Ship Drops Anchor, Severs Internet Connection to East Africa

port of mombasa chart 61211
Nautical charts such as this one will almost always show the position of subsea cables. It's possible that the chart may not have been updated showing the positions of the newly-laid cable.

About 10 years ago, the ship I was assigned to was leaving San Diego when all of a sudden we heard a rather loud, and unexpected rumbling.  We were passing by North Island at about 16 knots when, to the great surprise of our captain and the rest of the bridge team, one of our 9,000 pound anchors let go in the channel.  Shockingly, there was no damage to our ship, sonar dome, or anything that happened to be on the seafloor.

I can’t remember exactly how it all happened, but I know we were damn lucky we didn’t tear something up in the process.

While conducting a far more routine anchoring operation in Mombasa the other day, another ship was not so lucky.  A merchant ship dropped anchor on top of a rather important fiber optic cable that was helping to supply much of East Africa with high speed internet.

According to a report by the BBC, “internet connections are expected to slow down by 20% in Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, Ethiopia and South Sudan’s capital, Juba,” and that it could take up to 14 days to repair.