December 2012


The Greenland Connect submarine telecommunication cable system is an important part of the trans-Atlantic communications infrastructure. The cables link Europe and North America with landing sites in Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland. These cables provide Tele Greenland backhaul traffic from landing sites in Iceland and Newfoundland to London and Halifax. The system was commissioned in 2008 and brought into commercial service in 2009. Since the system was installed, glacial icebergs have damaged the cables on four separate occasions.

To provide long term protection and enhance system reliability, Tele Greenland decided to protect the cable shore ends using horizontal directional drilling (HDD).  Two HDD bores were drilled 1100 meters through the hard bedrock, exiting at about 200 meters water depth. These are believed to be the deepest HDD exits for a telecommunications cable shore landing, necessitating complex Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) operations to guide  the new cables into the bores.

Sound & Sea Technology (SST), of Seattle, Washington and Ventura, California, working closely with Tele Greenland, the system owner, conducted engineering studies that determined that exiting the bores at 185 meters or deeper would provide adequate protection for the cables over the life of the system. SST initiated the project in 2011 with offshore bathymetric surveys to assess seafloor conditions and identify a suitable shore landing configuration for two new telecommunications cables using HDD technology. Once the survey phase was completed, SST provided engineering and management support  to oversee both the HDD and Marine Operations phases.

On completion of each of the HDD bores, the HDD contractor (Visser & Smit Hanab) installed steel conduits (six-inch drill pipe) with a tag line to aid in cable installations. The HDD phase was successfully completed in late September, 2012. The contractor for the Marine Operations phase (Alcatel-Lucent) completed the cable installation in November, 2012. The final splices were completed and the system brought successfully to full service on December 8, 2012.