The telecoms operator is launching the construction of a maintenance vessel which it promises to be low-polluting.
It is an event in itself. Orange has decided to spend 50 million euros for the construction of a new vessel intended for the maintenance of submarine cables, these precious links which ensure the Internet connection between the continents. “The construction of a cable ship is rare. And this is the first time that a building dedicated to maintenance has been built ”, explains Jean-Luc Vuillemin, Director of Networks and International Services at Orange. Usually, it is old cable ships intended for laying that are converted into a maintenance vessel. However, these two operations do not require the same qualities, in particular in terms of engine power. By choosing a vessel dedicated to maintenance, Orange is also betting on a greener boat.
101 meters long, 18 meters wide, it will be able to embark a team of fifty-five men, sailors, technicians, underwater robot pilots (essential for locating and reassembling damaged cables) … The long tapered silhouette of this ship will help to make it less fuel-intensive, while sailing at twelve knots.
The future vessel, whose construction will begin in early 2021 and last two years, will be equipped with hybrid engines, which will drastically reduce its fuel consumption and therefore its environmental impact. Thus, its CO2 emissions will be 20% to 50% lower than those of older buildings. “This is mainly due to its streamlined hull and its hybrid engine architecture allowing work on a single generator set in operation with back-up batteries capable of taking over if necessary.», Explains Jean-Luc Vuillemin. It will also emit 80% nitrogen oxide (NOx) less than its predecessors. When the ship is docked, it will be supplied by the onshore electricity network. Finally, it is also a “zero waste” boat with recycling and storage systems on board.
Respect for the environment is at the heart of Orange’s concerns. But it is also a competitive advantage, as more and more countries are subjecting ships to new obligations before allowing them to enter their territorial waters. Orange Marine thus hopes that its new vessel will be able to intervene more quickly to repair the cables when called upon.
Last year, the four Orange cables dedicated to maintenance and repair carried out around fifty operations on submarine cables, torn off by trawls, victims of malicious acts … or swept away by sea slips. ground. “In March and April, at the mouth of the Congo River, off the West African coast, there were submarine landslides. Five cables were washed away. It was necessary to repair and quickly! Countries were deprived of internet connection», Relates Jean-Luc Vuillemin. And contrary to legend, sharks do not attack submarine cables!
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