news Basslink has announced that it has pinpointed and removed a fault in the telecoms cable linking to Tasmania and Victoria, but warned that the deadline for a resumption of normal services has been pushed back to June.
After months of work, the fault was finally identified in an interconnector at a point just over 90km from the Tasmanian coastline and was removed on Easter Sunday, 27 March, according to a company statement.
The cable failed last December leaving Tasmania unable to import or export power as well as having issues with telecommunications.
The cause of the fault is yet to be determined, and will undergo forensic testing with this aim, Basslink added.
“The analysis process, which saw us cut the cable 1150m from the fault, has been encouraging,” said Basslink CEO Malcolm Eccles. “This represents a difference of only 0.4% of Basslink’s entire cable length, which is a great result and vindicates the extent of testing and analysis undertaken.”
“The team has worked hard over the last few days clearing around 63 tonnes of cable to ensure it does not interfere with the later phases of repair operations. We have also conducted extensive tests to confirm the removal of the fault and that the cable is ready for jointing, with both ends of the cable now capped and on the sea bed,” Eccles explained.
Initial findings have revealed that water ingress into the cable through the fault means more damaged cable than expected will need replacing, and will further require the insertion of a third joint.
“In simple terms, water got in and damaged the cable – this now needs to be removed,” Basslink said.
The discovery now means additional work is required to restock the repair vessel with cable to allow completion of the jointing phase, and has forced Basslink to push back the return-to-service date to mid-June, allowing for issues such as poor weather. Normal services had been expected to resume in March.
The firm pointed out that jointing works are “highly susceptible” to weather conditions, as each joint will require a “continuous clear weather period” to allow it to be safely completed.
Basslink’s cable repair vessel, the Ile de Ré, will soon return to Geelong, Victoria, where it will spend the next 10 days preparing for the next repair phase. During this time, the firm will reconfigure the vessel’s layout, load around 100 tonnes of cable and add extra cable jointing experts to the repair team.
The firm said will continue to update its key stakeholders, Hydro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government, of the repair activities on a “regular basis”.
The Tasmanian Government recently expressed its disappointment over service issues for some Internet users following the cutting of the Basslink cable, with customers of TPG (including iiNet, Internode and Netspace) suffering severe delays to their Internet speeds.
At the time, the government said it had spoken to affected ISPs “urging them to buy more capacity on the remaining Telstra cables”, according to Michael Ferguson, Tasmania’s Minister for Information Technology and Innovation.