Wednesday, February 06, 2008

More on the undersea cables

Bruce Schneier, a noted author on network security and encryption subjects, comments on the undersea cable outages at his blog. "There have been no official reports of malice to me, but it's an awfully big coincidence." The conspiracy theories -- and their rebuttals -- are in his comments section.

Plus, Iran is not disconnected! which provides a reality check on this subject. However, conspiracy theorists will delight in this Washington Post article on drug-running submarines. The key piece is that 13 criminal submersibles were recently seized by US authorities, more than in the last 14 years put together. Once upon a time the ocean provided a defense against intruders. Today it has become something of a blanket udner which hanky-panky proceeds apace. How long till cruise ships have to defend against combat swimmers?


Blogger whiskey_199 said...

In the late 1980's Pablo Escobar ran drugs with submarines to points off Miami. So that's nothing new.

2/06/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

But the amount of use of drug-smuggling subs is new. And some of these new ones they have captured are pretty big.

I wonder what the rules of engagement are for a submarine detected approaching the U.S. close in?

It would be difficult to imagine it being anything other than "Depth charge first and ask questions later."

Also, all of the ones I have heard of have been home made and must have pretty short range. Just how many surplus military subs are available out there? Given that Al Queda's main income is now said to be from the Afghan poppy crop, and that Commie Narco guerillas are good buddies with Hugo Chavez, how much longer can it be before we see some Romeos, Foxtrots or Kilos in that trade?

2/06/2008 04:38:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

RWE, I take solace in the fact that it would take a Dr. No to maintain those subs. Which is not really solace, since China or Russia could just give a couple to somebody.

They used to give away Migs and AK's, why not used submarines? If the subs are built like the Russian space hardware, even their antiques keep on ticking.

The boat would work, and probably the torpedoes; who knows about the fancy sub-launched rockets.

2/06/2008 04:59:00 PM  
Blogger The Hubby said... has run articles about these subs. They are not true submarines; rather most are semi-submergable boats with a small conning tower and air intake just above the surface. Think a diesel sub operating on the surface without a snorkel. They are a far cry from even a WW2 era diesel submarine or U-boat, let alone a modern conventional diesel or air-independent-propulsion (AIP) submarine.

2/06/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger said...

Don't worry, with our subs no longer authorized to use their radar on account of the poor whales, we'll never even see them coming. It's better that way. Sigh.

2/06/2008 06:42:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Yo! Back to reality here, please.

How long have underseas cables been in place, fiber-optic or not?

How often have nearly half a dozen of them gone off-line almost at once?

I have always subscribed to the axiom:


Still, the sheer number of cuts and the strategic nature of those breaks all lends a certain air to these events.

Especially so, according to rumor, when satellite photo coverage did not find any maritime traffic that might have substantiated one of the "anchor-dragging" related cable breaks.

Sinister? Only if you're a terrorist group or sponsor hoping to evade detection. Strange? There's less odds of finding a trout in your milk pail.

To quote Elmer Fudd:

"Der's something awfulllllly scwoooooey going on awound here!"

2/06/2008 09:32:00 PM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: Dr. No.

Turns out the cold-war wind-down of the defense industry has spawned underwater luxury yachts. See and this story Call it a noiseless few knots at 1000 ft for a week or more, depending on how the sub is equipped. They’ve never had an accident. Means automation has to be so good no human management is required.

2/07/2008 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

I've been looking for any information on what a "typical" number of cable failures per year might be, and finally I've come across something authoritative:

Turns out that, globally, there are upwards of "50 cable cuts a year" due to fishing trawler activity and ship's anchors coming down in an unlucky spot.

This is from a Mr. Stephan Beckert, Director of Research at a communications industry consulting company, Telegeography Research.

So on average, in a little over a week's period, one cable somewhere in the world gets cut. Something to bear in mind as more news on this topic comes in.

2/08/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Wm_Edwin said...

In point of fact, the article I posted above states that the cut on the FALCON cable between Dubai and Oman was due to an abandoned ship's anchor.

2/08/2008 12:07:00 AM  

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