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WATCH: Cheers all round at successful ‘pull in’ of new electricity cable

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WORKERS cheered today at the successful ‘pull in’ at Havelet Bay of the new electricity cable link with Jersey and France following months of preparations, paperwork, surveys and hard graft.

A crowd of onlookers gathered along Castle Emplacement at lunchtime to watch the culmination of the multimillion-pound engineering project as the huge cable laying vessel approached the bay.

Sea conditions were smooth and glassy, the tide was high, and the sun shone as the NKT Victoria inched closer and smaller boats rallied round for the home straight.

For Sally-Ann David, the chief operating officer at Guernsey Electricity, it was a moment of relief, and she paid tribute to their teamwork.

‘I’m very proud of my team, the team back at the power station, the team at the sub-stations, and my team that are on the ship. I’ve been a little bit apprehensive, but also quite proud to see it all happen as planned.

‘I’ve been describing this today as ‘engineering ballet’ but of course we’ve been designing this since March / April in terms of when and how the cable will be produced, what will the tide be, what will the currents be, and working out the safest and quickest route for the cable to land.

‘Everyone is pleased to see the ship arrive on time. Obviously we rehearse this in a classroom, but to actually see it all go to plan is very rewarding and makes everyone feel relaxed and confident.’

The NKT Victoria has been covering the distance between Jersey and Guernsey at a rate of seven metres per minute since Saturday.

Cable ship NKT Victoria at work in Guernsey

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The cable, attached to giant orange floats, was rolled out in sections along the ocean’s surface and when it was in the proper position the floats were deflated slowly so the cable could sink and sit on the seabed.

Next week another ship will arrive to bury the cable in the seabed to a depth of between one and one and a half metres.

A metal structure, winches and diggers were in place yesterday to help the cable turn the corner at the bottom of the Havelet slipway and haul it up to the roundabout by the old slaughterhouse.

No one was allowed to touch the cable because of the electrical forces.

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The 19-year-old former cable failed in October 2018, leading to an island-wide power cut. The fault was eventually discovered nine kilometres north of Jersey and it was deemed impossible to fix.

Later this year the new cable should be given the green light and switched on, enabling 90% of the island’s power to come from France, bringing an end to regular use of the generators at the Vale power station and bolstering the security of supply.

While the cable is now ashore, Ms David said there was still a lot of work to do before the project is complete.

Picture By Peter Frankland. 10-10-19 NKT Victoria ship in Havelet Bay laying the new electricity cable from France / Jersey.. (26032160)

‘We’ve got to be jointing over the weekend and there’s lots of testing that we need to do at the big sub-station at Victoria Avenue. This is the very visible part of the project, but there’s a lot more stuff going on behind the scenes.

‘Hopefully no one should notice anything when the link goes on, but in November we’ll be doing more testing and loading.

‘We can’t give an actual date yet, but sometime in November, we think.’

Helen Bowditch

By Helen Bowditch
News reporter

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