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Two ships whose anchors damaged an undersea cable in the Gulf have been traced by the cable operating company using satellite imagery. The owners of one vessel have paid compensation for the damage caused, and the second remains impounded by Dubai port authorities.
The Hindu of India (where cable company Reliance is headquartered) reported last week that company officials said they had identified the ships and located both in Dubai.
"The matter has been brought to the notice of appropriate authorities which are taking necessary action," a company officer told The Hindu.
The Khaleej Times reported on Friday that an officer of the Korean-owned MT Ann had admitted liability, and the owners had paid $60,000 compensation to Reliance. The Ann has now been released.
The other vessel, MV Hounslow, remains impounded. The Hounslow is said to be Iraqi owned, and it appears that her captain was not on board when the vessel was seized by Dubai coastguards and police. Two crewmembers who were present have been arrested. Some $350,000 is sought in the case of the Hounslow, which is accused by Reliance of having abandoned its anchor after having tried and failed to get it free of the cable.
Alleged fiber-optic cable thieves could face death
Police have filed charges against three ship captains arrested last month for stealing undersea fiber-optic cables off the coast of southern Vietnam.
In all, 43 km of cables have gone missing from two lines in Vietnamese waters this year.
Police in the southern Ba Ria Vung Tau Province Friday asked prosecutors to indict Tran Van Hoang, 46, Tran Van Ke, 42 and Nguyen Dang Quang, 40, on the charge of “destroying major public national security projects,” which carries the death sentence.
Their three ships - all owned by a local businesswoman - were found by the coast guard some 180 km offshore last month. The vessels were holding tons of cables and cutting equipment including saws and ropes.
One of the ships was carrying over 50 tons of cable cut into 1.5-5m sections.
The three captains confessed that they began stealing the cables in March this year.
Eleven kilometers of the TVH (Thailand-Vietnam-Hong Kong) line and 32 km of the APCN (Asia Pacific Cable Network), linking nine Asian countries, have been stolen.
Now, only one undersea cable – the SMW3 – the world’s longest fiber-optic line, 39,000km (from Germany to Australia and Japan) that connects Vietnam with the rest of the world via the Middle East and Western Europe.
The theft may be partly attributed to the Ba Ria Vung Tau government’s decree last year permitting soldiers and fishermen to haul up unused cables laid before 1975 to sell as scrap.
Amidst the scramble, several fishermen reportedly ‘mistook’ cables in use for unused ones, but Ministry of Post and Telematics officials said that the acts were most likely thefts, not mistakes.