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NSCPO Background

History of the NSCPO

The Naval Seafloor Cable Protection Office (NSCPO) was created in response to an increasing number of cable breaks. During the late 90's, the Navy was averaging 10 breaks per year.   In 2000, Naval Facilities Engineering Command stood up the Naval Seafloor Cable Protection Office.  NSCPO is now the "front office" point of contact for all Navy and DoD seafloor cables.  As such, the NSCPO participates in national and international forums with the commercial undersea cable industry and other goverment agencies.  In addition, NSCPO represents the interests of all Navy cable owners in policy discussions with all levels of United States government.  This approach allows the Navy to present a single, unified, and coordinated approach to cable protection and policy issues.
Cable Damage due to fishing activity
Early Navy Involvement in the Development of Undersea Cables.
The US Navy was instrumental in the construction of the first trans-Atlantic telegraph line. Along with the HMS Agamemnon, the USS Niagara laid the first transatlantic cable after the USS Arctic surveyed the route.
USS Niagara (1857-1885)

This is a ship
(reprinted from the Naval Historical Center webpage)
The USS Niagara was sent to England to help lay the World's first trans-Atlantic telegraph cable. Though this effort failed when the cable broke in August 1857, a repeat attempt succeeded a year later, again with Niagara's participation. During its few weeks of operation, this cable provided virtually instant communication between Europe and North America, an achievement much celebrated at that time, and for decades to come.

The Navy uses several types of cables for:

  • fleet underwater test and training ranges,

  • sensor systems,

  • communications and data links, and

  • observation and monitoring systems.

Navy Cables Today:

The last two decades have seen increasing investments and attention in protection of this  critical national infrastructure located in the ocean littorals.  Submarine cables are the backbone of the international telecommunications network.  Well over 95% of transoceanic traffic is sent via submarine cables. 
Navy Diver Conducting a Seafloor Cable Inspection
Today the US Navy maintains a single cable ship - USNS Zeus - through the Military Sealift Command.  USNS Zeus (T-ARC 7) is the first multi-mission cable ship designed and built by the U.S. Navy from the keel up. Its two main missions are oceanographic survey and the installation and maintenance of submarine cable systems. Zeus combines her main propulsion system with bow- and stern-mounted tunnel thrusters in an integrated control system that provides the precise track-keeping and position-holding capabilities required for cable laying and repair, array-laying operations, projector towing, acoustic surveys and other mission tasks.

Reprinted from the MSC webpage.  For further information contact
   Public Affairs Office
   Military Sealift Command
   914 Charles Morris Court SE
   Washington Navy Yard, D.C. 20398-5540
   (202) 685-5055 or

The US Navy owns over 40,000 nautical miles of various active seafloor cables.  The Naval Seafloor Cable Protection Office provides the front door for all Navy cables and is the primary initial point of contact within the Navy for cable concerns related to seafloor deconfliction, marine poilicy and encroachment, environmental planning and technical issues.  The NSCPO is a member of many seafloor cable committees and working groups, and provides liaison with the telecommunications industry.

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