Sophisticated Cableship Launched At Swan Hunter's Wallsend Yard

One of the world's most modern and sophisticated cableships, the $49-million Sir Eric Sharp, was recently launched at Swan Hunter's Wallsend Yard, only 14 months after the order was placed by Cable and Wireless (Marine) Ltd.


Designed on computer, with the construction aligned by laser, the 377-foot-long Sir Eric Sharp is one of the most technologically advanced cableships afloat. When commissioned in spring 1989, the new vessel will take up station in Bermuda to provide CWM's new Atlantic Cable Maintenance Service in conjunction with the Mercury, another of CWM's cableships.

The two vessels will share maintenance responsibility for the PTAT system, which will be the first privately funded trans-Atlantic fiber optic telecommunications cable, the PTAT-1 will be jointly owned by Cable and Wireless and its American partner and is scheduled to enter service in mid-1989.

The 6,133-grt Sir Eric Sharp is the first cableship ever designed with a permanent integral remotely operated vehicle (ROV) for buried cable maintenance and repair duties.

The ROV Cirrus will be able to perform a variety of complex cable repair and maintenance tasks. Aside from the hydraulic thrusters which propel the craft, it can also be fitted with tracks enabling it to crawl along the ocean floor.

The Sir Eric Sharp has a breadth of 59 feet, depth of 33 feet and full load draft of 20.6 feet. Her propulsion equipment was provided by GEC Electrical Projects Ltd. The propulsion package consists of a Ruston main diesel engine fitted to a GEC Machines Ltd. generator with GEC Machines Ltd. propulsion motors. Auxiliary power is supplied by an NEI Allen auxiliary engine driving a GEC Machines generator.

Hill Graham Controls Ltd. supplied propulsion motor converters.

For maneuverability, the Sir Eric Sharp is fitted with bow and stern thrusters supplied by White Gill- United Technologies Elliott, Ltd., driven by GEC Machines thruster motors.

The vessel has full satellite communications and navigation facilities and is equipped with an advanced dynamic positioning system which enables it to automatically maintain a fixed position relative to its remotely controlled submersible on the seabed.

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Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 41,  Jan 1989

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.