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A history of undersea cables from inception to now

05 Nov 15
Peter Bull

Many thanks to Charlie Rudd for passing on this reference published in 2015.

It makes interesting reading even to a person who did not have a lot to do with the introduction of undersea cables. The eBook costs $14.28 from Amazon ( which is an $80 saving to the actual printed book.

The reference covers the Pacific basin extensively with sections devoted to COMPAC and SEACOM. Co-axial cables with undersea repeaters are a child of the 1950’s, COMPAC was right up there with it.

The thing that Charlie found fascinating in the book is the coverage of the political machinations with USA generally and AT&T in particular trying to muscle in on COMPAC and how they were repulsed. Also the decision to use Hawaii instead of Fanning Is., the concessions that had to be made to the Americans.

If you have been involved in cables it is quite good reading. Enjoy!


  1. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 7:45 am

    John Hughes has advised that he just ordered the printed book in paperback form for only $25.95 plus $4.41 shipping and handling – good value and a lot cheaper than cloth bound at $94.95 plus shipping and handling.

    By coincidence he was talking with friends recently about how OTC got its SEACOM Guam cable station in exchange for USA getting Pine Gap (or perhaps it was NW Cape). He recalls that Sir Arthur Tange did much of the negotiating for OTC.

  2. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Tony Bradney in Bilbao at the moment.
    I downloaded the book yesterday and started reading last night, it is quite interesting.
    Rgds Tony Bradney

  3. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 7:46 am

    Very many thanks for the info on the reduced price for the book on the history of cables

    I will certainly get myself a copy.

    I have some further information on the wheeling and dealing that went on with the Guam Cable station, which may be of interest to some the Vets.

    Australia did get agreement for the deal by allowing the Americans to build a VLF station at North West Cape so that they could communicate with their:submarines.

    In return we got agreement to build the Cable Station at Guam, what most people don’t know is that the Cable station and the OTC Houses on site were part of an active USAF site (Tumon Tank Farm where they had approximately 90 underground tanks to store Jet Fuel).

    The Manager’s house was approximately 20 meters from the closest tanks.

    When the station was built, the USAF land was mostly under developed, so they were quite happy for us to build on it.

    As the surrounding areas were developed, the Cable Station & Houses were situated in a prime site, a hill overlooking Tumon Bay

    Under the terms of the lease which expired on 30 June 1990, all the improvements we had made to the land, (houses and the Cable Station building) were to revert to the USAF, unless the lease was renewed

    The USAF was under considerable pressure towards the end of the lease from the local Guamanians who wanted to know why the USAF was leasing prime land to a Foreign entity.

    This coupled with the US dependence on NWC as an important communication station was greatly minimized may have contributed to the lease not being renewed.

    Des Kinnersley

  4. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 8:03 am

    Those are US$. John might find he has paid about $AUD40 in the end.
    The E-book for an I-phone was about $25 (but US dollars) I-Tunes wanted about $36 for the same thing after conversion to AUS$.
    I liked it better in the Eighties, in Guam, when we got about US$1.20 for every Aussie dollar earned. 
    While webbing this book I discovered a small work of fiction called “Pacific Wiretap”, reasonably priced. It’s a work of fiction set in Guam. All about crime in a Cable station, a US one that is underground, and we have visited it! It’s an easy but pleasant read and brings back many memories of life in Guam.
    Cheers, Ben McGee

  5. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 10:02 am

    The down load e-book on kindle is about half the price and is good value if one is running out of bookshelf space. I am currently reading it on a 4″ smartphone.
    Thanks for the tip.
    But I do like paper books – I am a bit of a Luddite in that regard.
    Col Jones

  6. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 10:04 am

    I had known about the deal but am not sure which site the Americans got for the deal. I was on Guam 1981-84 and certainly our position there came with benefits i.e. semi-diplomatic visa.
    I recall when my 3 year term finished and we were heading to the US for a few months of touring, the stupid immigration woman at Honolulu airport challenged us after our incoming flight via Japan. She said we couldn’t enter USA on the visa because of its age or something, so I asked for her manager who looked at the visas and said something like “Welcome to Honolulu Mr and Mrs Hulme. So sorry to have delayed you, can I help you with your bags”. I am sure the troll at the end of the bridge got some more training later.
    What fun.
    Jim Hulme

  7. Peter Bull November 5, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Yes and we grizzled when we gave up the Guam station to AT&T and did not get NW Cape back. A similar deal was done for COMPAC when the Canadian got crown title to Keawaula station in Hawaii, in return for “US land” to set up stations on the DEW (Distant Early Warning) in the north of Canada.
    John Hibbard

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