other service providers, PNCC was currently installing a 4G wireless network, which would be able to deliver the kinds of end user speed and quality of service enabled by BSCCnet. The network would be ready to go by December. It was neat footwork, absolutely the right answer, and Palauan smiles lit up again.

Then the small ceremony to mark the project milestone began. The first buoy was handed up to Takei-san of NEC, the Beachmaster.

Takei-san presented the buoy to Ngirturong John Sugiyama. BSCC and the Republic of Palau are grateful to the people of Ngeremlengui, who have offered every courtesy and assistance throughout, including organising and catering for the ceremony itself.

Ngirturong John and Takei-san in turn handed over to General Manager, Submarine Network Division, NEC Corporation, Toru Kawauchi. NEC executed the PLSE landing with awesome skill and precision.

Next, Kawauchi-san passed the buoy to Surangel Whipps Sr, representing Surangel and Son’s Construction. Surangel were superb in the civil works for the CLS site, the CLS installation and in the landing operation.

Richard Misech, of BSCC PMU, received the buoy from Surangel Sr. Mr Misech and the PMU on site team of Martin Blakely (wet) and Mike Gilbert (dry), have been indefatigable in running down every potential glitch, misalignment, miscommunication and misconception. Plus, Richard has been one of the primary visionaries of Palau telecommunications for decades, a visionary who is realising his vision.

All cable projects require a key ingredient that is maybe even more important than great engineering: money. Next in line was Asian Development Bank’s Alfonsa Koshiba, the Palau part of an ADB team that has made the project possible through loans to Republic of Palau.

Next, the buoy goes to BSCC Chairman, George Rechucher. George is another champion of BSCC, and is deeply involved in all the key decisions that have led to the realisation of the submarine cable connection.

Finally, Shania Samuel, a fifth grader at Ngeremlengui Elementary, took charge of the buoy.

Shania handed the buoy to Vice President Raynold B Oilouch. Shania’s future is in good hands. The President and Vice-President have led the charge on this project, using their offices to marshal resources. President Tommy Remengesau Jr was in NY with UN commitments.

The ceremony was over.

The work crews went back to work, after the delicious lunch provided by the Ngeremlengui people, with water and coconut to drink, and fish, taro and sweet potato. Guests hit the road back.

One of the local dogs was wondering whether it was worth checking out the leftover food situation.