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Natural England, the Government’s advisory body for the natural environment in England, recently sent a delegation of 15 to visit Global Marine Systems Limited, the world leader in subsea system design, installation and maintenance, at its home port of Portland, Dorset, England. The aim of the visit was to gain a better understanding of the submarine cable industry to help with marine licence applications for power and telecommunications cable installations in UK waters.
Helping to protect England’s nature and landscapes, Natural England is an executive, non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). The team that visited Global Marine was made up of case officers and senior advisors, essentially the individuals who would be providing input to consultations related to marine licence applications for new UK cable installations within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit.
Hosting the delegation were John Wrottesley, Permitting Manager, and Maintenance Account Manager, Carlos Ferreira, both of Global Marine, while Glen Lipsham (BT) and Tony Fisk (Pelagian) also attended from Subsea Cables UK. Global Marine’s Depot Manager at Portland, Kevin Connor, conducted tours and demonstrations for the visitors. Indeed, he had also planned a tour of one of Global Marine’s primary maintenance vessels, Wave Sentinel, but she unfortunately received a call out to an emergency repair. This did, however, demonstrate in real-time the unpredictable nature of cable repairs, and the necessity to mobilise and attend a repair within short timeframes.
The day started with videos and presentations, providing a good background to the cable sector for the visitors from Natural England. This was followed by a tour of the ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) building, giving visitors the chance to see subsea equipment such as branching units, repeaters, ploughs, burial tools and the impressive new Q1000 power cable trenching ROV.
A subsequent tour of the cable building allowed the Natural England delegation to see the cable tanks, loading equipment, and the stores and spares associated with cable maintenance. They also got to see several sections of damaged cable that had been recovered, demonstrating the types of fault that can occur.
“The visit from Natural England proved to be very productive and engaging with lots of interesting questions raised and topics touched upon. I hope that the knowledge shared will assist with Natural England’s future decision making,” says John Wrottesley. “As always, seeing our subsea equipment and facilities in real life puts a tangible perspective on the enormity of the task when installing and maintaining subsea cable in the oceans around the globe.”
Maria Alvarez, Marine Operations Specialist at Natural England added: “These opportunities are very valuable as they improve our understanding of the industry’s requirements and constraints, it puts into perspective the information presented during applications. It also provides opportunities to strengthen our links with the industry.”