Global Cloud Xchange (GCX) and E-marine announced the successful conclusion of repairs of GCX’s submarine cable FALCON during the COVID-19 pandemic – despite stringent procedures and restrictions affecting permit regulations, logistics, and additional critical measures needed to ensure employee health and safety.

GCX issued a mobilization request to their trusted partner E-marine to support the repairs of its’ Falcon Gulf Loop in the UAE contiguous zone. During the repairs, countries across the world initiated lockdown measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and new procedures were being changed and implemented not only by Government regulatory authorities but also by customs, immigration, and local port authorities daily.

E-marine’s repair vessel CS Maram was quickly remobilized for the repairs, as it returned from work in the Red Sea after obtaining necessary clearances from the port authorities. GCX and E-marine teams worked diligently to a tight schedule to minimize any risks to the repair due to changing Government regulations. The health and safety of all ship and ground crews were of paramount importance. The Gulf submarine system was repaired and restored within a week of repair mobilization in late March.

E-marine PJSC was notified by GCX, regarding the fault offshore UAE. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and implementation of new safety rules & regulations by the authorities, it was very challenging to mobilize the Cable Ship immediately for the repair operation. However, considering the urgency, E-marine arranged permissions from concerned authorities and made exceptional efforts to mobilize the cable ship timely.

Further, during the operation, it was observed that the segment had multiple faults. Therefore, E-marine was requested to transport additional kits from their depot to cable ship Maram on the worksite, which was promptly done by them by deploying an additional supply boat. The repair operation was completed on April 3, and traffic on cable was fully restored.

Omar Jassim Bin Kalban, CEO of E-marine said, “E-marine always takes extra efforts to protect the interests of our clients and restore services to the affected cables in the fastest way possible. Our strategic location in the region allows us to undertake repairs most efficiently, and the reputation that we have created with the relevant authorities in the region for more than three decades helps us to get operational permissions for our vessels and crew quickly, even in unprecedented situations like the ongoing COVID pandemic. Further, the operation needs to be done with the highest standards of Quality, Health, Safety & Environment (QHSE) regulations, to not put at risk the crew and the passengers alike. It is a difficult task, but our carefully laid operational norms/procedures and the deftness of our engineers & crew help us to perform the operations with aplomb safely.”

“Liaison with all cable landing stations were not without challenges, and workarounds for testing and powering had to be arranged. Procedures were modified, as local access to sites was restricted due to curfews and other lockdown rules,” said Surinder Sian, GCX’s Senior Marine Manager, who was supporting the operation virtually, as he was unable to join the vessel as GCX representative due to travel and quarantine restrictions.

Brad Kneller, GCX’s Head of Submarine Operations, commented, “We have a long and successful partnership with E-marine, providing repair and maintenance services for our cables in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean. Our priority, as in all repairs, is to return the cable to customer traffic as quickly as possible while ensuring the safety of all personnel at both E-marine and GCX. The pandemic presented significant additional challenges in this respect, which both teams worked through successfully to complete the repair of our FALCON cable system. GCX continues to build and operate reliable and resilient subsea connectivity solutions, and we look forward to many more years working with E-marine.”

Since late March 2020 and during the lockdown due to COVID-19, GCX has provided more than 2 Tb of bandwidth services to their customers. GCX and E-marine initiated their Business Continuity Plans early to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees, partners, and to safeguard the continued operation of their company services. Through a strong partnership, successful repairs during a time of crisis prove its business as usual, even during a global pandemic.