Our Head of Asia, Sheryl Ong, is going to be presenting at the SubOptic Foundation Symposium in Singapore in just a couple of weeks time.

It’s a great chance for professionals and undergraduates to get an exciting insight into the world of subsea cables and the potential careers available within the sector.

There’s still time to register to attend for free here: SubOptic Symposium (terrapinn.com)

Earlier this month, we held our Annual Awards Evening, recognising employees and teams both on and offshore right across Global Marine Group.

Designed to reward and recognise outstanding achievements over the last 12 months, the categories reflect the businesses underpinning values. Over 150 nominations were made by peers throughout the company.

Congratulations to this year’s awards winners:

Offshore Individual: Samantha Mason

Second Officer, Samantha, was chosen as the winner for this category for her outstanding response to Covid-19.

Onshore Individual: Rebecca Hughes

Fleet Resourcing Manager, Rebecca was selected as a winner for this category for her ability to hit the ground running and make an immediate difference within the company.

Offshore Team: C.S. Sovereign

The C.S. Sovereign crew were nominated for their fortitude and resilience in the face of extremely challenging conditions. A big congratulations to the whole team.

Onshore Team: Roz Johnson and the Accounts Payable Team

This team has been recognised multiple times for their dedication and hard work, and for going to extra mile to ensure the business remained operational.

Excellence & Capability: Carla Bennet

Subsea Operations Administrator, Carla was selected as the winner of our Excellence and Capability Award due to her dedication and commitment to the company, her ability to go above and beyond their job role and for always being helpful.

Innovation: Brian Perratt

Global Support Services Manager, Brian has been recognised by his peers for approaching product development with flare and passion, and creating a positive impact on the business.

Customer Focus: Plamen Katsanski

The winner of our Customer Focus Award, IT Analyst Plamen, is highly regarded by his peers and always has the customers’ requirements in mind. Plamen has qualities, which have been described as ‘a great ambassador and attribute to their team and the wider business’.

Commercial Focus: Liam Cairney

The winner of the Commercial Focus Award was Proposals Engineer, Liam, who has been described as having exceptional dedication, commitment, and work ethic and always going above and beyond in his role.

Corporate Citizen: Andy Newman

Engineering Manager, Andy won this award due to his proactive approach in ensuring that our graduates and apprentices are fully supported and getting the right type of developmental experience.

Covid Hero: Elliot Gaitch

This special category introduced this year will recognise an individual that has not only gone above and beyond in their role during the pandemic, but has demonstrated their commitment to the Global Marine Group culture and values outside of their role within the business, supporting local communities or volunteering for others that have been in real need.

Second Officer Elliot, was nominated multiple times by his peers, and has been described as ‘a truly worthy Covid hero’.

Safety Champion: Jon Geddes

Jon has shown real diligence in his training and assessment of CTV Masters and Crew which has made a significant contribution to the reduction in incidents within the CWind fleet. Jon’s authenticity and setting of extremely high standards in his execution deserves to be recognised and makes him a worthy winner of the award.

Directors’ Choice: Dave Whiting

The Directors choice award this year goes to Dave, RQHSE Officer, who has been instrumental in ensuring that the business has continued to keep going despite the challenges of Covid. Dave have provided constant support to the Global Marine business unit over the past year and is always quick to respond to enquiries, supporting as best he can in every situation. A truly worthy award winner.

Congratulations and thank you to all our winners, shortlisted colleagues and nominees this year!

As an independent island nation, the UK is heavily dependent on the uninterrupted provision of communication and power services, the vast majority of which is delivered by subsea cables. But what happens when those cables are compromised? Our CEO Ian Douglas recently spoke with the National Preparedness Committee to offer a possible solution. Read the full article on their website here, along with other news, articles and reports for the commission surrounding the resilience of the UK.

The issue

In 2017 a new, young MP called Rishi Sunak provided a foreword to a Policy Exchange report on subsea cable infrastructure. He said that: ‘A successful attack on the UK’s undersea cable infrastructure would be an existential threat to our security. Yet, the exact locations of these cables are both isolated and publicly available – jugulars of the world economy which are a singularly attractive target for our enemies… most governments have not given undersea cables enough attention.’

Today, nearly all data traffic is carried via subsea communication cables which connect the UK to the rest of the world and underpin our digital economy. Around a quarter of our electricity arrives on the mainland via submarine power cables and this is rapidly expanding with the growth of offshore wind farms in particular.

Clearly, this an issue of great importance and consequence but subsea cables have yet to receive the political and policy/regulatory interest they deserve.

The threat

As well as the MP writing in 2017, the UK’s Defence Secretary and, indeed, US intelligence officials have recently spoken of Russian submarines “aggressively operating” near Atlantic cables as part of its unconventional methods of warfare. When Russia annexed Crimea, one of its first moves was to sever the main cable connection to the outside world.

Then there is the accidental damage to subsea cables through maritime activity, primarily demersal fishing (trawling) as well as ships’ anchors.

Previous events such as the ‘isolation’ of the Channel Islands in 2017 and loss of all power to the Scillies in 2016 have demonstrated the real risk of cable damage. In 2020 there were 33 emergency cable repairs in the Greater Atlantic region, with 17 to cables serving the UK.

Yet, despite communication and energy cables being an essential component of the UK’s critical national infrastructure, there is no integrated governance regime in place to mitigate the consequences of them being damaged.

A series of maintenance agreements between operators and countries served exist but these are based as much on convention and goodwill as a national security and, therefore, lack teeth and lead to inconsistent implementation. They need to be strengthened.

Network operators are increasingly taking a lax approach to their speedy restoration, potentially exposing the UK to a market environment which will not find it cost effective to repair UK subsea cables, especially when the UK is being bypassed more frequently as a main artery location. The new norm for repair times is months not days.

This is a fast-growing issue as the remaining UK cables are increasingly owned by US tech and multimedia giants but used by the UK telecommunications industry – and, indeed, HM Government – which do not have the same traditional telecommunications and connectivity approaches and requirements. These multinationals have low drivers for instant maintenance of their subsea infrastructure and typically allow multiple faults to develop before seeking to resolve them, leaving mission-critical services that rely on these cables to be ignored.

A solution

Major issues are often said to have no silver bullet. However, in this case there are clear steps the government could take, building on international best practice to build national resilience. The government should, for example, establish a governance policy fit to respond to threats both routine and hostile.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority, the Australian equivalent of Ofcom, operates an installation permit system which takes steps to ensure the safety and integrity of subsea cables. A key condition to secure such a permit is that the carrier must demonstrate that it has an adequate and available maintenance and repair solution.

The regulatory approach provides certainty in terms of operating rights as well as specific measures to protect critical infrastructure in Australian waters, ensuring a base level of resilience to the cable network overseen by government.

The UK Government should look to bolster its network resilience with a permit regime overseen by Ofcom and Ofgem and working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the Centre for the Protection of Critical National Infrastructure (CPNI).  This would require a mandatory UK sovereign repair coverage 24/7, 365 days a year, and for a regular inspection regime, potentially mandating the use of UK-flagged vessels.

A strong and effective regulatory regime should also require providers to have a UK-based capability with cables stored in the UK and with maintenance, repair and overhaul processes provided under UK flagged vessels to support national security and strength the UK’s sovereign capability.

Such a regulatory regime will also strengthen the UK’s maritime industry and ensure that civil contingency and defence considerations are effectively addressed in a way that they are not today, giving the government more ‘directional’ options to use UK flagged vessels in a national emergency than it currently has.

It is time that the threat to subsea cables was taken seriously and the means to deliver greater resilience is fully considered by the government.

Global Marine Group is the only UK-domiciled company that lays and maintains communications cables and, as a member of Atlantic Cable Maintenance & Repair Agreement (ACMA), it operates two of the three vessels responsible for the cable repair and maintenance of systems in the North and South Atlantic, English Channel, North Sea, Caribbean Sea and South East Pacific.

Global Marine has completed the initial subsea fibre-optic cable route survey scope for the Scottish Government’s Reaching 100% Programme (R100), being delivered by Openreach on behalf of BT. The project covers inter-island connections between Orkney, Shetland, and the Inner Hebrides as well as two connections back to the Scottish mainland.

The Scottish Government-funded R100 project aspires to extend superfast broadband capabilities at speeds of at least 30Mbps to every premises in Scotland.

Utilising the extensive subsea knowledge of our sister company OceanIQ, also part of the Global Marine Group, and specialist service provider Fugro, the cable route surveys are now complete, ahead of the 16-route cable lay. The fibre optic cable installation is scheduled to commence early in 2022 and will be delivered by Global Marine’s multi-purpose vessel, Normand Clipper.

Three survey vessels were mobilised on the project to complete specific scopes of geophysical and geotechnical survey work along the different cable routes. The scope of work also included an Unexploded Ordinance (UXO) assessment. As well as land survey activities, an aerial lidar survey was conducted to acquire topographical and inter-tidal survey data and photogrammetry.

Bruce Neilson-Watts, Managing Director of Global Marine said: “We are pleased that this initial stage of the project is almost complete. The diverse elements of the subsea survey data will combine together to give a rich and detailed picture of the seabed environment and shallow soils regime, providing essential information to deliver this high-profile project safely and effectively for the long-term benefit of many of Scotland’s residents.”

Mr Neilson-Watts continued: “With 16 routes throughout the Northern and Western Isles of Scotland, there has been great cooperation between our survey teams and local fisheries, and other users of the sea to ensure safe and efficient working, with minimal disruption to all stakeholders.”

Clive Downing, R100 Programme Director, Scottish Government said: “We recently announced the start of build for Scottish Government’s R100 North contract area, where 16 new subsea cables will be laid to provide superfast broadband access to some of the hardest-to-reach areas.

“As a result of the R100 North contract many homes and business will benefit from full fibre broadband, far exceeding our superfast commitment and providing future-proofed full fibre connectivity to some of the most rural and remote communities in Scotland. This is something that will make a huge difference to both residents and businesses as we continue to work, learn and access public services remotely.”

“Fugro and Global Marine have successfully mapped out the subsea routes through complex underwater and overhead surveys and this work is the first step in connecting islanders to faster broadband. I look forward to hearing about subsea progress in the upcoming months.”

Robert Thorburn, Openreach partnership director for Scotland, added: “R100 is a hugely important project and the subsea build is both complex and sensitive. Over this summer, our specialist partners, led by Global Marine, have used innovation and technology – in the air and on land and sea – to gather the extensive, in-depth knowledge we need to design the full fibre network to more islands.”

International Women in Engineering Day (#INWED21) takes place on 23 June. We hope by sharing some of Global Marine Group’s success stories, we can help to raise the profile of women engineers across the globe, and encourage more people to consider engineering as a profession for all.

INWED is an international awareness campaign which raises the profile of women in engineering and focuses attention on the amazing career opportunities available to women and girls in this exciting industry.

Shannon Gray

“If you want to be a successful engineer then you have to be passionate about it.”

Lisbeth Sorensen

“My advice to anyone interested in becoming an engineer, would be education first and foremost.”

Ramona Vryonides

“Whatever type of engineering you specialize in, your work will focus on solving complex problems – a skill that is highly sought after in all sorts of industries.”

CWind Training, a leading provider of health and safety, offshore skills and GWO-accredited training courses to the offshore wind industry, and part of the Global Marine Group, has today announced their plans for relocation to Grimsby.

Planned for May this year, the move from CWind Training’s current base in Lowestoft to the Fish Docks, Port of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, will allow the company to widen its course offering. The relocation will also bring CWind Training closer to many of its customers and CWind’s operational HQ in Grimsby, in the centre of the East Coast’s green energy hub.

The new location offers a suite of classrooms and training areas that will increase CWind Training’s current capacity to allow over 3000 course spaces per year for the essential training required to work in the growing offshore wind industry.

Tom O’Shea, Head of Training at CWind Training, said: “Moving near to CWind’s operational hub enables us to benefit from insight directly from live projects, working more closely with our colleagues who are dealing with the daily realities of technical work at an offshore wind farm, giving our students the most realistic training experience possible.

“On the East Coast, Grimsby is at the heart of the UK’s offshore wind industry, making it a more convenient location for our customers. With more impressive facilities, experienced instructors, courses that always reflect the latest industry requirements, modern equipment and an 18m realistic training tower, we are able to ensure high-quality training opportunities for all students.”

Martyn Boyers, Chief Executive at Grimsby Fish Dock Enterprises Ltd, said: “CWind are an important existing customer at the ‘GRO Centre’ in the Port of Grimsby East, and we are delighted that they have chosen to relocate their CWind Training base with us. Not only is this good news for us, as the Port Operator, but also for North East Lincolnshire Council, the wider community and for local job seekers.

“CWind Training’s decision to relocate to the area underpins the significance of Grimsby as a strategic base for offshore renewables and is great news for renewables in the Humber Hub and the wider region as more offshore activities develop. This move is an exciting opportunity and establishes a place of excellence within the offshore renewables industry, with Grimsby at the heart of it. We look forward to working with CWind Training and developing our facilities for some time to come.”

In addition to the range of courses offered at their Grimsby location, CWind Training will continue to offer bespoke services at clients’ locations across the UK. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, CWind Training remained operational, offering COVID-compliant face-to-face courses with additional safety precautions, as well as remote courses for those who could not travel. These safety measures will remain in place at their new site as necessary, enabling CWind Training to continue to provide essential training to the vital offshore wind industry.

Established in 2010 as National Wind Farm Training Centres (NWFTC) before being rebranded as CWind Training in 2017, the training provider has been based in Lowestoft since 2011.

In 2012, CWind Training was the first UK owned and based training provider to achieve a Global Wind Organisation accreditation.

Further CWind Training announcements and updates will be shared on CWind’s LinkedIn page.

At Global Marine Group, we’re proud to support and nurture talent through a range of opportunities for applicants to gain experience and skills within our organisation.

Over the last 170 years, our success has been driven by our people, who are filled with passion and the creative vision to work collaboratively in order to achieve greatness.

As our people continue to deliver customer-centric solutions across the telecommunications and offshore energy markets, we know that their valuable skills can be utilised and harnessed to develop the workforce of the future.

That is why we offer a range of career development opportunities, such as work experience placements and Apprenticeships across departments such as finance, business administration and engineering.

Many of our back deck personnel were trained and qualified in-house through our training and development programs, enabling them to forge specialist careers in jointing, subsea, and cable engineering.

Our cadet program, which offers a sponsorship agreement for a cadetship alongside Ship Safe Training Group Ltd (SSTG), gives those just starting their offshore careers the opportunity to gain an Officer of the Watch qualification. Offering a mix of technical and academic training and practical experience, whereby our cadets complete work experience placements onboard our vessels around the world, our cadet program has led to very successful and prosperous careers within Global Marine Group and the wider industry.

We also have partnerships with Cadet schools in the Philippines, to develop the excellent pool of budding officer cadets there as well.

We also offer an exceptional graduate program spanning two or three years, with six-month placements around the business to gain maximum exposure to a range of departments. The program enables graduates to expand their knowledge of different markets and disciplines, as well as enabling them to discover a career path they really enjoy. Previous GMG graduates have gone on to become Project Managers, Project Engineers, Directors of Business Development and Marine Managers.

We also offer our existing colleagues a range of career development possibilities, including secondments and short-term opportunities within our international Joint Ventures or between our four business units – Global Marine, Global Offshore, CWind and OceanIQ.

The last year has been exceptionally difficult for those looking for work, and so in our latest efforts to support employment opportunities, we have committed to the UK Government’s Kickstart Scheme, which offers 16 to 24 year olds on Universal Credit the opportunity to gain vital skills and experience within an organisation. We hope that these work placements will enable young people to gain a passion for the offshore energy and telecoms sectors, and give them the confidence and skills needed to develop their careers.

Our commitment to transferring skills is not confined to the UK alone. As a Group, we understand that the key to our business growth and success is our diverse workforce, who bring innovative ideas and creative viewpoints to their work. Through recruiting and developing a local workforce within the communities we work in, such as the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, we can help grow the sectors we work in across the globe, offering developing communities greater career opportunities in the process.

If you are interested in joining Global Marine Group, please check our careers website where you can apply for all available vacancies.

CWind, a leading provider of project services, Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) and GWO-accredited training courses to the offshore wind industry, and part of the Global Marine Group, has completed their cable pull-in and termination and testing campaign at Vattenfall’s Danish Kriegers Flak Offshore Wind Farm.

Spanning a period of just over six months, CWind’s scope of work included utilising two walk to work vessels – Island Diligence and Island Crown, which were mobilised to support CWind’s dedicated teams conducting 72 inter-array cable pull-ins and termination & testing works.

CWind also provided a number of CTVs, complete with highly trained and experienced crew, including CWind Challenger, CWind Artimus and 24PAX vessel, CWind Voyager.

Nathanael Allison, Managing Director of CWind said, “It is a testament to CWind’s superior capabilities that we successfully and safely carried out the full scope of work, meeting client expectations in the process, despite a global pandemic and challenging weather conditions.”

Ian Bremner, Project Director at Vattenfall said, “Global Marine Group has shown professionalism in their operations and solution-oriented thinking, delivering a high standard of engineering to deal with the technical challenges during work execution. Our partner has worked safely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic alongside other ongoing site operations, contractors and the Vattenfall project team.”

Global Marine has been awarded the desktop study, survey and cable installation scope as the turnkey contractor for BT’s R100 North contract in Northern and Western Isles off Scotland.

The Scottish Government-funded Reaching 100% Programme (R100) aspires to extend superfast broadband capabilities at speeds of at least 30Mbps to every premises in Scotland.

The festoon system in Northern and Western Scotland comprises 16 different cable routes, and will provide better broadband connections for the following communities: Colonsay, Iona and Lismore in Argyll and Bute; Eigg in the Highlands; Eday, Flotta, Hoy, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney; Fair Isle, Unst, Whalsay and Yell in Shetland.

Desk Top Study work and initial project permitting has been completed by sister company OceanIQ, also part of the Global Marine Group. Survey vessels will be mobilised onto the project, including the completion of specific UXO hazard assessments following the guidance of the risk assessment and mitigations strategies, from Spring 2021. From Spring 2022, Global Marine will be utilising cable installation vessel Normand Clipper to lay the cable.

Bruce Neilson-Watts, Managing Director of Global Marine said: “This is an exciting project for us that will have a hugely positive impact on the residents of the 15 different islands included in the scope of the work. Quicker and more reliable connectivity is extremely valuable, never more so than right now with the world operating much more remotely than it ever has done.”

Mr Neilson-Watts continued: “Our in-house knowledge and track record for the planning and installation of systems such as this means we have the flexibility and agility to structure the work around the current economic climate as effectively as possible.”

Robert Thorburn, partnership director at Openreach, which is delivering the R100 contracts on behalf of BT, said: “Following the excellent progress of our live Scotland-Northern Ireland cable project with Global Marine, we’re looking forward to working with them once again in the coming months.

“The R100 programme will deliver a tangible improvement to so many individuals and businesses across Scotland’s network of islands and the subsea programme will be the first, vital step in bringing reliable, fast broadband to some of the most remote communities in the UK.”

CWind, a leading provider of project services and Crew Transfer Vessels (CTVs) to the offshore wind industry, and part of the Global Marine Group (GMG), has completed the sale of their CTV, Endeavour, to Wood Marine, a port services operator based in Suffolk.

The sale of Endeavour, an 18.5m catamaran with a maximum speed of 27kts, is part of CWind’s strategic plan to remodel its CTV fleet and enables CWind to pursue new vessels, including the world’s first Hybrid SES CTV, which is currently under construction and will join the CWind fleet in February 2021.

Joshua Brennan, Operations Director at CWind said: “We continuously review the composition of our fleet of over 20 CTVs, to actively divest tonnage and upgrade our fleet to suit market requirements. The sale of Endeavour means we can focus on introducing new vessels to our fleet as part of our commitment to lower emissions and provide comfortable, cost-effective CTVs for our customers.”

Endeavour will join Wood Marine’s two other multipurpose workboats, providing port services including crew and stores transfers, hydrographic surveying, ATV support and dive support.

Andrew Wood, Managing Director at Wood Marine said: “We’re pleased to welcome Endeavour to our fleet, providing us with a cost-effective crew and stores transfer solution with greater deck capacity for stores and surveying activities, with a large cabin for crew transit. With the addition of the Endeavour, we can service multiple vessels simultaneously to support all of our diverse customers’ needs.”

CWind, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, successfully completed more than 43,000 crew transfers in 2020.