Houthi’s Cut Submarine Cables – Updated

 

This is a story that doesn’t seem to be getting any attention. I don’t know enough about telecommunications to evaluate the damage, but it seems serious to me. There doesn’t seem to be a prospect of repairing these cables anytime soon, either.

From cf.org:

3 submarine cables cut in the Red Sea between Jeddah and Djibouti. AAE-1, EIG and SEACOM/TGN-Eurasia are down. Note: Authorities looking at potential terror link.

Confirmed: Submarine cables cut by Houthis in Yemen waters.

To repair the cables, need permission from Yemen to enter their waters

Insurance companies have canceled insurance for cable ships to ply in Yemen waters

No maintenance cable ships willing to do repairs

Cable ships cost $60-&100 million each. Who will take the risk?

On December 24th, 2023, a Telegram channel linked to the Houthis published a map showing the networks of submarine communications cables in the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea, the Arabian Sea, and the Persian Gulf. The image was accompanied by an ominous message: “There are maps of international cables connecting all regions of the world through the sea. It seems that Yemen is in a strategic location, as internet lines that connect entire continents — not only countries—pass near it.”

I like the part about Yemen being in a strategic location.

The map at the article does indeed show many undersea cables transit the Red Sea, in the immediate vicinity of the Houthis. The potential for destruction is large. I’m curious as to why this hasn’t drawn more interest. Am I looking in the wrong places?

There are 3 cables specifically mentioned as being cut. Here is a link for each one showing its path and connected nodes.

AAE-1 (Asia Africa Europe-1)

EIG (Europe India Gateway)

SEACOM/TGN-Eurasia

Surprising to me is how many cables connect to Djibouti. It looks to have more than any African location except for Egypt. Most of the connections between Europe and Asia run past Yemen. Again, amazing potential for damage here. Perhaps these cuts will galvanize some action by… I don’t know.  Operation Prosperity Guardian? Anyone?

Update: Via Zerohedge, this article in Globes stated a fourth cable has been cut.

This is causing serious disruption of Internet communications between Europe and Asia, with the main damage being felt in the Gulf countries and India.

Estimates are that the damage to communications activities is significant but not critical because other cables pass through the same region linking Asia, Africa and Europe that have not been hit.

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  1. Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Lower Order Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    L

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a “Submarine Cable?”

    I will forego the smart-alec responses. A submarine cable is simply a telephone or data cable that is laid under the water. Started with a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1858.

    Oh, thanks! I was aware of those. The term “submarine” was making me think this had something to do with military submarines and I was trying to figure out why they would be in the Mediterranean. I’ve always heard them referred to as underwater communication cables, like the one that washed up on shore at Gilligan’s Island!

    Undersea, underwater, submerged, trans-oceanic (what, do they think it floats?)… I don’t get why people would use “submarine” instead.

    For the same reason we call those tubes that hold people submarines.

    Not really the same reason. Submarines are SOMETIMES submerged, and have independent propulsion and crews etc. Undersea cables are ALWAYS submerged, and have NO propulsion nor crews.

    They don’t end underwater. Besides, the Navy already had one long name. Another long name would have been more than the Navy could handle. Mostlysubmarine.

    The underwater cables are permanently under water. The ends are not underwater cables, obviously. The underwater parts are the underwater cables. The whole things might be considered trans-oceanic etc, but only the parts under water are underwater cables.

    I think the ends are submarine cables.  Regrettably above water.  They are the same construction and imperviousness as the underwater part.  They are just, by the unfortunate luck of the spooling, not capable of fulfilling their highest potential for which they were constructed.  Which is probably a war crime.

    • #31
  2. Archibald Campbell Member
    Archibald Campbell
    @ArchieCampbell

    If you have some time and can find it, Neal Stephenson wrote a long piece in Wired about them in 1996 Called “Mother Earth Mother Board.”  It’s at Wired, but you gotta pay: http://www.wired.com/1996/12/ffglass/.  It’s fascinating.  There’s an even longer version in his book Some Remarks.

    • #32
  3. Red Herring Coolidge
    Red Herring
    @EHerring

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    L

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a “Submarine Cable?”

    I will forego the smart-alec responses. A submarine cable is simply a telephone or data cable that is laid under the water. Started with a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1858.

    Oh, thanks! I was aware of those. The term “submarine” was making me think this had something to do with military submarines and I was trying to figure out why they would be in the Mediterranean. I’ve always heard them referred to as underwater communication cables, like the one that washed up on shore at Gilligan’s Island!

    Undersea, underwater, submerged, trans-oceanic (what, do they think it floats?)… I don’t get why people would use “submarine” instead.

    For the same reason we call those tubes that hold people submarines.

    Not really the same reason. Submarines are SOMETIMES submerged, and have independent propulsion and crews etc. Undersea cables are ALWAYS submerged, and have NO propulsion nor crews.

    They are under the sea. Don’t let pedantry lure you into stupidity.

    Then call them undersea cables, not submarine.

    Of gee, first they remove Greek and Latin from schools and then we have to lower our vocabulary a few grade levels. 

    • #33
  4. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    L

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a “Submarine Cable?”

    I will forego the smart-alec responses. A submarine cable is simply a telephone or data cable that is laid under the water. Started with a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1858.

    Oh, thanks! I was aware of those. The term “submarine” was making me think this had something to do with military submarines and I was trying to figure out why they would be in the Mediterranean. I’ve always heard them referred to as underwater communication cables, like the one that washed up on shore at Gilligan’s Island!

    Undersea, underwater, submerged, trans-oceanic (what, do they think it floats?)… I don’t get why people would use “submarine” instead.

    For the same reason we call those tubes that hold people submarines.

    Not really the same reason. Submarines are SOMETIMES submerged, and have independent propulsion and crews etc. Undersea cables are ALWAYS submerged, and have NO propulsion nor crews.

    They are under the sea. Don’t let pedantry lure you into stupidity.

    Then call them undersea cables, not submarine.

    Of gee, first they remove Greek and Latin from schools and then we have to lower our vocabulary a few grade levels.

    That’s the mechanism of it, isn’t it. Better that the more advanced mind be held back to accommodate the lesser. Every time.

    • #34
  5. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    L

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a “Submarine Cable?”

    I will forego the smart-alec responses. A submarine cable is simply a telephone or data cable that is laid under the water. Started with a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1858.

    Oh, thanks! I was aware of those. The term “submarine” was making me think this had something to do with military submarines and I was trying to figure out why they would be in the Mediterranean. I’ve always heard them referred to as underwater communication cables, like the one that washed up on shore at Gilligan’s Island!

    Undersea, underwater, submerged, trans-oceanic (what, do they think it floats?)… I don’t get why people would use “submarine” instead.

    For the same reason we call those tubes that hold people submarines.

    Not really the same reason. Submarines are SOMETIMES submerged, and have independent propulsion and crews etc. Undersea cables are ALWAYS submerged, and have NO propulsion nor crews.

    They are under the sea. Don’t let pedantry lure you into stupidity.

    Then call them undersea cables, not submarine.

    Of gee, first they remove Greek and Latin from schools and then we have to lower our vocabulary a few grade levels.

    That’s the mechanism of it, isn’t it. Better that the more advanced mind be held back to accommodate the lesser. Every time.

    What’s wrong with “undersea?”  Just that it’s not Latin somehow?  Would you be happier, feeling all superior and stuff, with “subaqueanus?”  If Latin is so great, why weren’t you using that to start with?

    I remember reading a book some time ago and a couple of the characters were discussing naming animals.  They brought up the skunk, and one guy knew the Latin version of their scientific name.  When asked what it meant, he said something like “uhhh… ‘smelliest of the smelly.'”

    So, YAY Latin!  That’s just so very sophisticated!

     

    Oh, and, of course:

    • #35
  6. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Barfly (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Red Herring (View Comment):

    L

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald (View Comment):

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is a “Submarine Cable?”

    I will forego the smart-alec responses. A submarine cable is simply a telephone or data cable that is laid under the water. Started with a telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1858.

    Oh, thanks! I was aware of those. The term “submarine” was making me think this had something to do with military submarines and I was trying to figure out why they would be in the Mediterranean. I’ve always heard them referred to as underwater communication cables, like the one that washed up on shore at Gilligan’s Island!

    Undersea, underwater, submerged, trans-oceanic (what, do they think it floats?)… I don’t get why people would use “submarine” instead.

    For the same reason we call those tubes that hold people submarines.

    Not really the same reason. Submarines are SOMETIMES submerged, and have independent propulsion and crews etc. Undersea cables are ALWAYS submerged, and have NO propulsion nor crews.

    They are under the sea. Don’t let pedantry lure you into stupidity.

    Then call them undersea cables, not submarine.

    Of gee, first they remove Greek and Latin from schools and then we have to lower our vocabulary a few grade levels.

    That’s the mechanism of it, isn’t it. Better that the more advanced mind be held back to accommodate the lesser. Every time.

    What’s wrong with “undersea?” Just that it’s not Latin somehow? Would you be happier, feeling all superior and stuff, with “subaqueanus?” If Latin is so great, why weren’t you using that to start with?

    You’re the one who started the exchange by questioning/objecting to “submarine”.

    I am sure that everyone else on this thread will happily and quietly accept whichever commonly used term an author chooses, as the meaning will be instantly clear. (Although “infra mare” will cause us to suspect “recondite” intentions.)

    There are lots of terms which somebody might object to for some picayune reason, but the fact remains that those are the terms that somehow became generally accepted. Generally accepted nomenclature is generally accepted and it’s a waste of time to object.

    • #36
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    Generally accepted nomenclature is generally accepted and it’s a waste of time to object.

    That was actually my original point.  I’ve never seen/heard undersea cables referred to as “submarine” until now.

    Perhaps just another east coast/west coast thing.

    • #37
  8. Steven Seward Member
    Steven Seward
    @StevenSeward

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    Generally accepted nomenclature is generally accepted and it’s a waste of time to object.

    That was actually my original point. I’ve never seen/heard undersea cables referred to as “submarine” until now.

    Perhaps just another east coast/west coast thing.

    Maybe “submarine” is a new term for these cables.  This New York Times article gives a fascinating look into how they are manufactured and laid at sea.  Nowhere in the article does the word “submarine” appear.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/10/technology/internet-cables-oceans.html

    • #38
  9. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Steven Seward (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    Generally accepted nomenclature is generally accepted and it’s a waste of time to object.

    That was actually my original point. I’ve never seen/heard undersea cables referred to as “submarine” until now.

    Perhaps just another east coast/west coast thing.

    Maybe “submarine” is a new term for these cables. This New York Times article gives a fascinating look into how they are manufactured and laid at sea. Nowhere in the article does the word “submarine” appear.

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/03/10/technology/internet-cables-oceans.html

    Yep, and I noticed:  (emphasis added)

    Internet cables in service by 2021

     

    “Undersea” appears a total of 11 times.  As you note, “submarine” not even once.

    And the telephone-type cables, which have been around much longer, were even larger.

    • #39
  10. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Lesson learned. If you want a pedant to pedantiddle all over the floor, all you have to do is call him out for it.

    • #40
  11. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    If you want a better idea of the frequency of use of various terms, here are two samples:

    • #41
  12. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Great, now do undersea/under-sea, and underwater/under-water.

    • #42
  13. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Do it yourself.

    • #43
  14. Steve Fast Member
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    Internet's Hank (View Comment):

    Lunchbox Gerald: This is causing serious disruption of Internet communications between Europe and Asia, with the main damage being felt in the Gulf countries and India.

    This sounds like a ‘them’ problem rather than a ‘us’ problem. I’d like to see India come down on them like Shiva on a bender.

    It’s a “them” problem until they realize that there are no consequences for any terrorist actions and they start cutting our cables. Then it’s an “us” problem.

    It’s a lot easier and cheaper in blood and treasure for a coalition of the good guys to nip this sort of thing in the bud. Unfortunately, it’s already gone beyond the nipping-it-in-the-bud stage when we failed to whack Iran after the Houthis hit the first ship.

    • #44
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