Flashback Friday: Submarine Cable Repair in the 1980s

By Kristin LeeFeb 23, 2024


If you've read over our Submarine Cable Frequently Asked Questions, you know that cable faults are common. On average, there are over 100 each year.

Of course, as a society heavily dependent on these cables, we've gotten quite good at repairing them.

But what was the repair process like a few decades ago? How were we fixing cables back in the era of the Walkman?

Time for a trip down memory lane.

A 1982 report archived by the AT&T Tech Channel highlights the progress of SCARAB (Submersible Crafts Assisting Repair and Burial) developed at the Bell Labs Holmdel Center in the late 1970s.

These submarine-robots were specifically engineered to address underwater cable damage. However, they were limited by a 10,000-foot long control cable and could only withstand water pressure up to 6,700 feet.

Weighing in at 6,300 pounds, each craft required three people to monitor and control it during operations.

You’ll find the full archived video below.

Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ


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