Repair work has begun on the Basslink Interconnector, the world’s second longest undersea electricity cable that connects Tasmania and Victoria, after a fault was detected in January 2016.
The initial cable inspection did not reveal any obvious seabed disruption and currently a cable vessel is sailing to Bass Strait after a program of significant repair works in Geelong.
The second phase of vessel activity is expected to de-bury the cable and determine the exact location of the fault.
Basslink CEO, Malcolm Eccles, said its cable rectification program was proceeding on schedule as expected and had entered its next phase, with specialist cable vessel the Ile de Re now at sea again.
“Over the past week, the team working on the repair of the Basslink interconnector have made good progress as we seek to repair the interconnector and return it to operation,” Mr Eccles said.
“As advised, an initial inspection of the seabed was undertaken using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). This initial inspection did not reveal the precise fault location, hence at this point in time, we still do not have any additional information on the cause(s) of the fault,” Mr Eccles said.
Since the ship returned from the initial inspection, Basslink has had over 100 people on site at the Port of Geelong working as a 24-hour operation assisting with the vessel modifications, and preparing for the next phases of the project.
Repairs in Geelong included major areas of the ship’s deck cleared of existing telecommunications cable equipment, to make way for bulkier, heavier electrical cables and equipment as well as the installation of two major chutes to the rear of the vessel, allowing for safe and efficient cable retrieval and cable laying.
Works in Geelong also strengthened the ship’s deck, in preparation for installation of the 80 tonne cable reel that will be required during the campaign.
A second remote operated submarine vehicle (ROV) from Denmark was also installed to help with repairs. This second vehicle is expected to spend the next week undertaking a fault location and de-burial of the cable, before returning to Geelong.
This current phase is the second in an anticipated four-phased sailing campaign for the vessel.
Based on current information, the repair of the interconnector will require the complete cable bundle to be cut, which will take the fibre optic telecommunications cable out of service until repairs have been completed.