Ready for the Pre-Lay Shore End

Last week the cable for the Pre-Lay Shore End (PLSE) was loaded on board the Strider in Japan.

A Shinto Prayer Ceremony was conducted, with sake from BSCC, NEC and KCS (the NEC marine contractors, who have chartered the Strider), dedicated to the Shinto Gods for safe operations in Palau. BSCC was represented by Nishikawa-san, our submarine cable engineer in Japan. Here are the priests who conducted the ceremony on 25th June:

The cable is tested before the load, after the load, once again when it is being laid and again when it is connected to the main Palau cable spur of 210 km to the sea-us cable trunk, for onward transport of Palau traffic to Guam. A similar ceremony will be conducted when the spur cable loading is in progress, at the end of July. Nishikawa-san is responsible for pre and post-load Purchaser testing in Japan, and is also representing FSM in the Purchaser testing role. The two FSM spurs will be loaded at the same time as Palau, which saves both nations overall system construction cost.

Meanwhile, the schedule required the Cable Landing Station (CLS) and the associated civil work, including massive armoured ducts from the beach bulkhead to the beach man-hole (BMH), more ducts from the BMH to the CLS cable entry points and sub-ducting for the sea-earth, ground-earth and station-earths. All this work has been completed on time, a credit to BSCC’s civil works contractor, Surangel and Son’s Construction.

Here is a vista of the CLS site looking towards the beach:

Below, Richard Misech, the BSCC Project Management Unit’s Palau Engineer, points out the cable entry points in the CLS. Behind him are the racks of batteries for the back-up power system, which provides 4 hours of operation.

The CLS is currently running on mains power. Palau Public Utilities Corporation have been very helpful in organising the power connection. In mid-June a generator arrives. Flexenclosure engineers are returning to Palau to complete installation of the auxiliary diesel power system. So we have back-up for our backup, as it should be for critical national infrastructure. All is in readiness for the arrival of the Strider, with seven kilometres of cable for the shore end on board, to be laid out from the shore end through the West Passage. Strider also carries the 300 metres of steel articulated pipe that will protect the cable in the shallow water out from the shore. The cable will be left on the sea floor outside the passage, to be retrieved by the KDDI specialist cable ship, the Pacific Link. Pacific Link, at 120 metres and 20 metres wide, is too large to manoeuvre in the West Passage.

The NEC team has started arriving in Palau, some familiar faces and some new ones. At Cable Coordination Meeting #6 in Koror last Thursday, 1st June, we went through the whole PLSE schedule in detail, focusing on the final actions required, with Strider already under way. In the afternoon we re-assembled out at Ngeremlengui to sort out the final details of the operation. Everything is set to go. Happy faces on some of the team who travelled out to the site by boat testify to the fact that no significant risks have been identified, Mason Whipps at the helm and Miwa-san and Takei-san of NEC at each shoulder.

Below, a reminder of just how beautiful Palau can be, the view looking out to the work boat port side for the NEC and Surangel teams returning from Ngeremlengui:

And, below, the view from Malakal this morning, as the Strider approached the dock:

Now that is another beautiful sight, just after dawn on the 3rd June. The 65 metre Strider, while still a most impressive vessel, has only to carry the 7 km shore end, and while superbly equipped, with the precision controls and thrusters fore and aft required to do the job, is a Multipurpose Vessel. Of course, it is one heck of a work boat. Here is the view from the Strider’s operational bridge:

The double armoured PLSE cable is coiled in the round storage facility. What appear to be stacks of tyres on the port side are in fact inflated inner tubes, to be used as buoys to float the cable in the last few hundred metres to the shore.

We remain bang on schedule to be in service in December 2017.