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Networking The Internet

Satellite IDs Ships That Cut Cables 186

Posted by kdawson
from the busted-from-the-sky dept.
1sockchuck writes "Undersea telecom cable operator Reliance Globalcom was able to use satellite images to identify two ships that dropped anchor in the wrong place, damaging submarine cables and knocking Middle East nations offline in early February. The company used satellite images to study the movements of the two ships, and shared the information with officials in Dubai, who impounded the two vessels. The NANOG list has a discussion of where Reliance might have obtained satellite images to provide that level of detail. Google News links more coverage of the developments."
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Satellite IDs Ships That Cut Cables

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  • Kinda odd that they'd have taken a picture clear enough to ID ships of that remote part of the world the same day, or possibly even within a couple hours of the ships being there. And two cables cut by unrelated ships within such a short timeframe? This is soooo conspiracy inducing. I think it was all one big test to see what would happen if someone cut the cables. At least now we know all we have to do is drag and anchor to disrupt the communications infrastructure of entire countries. And we thought
    • Re:weird, huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:49AM (#23060222) Journal

      And two cables cut by unrelated ships within such a short timeframe? This is soooo conspiracy inducing.
      Is it? have you even checked the likelihood of that happening? As a matter of fact, in an average year, around 50 undersea cables are broken. Given that there are 365 days in a year, what is the chance of two breaking in 'such a short timeframe?' It doesn't happen every day, but it's not really out of the ordinary. Check these things before you try to dream up a conspiracy.

      Seriously, when it comes to technology slashdot is collectively pretty intelligent; but when it comes to paranoia and politics, slashdot collectively drops down to the IQ of a two year old.
      • by dunezone (899268) on Monday April 14, 2008 @03:49AM (#23060474) Journal
        Well you finally solved it...

        1. Create Paranoia on Slashdot
        2. Make and Sell Tinfoil Hats
        3. Profit
      • As a matter of fact, in an average year, around 50 undersea cables are broken.
        I'd like to know more about this
        • Re:Cite your sources (Score:5, Informative)

          by WaltBusterkeys (1156557) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @04:16AM (#23060594)
          Your wish is the community's command. Here's ZDNet on cable statistics [zdnet.co.uk]

          According to one paper presented at last year's SubOptic conference in Baltimore, Maryland, rates of cable fault in water over 1km deep are less than 0.1 faults per year, per 1,000km of installed cable. This implies around 50 deepwater repairs per year, globally. At depths of less than 1km, failure rates hovered between 1-2 per 1,000km in the 1990s, but have been steadily declining. According to a SubOptic 2004 paper, the rate in 2003 was 0.2 fault per 1,000km.

          In other words, that's 50 deep-water cuts per year, in addition to some more shallow-water cuts per year.

          Another expert puts it this way [zdnet.com]:

          He said there are approximately 50 cable cuts a year, 65 percent of which are due to fishing trawlers dragging heavy nets and 18 percent of which are due to shipsâ(TM) anchors. âoeThey donâ(TM)t even track terrorism,â he said. âoeCable cuts are a routine part of the business.â

          These statistics don't include power failures and other problems with cables that arise from the land side; if a switching station goes down then the cable goes dark, even if it's still intact.
          • by HoppQ (29469) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:16AM (#23061636) Homepage

            He said there are approximately 50 cable cuts a year, 65 percent of which are due to fishing trawlers dragging heavy nets and 18 percent of which are due to shipsâ(TM) anchors. âoeThey donâ(TM)t even track terrorism,â he said. âoeCable cuts are a routine part of the business.â
            A møøse once bit my sister's cable...
      • Re:weird, huh? (Score:4, Informative)

        by CustomDesigned (250089) on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:24AM (#23061368) Homepage Journal
        Applying the standard birthday paradox math, the probability that at least 2 of 50 cuts in a year fall on the same day is 97%. So the weird part is why these particular same day cuts were news. The odds of two cuts on the same day affecting the same country group are lower. It is harder to quantify "country group", however.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by fazookus (770354) *
        For what it's worth, your basic two year old is breathtakingly smart, just not in the IQ sort of way. It's when they've gotten older and stupider that they become able to contribute to Slashdot.
        • by 0111 1110 (518466)

          For what it's worth, your basic two year old is breathtakingly smart, just not in the IQ sort of way
          You obviously haven't spent much time around children. Didn't Alex the African Grey parrot test as well as the average 2 year old human? Or are you talking about emotional intelligence?
          • by MrNaz (730548) *
            I think he's talking about their incredible capacity to assimilate vast quantities of new information into a growing body of knowledge, and apply it almost instantly. The older people get, the lower is their capacity to learn and apply new knowledge. The phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" is a pithy expression of this almost* universal observation.

            * Some people appear to retain a greater capacity for learning than others as they age, were I to guess, I'd guess that it was a result of keeping the
        • by MrNaz (730548) *
          So when people say "Slashdotters are a bunch of 2 year olds!" it's actually praise for the community?
      • by kabocox (199019)
        Is it? have you even checked the likelihood of that happening? As a matter of fact, in an average year, around 50 undersea cables are broken. Given that there are 365 days in a year, what is the chance of two breaking in 'such a short timeframe?' It doesn't happen every day, but it's not really out of the ordinary. Check these things before you try to dream up a conspiracy.

        Seriously, when it comes to technology slashdot is collectively pretty intelligent; but when it comes to paranoia and politics, slashdot
    • When cables get cut, wouldn't you, as a service provider, want to know what ships are in the area? Might not intelligence services take a gander with their satellites to see what is happening in the area?
    • by MtViewGuy (197597)
      I think you're forgetting that both the Ikonos and Quick Bird satellites have one meter resolution, good enough to identify fairly closely the type of ship at that anchorage. And it will get even better when a new satellite going up soon with twice the resolution comes online later this year.
    • by couchslug (175151)
      http://www.geoeye.com/products/imagery/geoeye1/default.htm [geoeye.com] is an example of commercial imagery. Pretty good, and good enough combined with a records check to identify ships.

      "At least now we know all we have to do is drag and anchor to disrupt the communications infrastructure of entire countries."

      Radios and landlines and satellites don't count?

  • by Grym (725290) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:34AM (#23060154)

    And here [slashdot.org] I was being made to feel like a regular fool for not being 99.99% positive (as "proven" by Bayes' theorem, no less) that the U.S. government (or others) were intentionally disrupting internet services to presumably stop the Iranian Oil Bourse [wikipedia.org].

    I'll never understand how a technical-minded group such as slashdot that prides itself on objectivity and generally mocks blind faith can, at times, get so easily carried away.

    -Grym

    • I'll never understand how a technical-minded group such as slashdot that prides itself on objectivity and generally mocks blind faith can, at times, get so easily carried away.
      Remember the child-hood comment "takes one to know one" when someone called you an idiot? Same idea, except most of us aren't willing to admit it.
    • Whatever my spam filters catch must be true. No matter the evidence presented, I know my penis will grow and Mr. Nabuti will give me half of his no-longer frozen assets.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      Well if you want to talk objectivity, then how do a few pixels prove anything to you?
    • Yes, that was me. Thank you for making me famous, or perhaps infamous.

      Anyway, before, when the cable cutting phenomenon was brand new, this assumption was stated:

      Considering that historically these cables are cut or disabled only once a year

      If you go back and read my posts carefully, you will notice that I calculated odds based on that assumption. Now, in the post above by phantomfive, he stated a different, and perhaps more accurate number for the rate of undersea cable cutting:

      As a matter of fact, in an average year, around 50 undersea cables are broken

      I would have calculated different odds with the latter number. I'm still not sure which is correct.

      • by CmdrGravy (645153)
        Reading the previous posts linked to you said your figure of 1 cable cut a year was a well sourced figure even when it was pointed out how remarkably unlikley that was.

        So to the question of were you right, almost certainly not - regardless of how good you may be at maths.
  • Jerks... (Score:3, Funny)

    by stendec (582696) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:35AM (#23060162)
    The cable was damaged because of jerks and force of the ship, the official said.

    JERKS!!!!

  • by superash (1045796) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:41AM (#23060186)
    Indian officer held for undersea cable damage

    http://www.ibnlive.com/news/indian-officer-held-for-undersea-cable-damage/63234-3.html
    • Wow, according to TFA, the Korean (unclear North vs. South) vessel owners had to pay the wopping sum of 60K. The smoking gun:

      During police interrogation, the official of the Korean ship admitted that the vessel was passing through the area and agreed to pay damages.

      The Iraqui ship is expected to cough up 350K. This after:

      Dubai Police will refer the Indian chief officer and a Syrian chief engineer to Dubai Public Prosecution by next week. The captain of the ship, who is an Iraqi, was not on board the ves

      • I would think (and with no actual knowledge of maritime law nor particular interest in obtaining it at the moment), that it would take a court of some jurisdiction to handle this before handing over the cash. Curiouser and Curiouser.

        A ship isn't a high margin operation. It usually, if you'll pardon the pun, barely makes enough to stay afloat. Hiring lawyers to defend against lawsuits in several countries is WAAAAAAY more expensive that 60K. Or 350K.

        Sometimes (actually, almost all the time), it's cheape

        • A ship isn't a high margin operation. It usually, if you'll pardon the pun, barely makes enough to stay afloat. Hiring lawyers to defend against lawsuits in several countries is WAAAAAAY more expensive that 60K. Or 350K. Sometimes (actually, almost all the time), it's cheaper to pay the legal blackmail than to contest it and win.

          Perhaps, it's still an interesting jurisdictional question. There are other parties who potentially could claim a loss in the cable cut and 60K (or even 350K) doesn't seem like

          • it's still an interesting jurisdictional question.

            It is that. If I were the Korean captain (or shipowner), I'd think twice before I docked at any of the places that MIGHT have a legal claim relating to the breaks. I doubt the Iraqi captain (or shipowner) has that option, since he's registered in one such country.

    • by RiffRafff (234408)
      "The captain of the ship, who is an Iraqi, was not on board the vessel when it was impounded."

      So the captain of the second ship wasn't even on board...wait...what?
  • Just refuse (Score:2, Funny)

    by ArIck (203)
    I just refuse to believe in any story which does not has the theme of international conspiracy in it. This is /. There can be no man made mistakes!!
  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Monday April 14, 2008 @02:45AM (#23060214)
    The conspiracy nuts are pitiful. I used to think they were all on the right, but now I know there are just as many if not more on the left.
    • There are more conspiracy nuts on the opposite of whichever side has systematically abused their power for sinister gain, dissolving long-held protections, destroying systems and bucking customs for their own confusing purposes in direct opposition to the obvious right thing to do, or the interests of their employers (us). When they do it openly in many different areas without explaining themselves, and there is a well-funded, small group of idealogues behind them, who insist on an absolute right to their own secrecy(they claim the entire Executive Branch may choose whether to testify to court or Congress), and secrets keep leaking out (like suspending the 4th amendment in 2002) from disgruntled ex-employees...

      It's very difficult to have ANY sort of imagination, not just the tin-foil hat kind, and avoid wondering about at least the possibility that the current administration is involved in several large, sinister conspiracies which the public doesn't know about yet. We have literally dozens available that are already in the public sphere.

      This is why 9/11 conspiracy nuts will never die, even if they can't convince skeptics like myself who pick at the technical details. The thing their stories agree on - that those presently in power either caused or could have prevented the attack - fits like a glove into what we know about the administration's goals pre-attack and their actions post-attack. If the Democrats used an attack(cause unknown) to drastically change the country, get rid of all the constitutional rights you hold dear, fulfill a bullet point in preexisting plan to grow the military industrial complex, wage an aggressive war longer than WW2, set us up for at least the possibility of the destruction of our democracy, steal elections, and generally act like a bad Disney villain, there would be a hell of a lot of Republican conspiracy theorists after 8 years as well.

      Your political beliefs should not inform your reasoning, it should be the other way around.
    • by moxley (895517) on Monday April 14, 2008 @07:46AM (#23061470)
      Well I will tell you this much - it's only a true fool who believes that "conspiracies never happen" and everything govt/intel says is true.

      Indeed, conspiracies happen all of the time - any time more than one person gets together with another and plans to do something. It's also one of the msot common criminal charges in the US.

      I still think that the odds of how this happen with so many cables in such a short time span is suspicious. Does that mean it wasn't an accident? Anything is possible, but some things are more likely than others and keep in mind that those groups or agencies who do these sort of things specialize in damage control, cover stories, and manipulation of the public.

      All I am saying is that you really don't know, and for people to act like it's "case closed no questions remain" over this press release is kind of short sighted. It really doesn't change a thing. If this was done intentionally there would be a cover, likely a couple of layers of cover.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by CmdrGravy (645153)
        True but as someone once said you don't want to keep such an open mind that your brain falls out which would appear to be a necessary pre-condition for the vast majority of popular conspiracies.
        • That's like being so hip, your bum falls off.
          • by CmdrGravy (645153)
            Not really, it's more like being so willing to believe absolutely anything at all so you become party to the cool, forbidden and secret truth of the universe that you suspend all critical facilities and engage in any number of convuluted justifications for why your particular conspiracy isn't total nonsense.
  • Nanog Thread (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rufus211 (221883) <(rufus-slashdot) (at) (hackish.org)> on Monday April 14, 2008 @03:11AM (#23060318) Homepage
    GMane is a *far* easier interface to read than whatever nanog's official archive uses:
    http://thread.gmane.org/gmane.org.operators.nanog/54752 [gmane.org]
    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      GMane is a *far* easier interface to read than whatever nanog's official archive uses:

      No offense, but neither of them are easy to read.
      Am I the only one who uses the nested view on /.?

      As for "where Reliance might have obtained satellite images to provide that level of detail"
      Who says they need anything better than the avg 1 or 2 meter resolution pictures?

      It isn't all that hard to track the movements of a commercial boat back to its last port of call and make a phone call to find out who was there.

  • george bush (Score:2, Funny)

    by timmarhy (659436)
    Some how i know this is george bush's fault. i don't care what the evidence says!
    • by trongey (21550)

      Some how i know this is george bush's fault. i don't care what the evidence says!
      Hey, thanks for clearing that up. I was having a hard time figuring out how global warming could have cut those cables.
  • It's obvious, the NSA let them have them because they realised people guessed it was them that cut the cables so to pretend it wasn't they did a double bluff and gave out the images to say "look we're the good guys here!"

    It's all part of the coverup!

    Next week on Internet Conspiracies.com we bring you details of the sharks with laser beams that cut the other cables.

    Seriously though, where did they get satellite imagery capable of seeing ships? well erm, seeing as you can just about pick out people on Google
    • seeing as you can just about pick out people on Google earth I wouldn't imagine it was too much of a challenge being able to see big god damn ships.

      I haven't looked recently, but last time I looked at N'Awlins with Google Earth, you could see the ships along the industrial canal quite clearly. They are, after all, considerably large than your average house.

  • Bah, this is the one time I wish I were an actual /. subscriber. Then I could go through my history and find the nutjobs who were expecting war with Iran "any day now" when the cables were cut. And publicly point and laugh at them. I suppose I'll have to settle for truthers on Digg.
  • by F34nor (321515) * on Monday April 14, 2008 @06:48AM (#23061226)
    If you take the layout of the deck and then compare it to ships in port at known times and locations it would be easy to ident. ships even with a meter resolution. The color and organization of shipping containers has got to be nearly as good a fingerprint even form space.
  • cutting on the cheap (Score:3, Interesting)

    by v1 (525388) on Monday April 14, 2008 @08:18AM (#23061656) Homepage Journal
    The one ship that did get released only paid 60 grand to get out of hock. I can't imagine that covering the cost to repair the cable, let alone the loss incurred by the cutting of the cable.

    I wonder how much that cost the internet providers... one would assume that whoever they leased the pipe from had to be given an alternate service, paid for by the company owning the cables that were cut, since they were likely under contract to provide the service. That can't have been cheap. Unless they used another line they owned, but still you'd think they would have to compensate their customers somewhat for the severe degradation of services and the downtime?

    • by gartogg (317481)
      I would assume that for governmental fines, the goal isn't to compensate the owners, it is to penalize the perpetrators. This is true because the government is simply trying to disincentify these behaviors. If people stop cutting the cables, the problem is solved, therefor the fine should be in proportion to profit margins in the shipping industry to dissuade them, not in proportion to the damage caused, unless negligence or malicious intent can be presumed a priori.

      The difference can be paid in civil court
  • by Pinback (80041)
    Welcome to the USS carrier NO CARRIER.

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