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Dubai impounds cable slicing ships

Satellite images used to ID Gulf cable miscreants

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Two ships whose anchors damaged an undersea cable in the Gulf have been traced by the cable operating company using satellite imagery. The owners of one vessel have paid compensation for the damage caused, and the second remains impounded by Dubai port authorities.

The Hindu of India (where cable company Reliance is headquartered) reported last week that company officials said they had identified the ships and located both in Dubai.

"The matter has been brought to the notice of appropriate authorities which are taking necessary action," a company officer told The Hindu.

The Khaleej Times reported on Friday that an officer of the Korean-owned MT Ann had admitted liability, and the owners had paid $60,000 compensation to Reliance. The Ann has now been released.

The other vessel, MV Hounslow, remains impounded. The Hounslow is said to be Iraqi owned, and it appears that her captain was not on board when the vessel was seized by Dubai coastguards and police. Two crewmembers who were present have been arrested. Some $350,000 is sought in the case of the Hounslow, which is accused by Reliance of having abandoned its anchor after having tried and failed to get it free of the cable.

Most accounts of the outages earlier this year have it that two cables were cut in one incident off Egypt and one more in the Gulf. (There was also a power cut at the same time affecting a second Gulf cable, and erroneous reports of a fifth problem, which fuelled speculation regarding some kind of worldwide foul play.)

It would appear that the Ann and the Hounslow were responsible for the Gulf damage, both having been close to Dubai at the time. The anchors of the two ships, according to the Khaleej Times damaged the FALCON line between Dubai and Oman. The cause of the Med breakage remains unreported.

The tinfoil-clad analysts who fingered various sinister conspirators as being behind the events - theorised to have been orchestrated by the CIA, US Navy, aliens, Iran, MI6 etc - will no doubt refuse to be taken in by this flimsy cover story of incompetent merchant seamen and anchors. ®

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