Basslink completes cable repairs, enters final testing stage


news The undersea power and telecoms cable linking Victoria to Tasmania has been repaired, according to its operator, Basslink.

In a statement the company said that the “third and final joint” of the cable has now been fixed and “successfully tested”.

The bight – an extra length of cable that assists lifting and laying of the main cable – has also been deployed and the full length of the repaired cable is currently on the seabed, Basslink said.

The next stage of the recovery process will be a series of land-based tests of both the electricity interconnector and the fibre optic cable, as well as all associated equipment on either side of Bass Strait. This is expected to begin “shortly”.

The cable repair vessel is currently in Bell Bay, Tasmania, while the crew is changed ahead of the reburial of the cable.

Both the tests and reburial of the cable are expected to be conducted “over the next week”, with the aim being to return the electricity interconnector and the telecommunications cable to full service before the end of June.

The company added that this date is subject to any delays due to “unforeseen circumstances”.

Basslink’s CEO Malcolm Eccles said it was “a relief” that the weather conditions had allowed this final period of jointing work to be completed with “minimal interruption”.

He further recognised the “enormous efforts” of the repair team, saying: “There has been well over 100 people working incredibly hard at sea and on land to rectify the fault. It has been an extremely challenging six months, and we are grateful to have had such a committed team working with us.”

“Subject to some final testing and satisfactory weather conditions, we will rebury the cable in the next few days, and re-commission our converter stations at George Town and Loy Yang with a view to return both the electricity interconnector and the telecommunications cable to service as soon as possible,” said Eccles.

Basslink said it continues to update its key stakeholders, Hydro Tasmania and the Tasmanian Government, of the status of the repair “on a regular basis”.

An investigator from Hydro Tasmania has also been present on the cable repair vessel for “much of its time at sea”, the firm added.

The Basslink cable failed in December of last year, leaving Tasmania unable to import or export power, as well as having serious issues with telecommunications services provided over the cable.