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US and UK ‘lay underwater cables’ off Cyprus

Media reports on Sunday claimed that the US have joined forces with the British government in laying underwater cables off Cyprus with the sole purpose of monitoring movements in the Eastern Mediterranean sea.

Reports in Phileleftheros claim that the underwater fibre-optic cables, that aim to monitor underwater movement and movement on the water surface, essentially meander off the southern coast of Cyprus and plug into the Sovereign Base Area (SBA) of Akrotiri where the data is collected and processed.

The data will include recording the movements within the waters from various surface and underwater vessels while the cables will be monitoring tectonic movements in a bid to better prepare for earthquakes and possible tsunamis.

The cables are also expected to be used for general communicational purposes too.

The cable ship CS Global Sentinel had been deployed to the area off Cyprus earlier this year and had actually began laying cables on February 6. It remained off Cyprus until March 27.

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The same media reports on Sunday claimed that a British firm, Carillion Defence and Security Business, had constructed a 10,000m2 building in the area of the old hospital in Akrotiri to act as a centre point for the collected data.

The firm had won the tender from the UK government with the construction cost totalling £90million.

The move to place the fibre-optic cables within Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) had been announced to the Cyprus Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides by the US Embassy in Nicosia.

Phileleftheros sources say that the matter was handled internally at the Foreign Ministry and was not passed on for approval/discussion – as is usually the case – to the Cypriot government’s committee responsible for underwater cables, which is represented by officials from the ministries of defence, agriculture, energy, interior, labour and communications.

Modern communications, including the internet, depend on underwater cables connecting continents and countries.

The communications are far more secure than anything that is broadcast. There is a common misconception that nowadays most international communications are routed via satellites, when in fact well over 95 per cent of this traffic is actually routed via submarine fibre-optic cables.

Data and voice transfer via these cables is not only cheaper, but also much quicker than via satellite.

Cable ships are designed for laying and repairing submarine cables and some are specialised for one or the other of those functions.

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