SEA-ME-WE 4 Fibre Optic Submarine Cable Project


  • Alexander Samuel McLeod


8751 case study civil ocean engineering disaster lessons learned


In the fast expanding world of technology, the internet has become an essential backbone in transferring data and information to business’s and markets world-wide. With data needed to be transferred to countries oceans apart on a daily basis, a medium to transport this large volume of data at a high rate is required for global economies to perform at maximum efficiency. The South East Asia-Middle East-West Europe 4 (SEA-ME-WE 4) fibre optic sub-sea cable is such a medium capable of transporting large volumes of data on a global scale within the blink of an eye, making it ideal for global economies to conduct business with efficiency. The SEA-ME-WE 4 sub-sea cable currently spans 20,000 km linking South East Asia, The Middle East, North-East Africa and Western Europe. The fibre optic system was constructed using a Cable Ship and equipped with a Sea Plough designed to dig trenches, lay cable in the trenches and cover the cable under the sea bed. The system uses state-of-the-art Terabit technology to achieve ultra-fast data transfer (1.28 Terabits/second), and supports a wide range of communication media from telephone, internet, multimedia and various broadband applications. The SEA-ME-WE 4 consortium, comprised of sixteen international telecommunication companies, currently performs maintenance on the system, providing Cable Repair Ships to respond to areas where the cable has been cut or disrupted. The following paper will highlight the construction of the SEA-ME-WE 4 cable, the procedures used in laying the cable, the impact the fishing industry has on submarine cables like SEA-ME-WE 4 and how to prevent submarine cable damage.


“The Worldwide History of Telecommunications”, Anton A. Huurdeman, 2003

International Cable Protection Committee, “Fishing and Submarine Cables Working Together”, Second Edition, Stephen C. Drew & Alan G. Hopper, February 23rd, 2009






Coastal and Ocean Engineering (ENGI.8751)