Cargo Ships Blamed for Undersea Cable Cuts

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. - Reliance Globalcom blamed two merchant vessels for undersea telecommunication-cable cuts that knocked out Internet access in India and the Middle East for several weeks earlier this year, according to the news service The Hindu. 

Reliance Globalcom said the MV Hounslow and the MT Ann probably were responsible for the cable damage in late January and early February. However, the results of the company's investigation did not explain how every cable was cut, after which all regional Internet traffic in the Middle East had to temporarily run over a single land-based fiber-optic cable.

The company's findings were based on satellite imagery of the two ships, their locations at the time the cable damage occurred, and their destinations. The findings apparently were weighed against evidence collected by repair crews sent to inspect and mend the telecommunication cables.

Upon reaching Dubai, the MV Hounslow and the MT Ann vessels were seized. One ship was released after its Korean owners arranged to pay an undisclosed amount of compensation. However, the sailors of the other Iraqi-owned ship may be required to appear in court. 

It is unclear why the ships are being treated differently or why the sailors who were on one ship, rather than the ship's owners, may be charged with damaging the cable, according to ARS Technica.