Fishing vessel, not sabotage, to blame for Shetland Island submarine cable cut
Image: Mike Pennington
Alexander Martin October 20, 2022

Fishing vessel, not sabotage, to blame for Shetland Island submarine cable cut

Fishing vessel, not sabotage, to blame for Shetland Island submarine cable cut

Damage to a submarine cable which cut connectivity Thursday to the remote Shetland Islands north of Scotland is believed to have been accidentally caused by a fishing vessel and not sabotage.

Police Scotland stated that the SHEFA-2 communications link between the Faroe Islands, Shetland, and Scotland, was cut in the early hours of Thursday morning, leaving the subarctic archipelago’s 22,000 people without internet connectivity. Another cable had similarly been damaged earlier this week.

In the context of the Russian war in Ukraine — and following sabotage to the Nord Stream pipeline and damage to the Svalbard submarine cable in January — there were immediate concerns that the disruption could have been purposeful.

However in a statement to The Record, Páll Højgaard Vesturbú, managing director of NET, a subsidiary of Faroese Telecom, said the organization has “reason to believe that the cable was damaged by a fishing vessel.”

The SHEFA-2 cable has previously been damaged by suspected fishing vessels, including twice over the span of a few months in 2013.

A spokesperson for British Telecoms said: “Due to a break in a third-party subsea cable connecting Shetland with the Scottish mainland, some phone, broadband and mobile services are affected.”

BT added that its engineers are attempting to divert communications services via other routes.

Alexander Martin is the UK Editor for The Record. He was previously a technology reporter for Sky News and is also a fellow at the European Cyber Conflict Research Initiative.