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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Submarine Cable Telegraphy

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"SUBMARINE CABLE TELEGRAPHY 26.527). - In 1921 there were over 298,000 nautical miles of telegraph cable in operation at the sea bottom, made up of some 3,000 separate lengths, of which about 2,540 were administered by the various governments concerned, whilst the remainder were the property of private (mainly British) companies. Of the world's cables, over 130,000 n.m. are owned by British companies, 71,000 by American companies, and 24,000 by companies of other countries. How much the Allied countries - especially Britain - were indebted to submarine telegraphy in connexion with the World War will probably never be fully realized. Had British communication with the Dominions been cut off at the outset by the enemy, months would have elapsed before arrangements could have been completed for the despatch of the overseas contingents which rushed to British aid. On the other hand, within four hours of the declaration of war, Germany was entirely deprived of direct telegraphic communication with the United States. A British cruiser effected the required interruption in the English Channel by cutting both the cables running between Emden and New York via the Azores, one being taken in to Penzance (Cornwall). Then in March 1917 they were both cut at points 643 and 610 n.m. respectively from New York, one of them being diverted by a British P.O. telegraph ship into Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since July 1917 this has been at any rate temporarily turned to account as a connecting link with the All-British Pacific Cable system.

The other line was handed over to France and taken in to Brest.' Altogether 20,000 n.m. of ex-German cables were captured during the war, covering practically every one of those passing through the English Channel.

Remarkable indeed were the achievements of submarine telegraph cablelaying and repairing authorities during the war. Despite the active German submarine warfare, a vast number stand to the credit of British ships, largely to meet immediate strategic requirements. Whilst some of these were effected by cruisers of the Royal Navy provided with the necessary apparatus and the required length of cable, they were in the most part carried out by specially designed telegraph ships, though accompanied as often as possible (where especially desirable) by a man-of-war as escort. In addition to manufacturing 20,000 m. of trench telephone cable, the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. made 19,000 m. of submarine cable, and its ships were actively engaged on highly dangerous work in the way of laying, repairing and diverting cables. The " Telconia " - perhaps the most efficiently designed telegraph ship in existence - made 75 cable repairs and laid 24 new lines around the English and Irish coasts whilst in commission for H.M. Post Office.

The first entirely new cable to be laid during the war was that by the Telegraph Construction Co.'s T.S. "Colonia " between Montevideo and the Falkland Is. in 1915, under the auspices of the British Admiralty. In the same year, this company also laid,' under Post Office supervision, a direct. Anglo-Russian cable from Peterhead (Aberdeenshire) to Alexandrovsk (about the nearest Arctic Ocean coast point to Petrograd). In both instances thiswas the earliest occasion on which a cable had been brought to the farther point. The first line had purely strategic objects in view, but the second was more especially to meet the fact that communication between Britain and Russia had previously been only effected across countries that were now to a great extent enemy countries; indeed, the Indo-European Telegraph Co.'s land line system had become practically inoperative ever since the outbreak of the war. This work was a truly remarkable feat. The cable was laid in the winter and was landed on Russian territory at the time of year when the sun does not rise above the horizon in those northern latitudes. In fact, the entire undertaking had to be carried out in darkness, as well as in seas infested with enemy submarines. It was conducted with every possible secrecy, it being arranged for the " Colonia," in order to mislead the enemy, to go on a preliminary cruise in an entirely different direction. With land lines at each end and special repeaters, direct telegraphic communication was thus established between the Central Telegraph Office in London and the corresponding building in Petrograd. Moreover, many telegrams from countries S. of Russia - Greece, for instance - passed over this cable in making their circuitous journey from the Levant to various quarters of the globe. This was the first piece of ocean cable work that the British Post Office had ever had to do with. Thus, for its purpose, Post Office engineers and clerks were initiated, at short notice, in the art of deep-sea cable-laying and long distance cable-working at the hands of the contractors, as well as by a staff of the Eastern Telegraph Co. provided for working the cable.' The other more especially important piece of British cable work was the putting through of one of the Emden - New York cables as the first Imperial Atlantic cable to link up with the All-British Pacific line. The path taken by what now constitutes a completed "All Red" route to Australasia is London, Penzance, Fayal Isle, Azores (mid-Atlantic), Halifax, Bamfield (Vancouver), Fanning I. (a small, mid-Pacific, coral formation), Suva (Fiji Is.), Norfolk I., from whence there are two branches, one to Southport, Queensland (Australia) and the other to Auckland (New Zealand).

The Atlantic section of this " All Red " cable system was being worked in 1921 by the Post Office. Thus it has come to pass that a Government department, that, conjointly with the great cable companies, had opposed in turn the scheme for an All-British ' Owing to the enemy's submarine activities, the late German Atlantic cables could not be attended to for some 1 4 months. 2 The Post Office Engineering Department's previous experience of cable work was closely confined to short Channel lines, etc.

Pacific Cable and then later that for an All-British Atlantic Cable, has been called upon itself to put into practice the latter, and now appears as an exponent of " All Red " cables generally. The department in question did much fine work during the war. At the very outset - on the eve of Aug. 4 1914, indeed - its principal telegraph ship, the " Monarch," set forth for the N., where many emergency cables were forthwith laid. It was not long, however, before she met her glorious end, and her "shattered bones" are now lying on the bed of the English Channel - the scene of most of her work. She was one of the very first vessels to be especially designed for cable-laying and repairing.

Another telegraph ship that met her end over the war was the " Dacia," owned by the Silvertown Company. This vessel had accomplished a great deal in her time, and during July 1915 - Feb. 1916 she effected cable communications between Brest (France) and Casablanca (Morocco), by cutting in at suitable positions and picking up and relaying part of the Borkum - Teneriffe cable belonging to Germany. Nearly 450 n.m. of cable were picked up and relaid on this occasion, part of it in a depth of 2,000 to 2,500 fathoms. She then proceeded to establish communication between Casablanca (Morocco) and Dakar (W. Africa), by cutting in, picking up and relaying portions of the TeneriffeMonrovia cable belonging to Germany. Eight hundred n.m. of deep-sea cable were on this occasion recovered and relaid in an average depth of over 2,000 fathoms. We have here a " record " in cable work. It was undertaken for the French Administration, and Casablanca had not up to that time been connected to Europe by submarine cable. The cable facilitated the sending of troops to France by Morocco and Senegal when greatly needed.

Messrs. Siemens Brothers' unique and highly efficient telegraph ship " Faraday " - originally designed by the late Sir William Siemens, F.R.S. - also achieved much during the course of the war on behalf of the British Post Office, which had at one time in commission practically every telegraph ship available, including the largest (T. S. " Colonia ").

Even though observing constant vigilance, a telegraph ship, when effecting a repair, being deprived of manoeuvring powers by attachment to the cable, is peculiarly vulnerable to anything like a torpedo attack. It is, therefore, something to be able to say that the Post Office kept Britain and the European continent in continuous electrical communication. During the early part of the war telegraph ships went about their business alone and unattended, but with the development of intense submarine warfare naval escorts had to be provided by the Admiralty. Escorts are not, however, a safeguard against submerged mines, and so it was that the old " Monarch " met her fate, going down with her flag flying. On one occasion a telegraph ship on repairing work hove up a mine with the cable, but beyond damage to machinery and breakage of crockery, no harm was done.

Apart from the disposal of four of the world's telegraph fleet,' there were only two instances of Germany getting the best of things in the matter of cable communication. Within the first year of the war, a German man-of-war landed a party on the deserted beach of Fanning I., and this party succeeded in cutting the All-British Pacific cable there. The other case was that of the "Eastern" cable landed at Keeling-Cocos. Here again the attacking party from the " Emden " succeeded in cutting the cables, 2 but an alarm signal which had been got through led to the " Emden's " final doom. In this case great enterprise was shown by the " Eastern " Co.'s superintendent, and in neither instance was the interruption very serious or lengthy. Though there were only these two cases of enemy disturbance of the Allies' cables, many were rendered dumb from the wear and tear of four years, during which time it was impossible to effect repairs, for lack of suitable ships and the risk of exposing slowmoving vessels to enemy attack.

1 The total number of such vessels in 1921 was 49, of which some half dozen were owned by contractors for the original laying of ocean cables, the rest being smaller vessels, of the cable working companies, for subsequent repairing operations.

2 The officials in charge had, however, prepared a ruse by utilizing some spare cable as a dummy, and this dummy the Germans solemnly cut.

During the latter part of the war, the American submarine cables on the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean coasts were taken under control of the United States Government. Inter alia there was a feeling that considerable advantage would attach to the coordination of all the telegraph systems throughout the country. Eventually (Nov. 2 1918) the U.S. Postmaster-General also assumed administrative control of all cable landing on U.S. territory, after the necessary negotiations with other countries concerned had been carried through. Control ended on May 2 1919.

1 Post-war Developments

2 Working Developments

3 Cables and Commerce

4 BIBLIOGRAPHY

Post-war Developments

War wastage, the banning of private codes, considerable general increase of traffic 3 (partly owing to absence of mails) and voluminous Government messages, were all responsible for an appalling cable congestion during the war, the result being several days' - sometimes even weeks' - delay in the transit of messages on most of the more important trunk lines. Though, after the Armistice things became somewhat easier, with the withdrawal of the censorship and the renewal of private codes, the ultimate delivery of cablegrams was even in 1921 a very slow business. When the Marconi Trans-Atlantic wireless service was re-established some measure of relief was felt. Unfortunately, however, it was only capable of dealing with a small proportion of the ordinary prevailing cable traffic. The hampering of trade, during the war, by the prohibition of most private cable codes, was very considerable. To take an example, a certain firm had been in the habit of sending every week some 40 cablegrams at an average of £1 each. The cost of the same messages in plain English would have been some £320.

Most of the cables requiring repairs after the war had been attended to by 1921, but there was still considerable delay on cablegrams, even though the lines were being worked at their full capacity, day and night.

When it is remembered that in the year before the war (1913) 826,000 messages passed through the two Atlantic cables then' connecting the United States with Germany, 4 it will be realized what it meant to American commerce alone to be deprived of these direct cable connexions. In 1921 it was planned to lay a new Atlantic cable between the two countries, and to extend the German cable that had been taken into Brest by the French, as a compromise, to central or northern Europe with a landing en route off Denmark.

Ever since all of what were formerly British Atlantic cables passed, in 1912, into the administrative hands of the Western' Union Telegraph Co. of America, the British Government had been strongly urged - as, indeed, for many years previously - to establish a State Atlantic Cable as a connecting link with the All-British Pacific Cable. The war only served to accentuate this view. Whilst the capture and diversion of the German Atlantic Cable (taken into Penzance and Halifax) went some way to meet requirements, this line had not only been irregular in its performance but much congested with traffic, largely American. When therefore, in 1919, the Western Union Co. brought to an end their lease of the Direct United States Co.'s cable system - between Ballinskelligs (Ireland), Halifax (Nova Scotia) and Halifax - Rye Beach (United States) - on the ground of it being so constantly out of operation - the British Government entered into negotiations, towards the end of 1920, for the purchase of the line at a cost of £570,000, or scarcely more than half the value of a new cable. When this is given effect the line - together with the Imperial Pacific Line - will form a complete and strictly "All Red" route between the Mother Country and Australia. Though the line (originally laid in 1874) is even of. more ancient order than the ex-German cables, British Imperial needs will, to a great extent, be met. The shortcomings will be further met when a Canadian land line, connecting the All-. British Atlantic and Pacific Cables, is provided.

The All-British Pacific Cable, first laid in 1902, has more than justified itself. During its first year scarcely more than 200,000 In the case of the Eastern Co.'s system this was more than doubled by the war. Thus, the annual gross receipts of the company were about £2,000,000 more than previously, and much the same applies to others in the same group.

4 In actual fact these cables accounted for 32% of the total traffic of the Commercial Cable Company.

words were sent. Ten years later, the volume of traffic had been increased ten-fold. The war brought this up to some 26,000 words per day, or about 9,500,000 words per annum. Notwithstanding the large capital cost of this line (£2,000,000) it produced a gross profit of 9 4,000 for the year 1920, whilst its reserve fund stood at nearly I,107,000. To illustrate the high strategic value of the line, during the war, if the Allies had happened to be - even temporarily - deprived of naval control, the British Mediterranean cables would undoubtedly soon have been cut, which would have meant that British inter-imperial telegraphic communication could only have been secured by means of the All-British Pacific line. It had been felt for a long time that, since the Imperial Pacific cable was laid as far back as 1902, steps must be taken to duplicate it in order to provide against complete breakdown, as well as for dealing with over-congestion. In 1921, however, owing to the necessity for economy and to the high cost of materials, it seemed probable that this duplication would require to be limited, for the present, to the duplication of the long, slow working, section in very deep water, i.e. the 3,458 n.m. between Bamfield (Vancouver) and Fanning I., which runs into a depth of 3,400 fathoms (nearly 32 n.m.), and brings down the resultant speed on the whole line to a low figure.

Perhaps nothing contributed more in the past to the leading commercial position of Britain than her enterprise in the matter of telegraph cables. Fortunately, too, she also recognized that the problem of Empire is largely a problem of communication. Arising out of the war to some extent, there has been a general demand for a great deal more inter-communication, not only between different branches of the British Empire, but also between distant foreign countries. This demand must be met in the first place by a considerable addition to the world's cable system over and above those that were in operation previous to hostilities. The part of the British Empire which in 1921 was more especially badly served in the matter of telegraphic communication was the West Indies, where, largely owing to the nature of the sea bottom, the existing inter-insular lines (originally laid in 1870) were constantly breaking down.' But for " atmospherics " in these tropical regions, this would be an ideal case for " wireless." As it is, it would seem that an efficient air service would do most to improve prevailing shortcomings - at any rate for mail purposes, the steamer service being also very deficient. From a world standpoint, however, probably the most acute need for additional cable facilities is in the Pacific Ocean, for, while the traffic over the N. Atlantic cables has been practically quadrupled since 1913, Pacific cable traffic has increased nearly nine-fold.

The war also aroused the United States to her disadvantage in the matter of cable communication as compared with her trade rivals. Thus, on April 26 1921, the U.S. Senate passed a bill " to prevent unauthorized cable landings in the United States or any of its possessions." The bill gives the President sweeping authority also to issue, withhold and revoke licences as to cable landings, as well as for obtaining concessions for the United States in other parts of the world. Section 2 of the bill enables the President " to withhold or revoke such licence when satisfied such action will assist in obtaining for the landing or operation of cables in foreign countries or in maintaining the rights or interests of the United States." The President may grant such licence on such terms as will assure just and reasonable rates. The licence is not to give the licencee exclusive rights of landing or of operation, in the United States. The policy appears to be based chiefly upon considerations that shall guard against consolidation or amalgamation with other cable lines, while insisting upon reciprocal accommodation for American corporations and companies in foreign territory. In 1920 the U.S. authorities refused to allow a cable laid for the Western Union Co. to be landed at a point on the coast of Florida on the ground that it was intended for connecting up, via Barbados, with the " Western Telegraph " system (at Maranham) of a British company. 2 The American Govern 1 Report of the Royal Commission on Trade between Canada and the West Indies (Cd. 5369, 1910).

The prospects of trade with S. America are, in fact, so attractive that telegraphic communication therewith has been made a special ment considered that allowing such a cable to be laid would have lent colour to the British company having sole rights of communication between the United States and Brazil. As a matter of fact, another American company (All America Cables, Inc., of New York) 3 was also preparing to lay a cable to the Brazilian Coast, and it was thought by the U.S. Government that by acceding to the application of the Western Union Co., the claims to a monopoly being possibly established thereby might prevent the other cable being laid - a cable greatly to the interests of American trade with Brazil. The United States had evidently determined to establish its own system of cables throughout the world, partly for high national reasons, but also with a view to developing trade, especially with S. America.

France also has shown a disposition to be increasingly active and enterprising in this matter; likewise Japan.

International Cable Conference, /920-I. - Probably no telegraphic conference has ever been the scene of such acute disagreement on essential points as that which held sittings during parts of 1920 and 1921 at Washington. This was perhaps natural, when we remember (a) that Germany had been relieved of practically all her cables, ( b ) that the destiny of these cables was of first-rate importance to all the principal powers.

Soon after the confiscation of the German cables an agreement was entered into between Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan, whereby these ex-German lines were to be severally distributed amongst them. The United States having come into the war some time later, it was proposed at the Conference, that these cables should, as a substituted arrangement, become the joint property of the five Allies.

The actual diversion of the German Atlantic cables was completed by Great Britain in July 1917, and by France in Nov. 1917 - in both instances after the United States had joined the Allies. The American view was, therefore, that neither of these appropriations of cables between the Azores (Portuguese possessions) and the United States could be justified, seeing that both the United States and Portugal were already allied with England and France in the vigorous prosecution of the war. Then again, no single section of the ex-German cable in the Pacific touched Japanese soil, but one landed on American territory (Guam). Thus it was argued that it was something of an anomaly that the Japanese should ever have seized the German cable system, to the great detriment of American trade with China and the Philippines - and correspondingly to their own (Japanese) advantage.

There were probably few matters that could, in principle, be dealt with so suitably by the League of Nations as those associated with international telegraphic communication. But that could only apply if, and when, the United States joined the League, or, on the other hand, in instances where America was in no way concerned. With ex-German islands and cables, however, it was quite clear that the United States was very much concerned. Further, there was no nation whose interests were liable to be so much affected by the mandate as regards Yap - more especially in reference to the cable - as the United States. The control of telegraphic communication between that island and China meant much to Japan. On the other hand, such an arrangement was regarded as contrary to American interests. In these circumstances, seeing that the United States was one of the" principal Allied and Associated Powers," the question was raised why such a mandate was ever granted to Japan without the assent of the United States. However, the Yap difficulty was eventually settled, so as to preserve American rights, at the Washington Conference in Dec. 1921 (see Japan; also Washington Conference).

consideration of recent years both in Britain as well as in the United States. Thus, in order to improve the then existing facilities, a cable was laid in 1910 by the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co. between St. Vincent, Ascension and Buenos Aires, these sections now forming a part of the Western Union Telegraph Co.'s system. In 1920, the same company laid a cable between Maranham and Barbados.

3 Formerly the Central & S. American Telegraph Co., with lines down the W. coast of the American continent.

It was perhaps in the nature of things that those countriessuch as the United States-which were in a less favourable position in the matter of cable ownership should especially desire the internationalization or neutralization of cables. Certainly, the neutralization and internationalization of cable systems might have one advantage, i.e. bring to an end the suspicions, right or wrong, that messages concerning another country were delayed, scrutinized, tampered with, etc. Such charges were largely due to keen commercial rivalry, and principally-if not entirely-a question of news agencies rather than cable companies. Any foundation they had was probably more or less closely limited to the war, when certainly Canada was very ill-supplied with news from Europe-or indeed, with reference to Imperial matterswhilst over-abundantly informed of trouble in Ireland.

Strategic Cables.-Unless the strict neutralization of cables becomes the order of the day, under the League of Nations or otherwise, the best principle would probably be that every country should-partly for strategical reasons-establish for itself many more cables on a variety of routes well clear of foreign soil. These should be worked on a low rate basis for the general encouragement of intercommunication, but especially for developing commerce and trade. They should be supplemented by wireless, which is already in use as feeders to the cable systems. There can be no question that messages passing through cables touching foreign territory are insecure. If the cable lands on an enemy's country, the message is stopped or read off, and if on neutral soil, it runs the chance of also finding its way to the enemy, if only because a country which is neutral to-day may be unfriendly to-morrow. A clear distinction must be observed between an international submarine cable and a national cable. An international cable is one which connects the territory of different independent states; a national submarine cable is one which unites the territory or the colonial possessions of a single independent state. The character of the charter or ownership of a submarine cable determines whether it should be deemed foreign or national in respect to a particular state. Apart from their great strategic value, the Chambers of Commerce of practically every important town in the United Kingdom have, on strictly business grounds, loudly urged for a system of All-British cables worked at comparatively easy rates. The same course has also been taken at various influential congresses of the Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire, partly with a view to ensuring against enemy interruptions and eavesdropping. Promoters of private enterprise are indisposed to undertake the laying of cables of a strategic, rather than commercial, order. On the other hand, the cables on the trade routes-through the Mediterranean, etc.-are especially liable to interruption, much more so than those in the open ocean.

Cable Tarif f .-The ordinary cable rates, though showing material reduction from those of the earliest days, were in 1921 still very high from the public standpoint.' For financial reasons, they were largely based on the length of cable involved (see accompanying table), whereas it is just in the case of especially great distances that the cablegram is at an advantage against the mail boat. Here is a striking case where public (i.e. national) and private interests necessarily clash, and where, of course, national interests should be made supreme. This, it is to be feared, can be done only by adequate state control.

In the final report (Cd. 8462) of the Dominions Royal Commission in 1917 expression was given to the view that " charges are very high, the scales extremely complicated and their justification difficult to recognize." The report goes on to say: " The popularization of the cable service can only come with a simplification of the charges and their radical reduction; at present outside its commercial use cable communication is a luxury." In 1912 a system of half rates for plain-language cablegrams deferred in transmission for 24 hours was introduced after many years' outside pressure. This reform marks something of an epoch in the history of cable telegraphy, and has, in due course, become universal. Week-end cablegrams at a reduced rate were ' Some of the more recent reductions may possibly be due in part to the competition-such as it is-of wireless telegraphy.

Principal British, etc., cable route stations, with approximate cable distances from London, and tariff, ordinary rate, therefrom.

Station

Approxi-

mate cable

mileage

Ordinary

rate

s.

d.

Madeira.. .

1, 617

I

St. Vincent.. .

.

.

2 ,744

2

2

Ascension.. .

4,519

2

0

St. Helena .

5,307

2

0

Cape Town .

.

7,199

2

0

Gibraltar.. .

1, 501

0

Malta .

2,618

0

4

Alexandria.. .

3, 483

1

Port Said.. .

3,636

I

0

Aden .

5,065

2

0

Bombay.. .

6,910

1

Colombo.. .

7, 328

1

8

Penang.. .

.

.

.

8, 735

2

10

Singapore.. .

.

.

9,135

2

10

Labuan

.

.

9,869

2

10

Hong-Kong.. .

.

10, 6 57

3

0

Shanghai.. .

.

.

11,584

3

0

Zanzibar.. .

.

7,024

2

0

Seychelles.. .

.

8,145

2

0

Mauritius.. .

9,210

2

6

Fremantle .

14,289

3

0

Adelaide .

.

.

.

15,834

3

0

Melbourne.. .

.

16,500

3

0

Tasmania.. .

.

16,700

3

0

Bathurst.. .

.

.

.

3,319

2

6

Sierra Leone. .

.

.

.

3, 7 8 5

2

6

Accra. .

.

.

.

4, 807

3

0

Lagos.. .

5, 0 79

3

Bonny. .. .

5,400

3

0

Newfoundland. .

.

2, 410

I

Nova Scotia. .

.

2,727

I

0

Halifax .

.

.

.

3,150

Montreal. .

3, 7 7 7

I

0

Vancouver.. .

6, 677

Fanning Island. .

.

.

.

10,358

2

Fiji (Suva).. .

.

.

.

12,401

2

Norfolk Island.

.

.

.

13,383

2

Queensland .

14,220

3

Auckland. .

14,101

2

Nelson. .

14, 55 0

2

8

Sydney.. .

1 5,35 2

3

0

Bermuda

4,000

2

6

Jamaica. .

5,264

2

Colon.. .

.

5, 894

2

Barbados.. .

6, 542

2

6

Trinidad .

.

.

.

6,621

2

6

Pernambuco. .

.

.

4,606

I

de Janeiro. .

5,973

2

7

Montevideo. .

.

.

.

7,135

2

9

also introduced a little later, this being further supplemented by reduced rates for press messages between Britain and her Dominions. There is also now the " cable letter " service which offers even more favourable rates.

With practically all the great cable companies, the tariffs were maintained throughout the war at the same normal figure, whilst considerably more business was done than under peace conditions. A great increase in Government messages occurred, and the suspension of private codes added vastly to the length of most business telegrams, not to mention the continuous flow of extensive press " cables " relating to the war. Then, again, an enormous number of messages were sent such as in normal times -free from postal shortcomings-would be limited to ordinary written correspondence or to " deferred " traffic, which was abandoned by most of the cable companies throughout hostilities. The net result was that these organizations, unlike railway companies, not only maintained their reserves, but very materially added to them during the war. The best explanation here is to be found in the fact that cable repairs to be faced after the long period of warfare were altogether abnormal, though it must be remembered most of the companies concerned already had enormous reserves. The principal exception is the case of the Central and South American Telegraph Co., combined with the Mexican Telegraph Co. (the former operating what are now known as the All-America Cables), which, during the war, made large reductions in their tariff, even though, on the greater part of their r oute, holding a monopoly. The directors expressed their conviction that (a) the cable performs a very special mission during Warfare, and (b ) it plays a highly important part in the fostering of trade relations. They were, therefore, determined to aid in every way possible the efforts to maintain and extend the already large trade between the United States and the countries of Central;and S. America.

It must not be forgotten that an essential accompaniment to a t ow telegraph tariff is many more communicating strings; otherwise, the congested condition only becomes worse congested. On he other hand, it is also only by great developments - of one Sort and another - in our means of communication that an inreased, as well as cheaper, telegraphic output can be secured.

I Nationalization. - One result of the Dominions Royal CommisSion.'s exhaustive inquiry was the following expression of opinion.' " We feel bound, however, to record our opinion that at no distant date the nationalization of the private cable companies ill become one of the most urgent problems for statesmanship." heir report states further:-" It appears difficult, if not impossible, to attain the desired cheapness of cable communication, as to the importance of which we hold the strongest views, without interfering with the rights of private companies." Again: - " The urgency of placing cable communication on such a footing that h would be available, not only to the rich, but to all classes, not only to the merchant, but also to the private individual, is manifest: and imperative." But it must not be forgotten that the world is indebted, in the first instance, to the enterprise of private companies for the establishment of submarine cable communication. Some of the companies have, certainly been assisted in their enterprise by large Government subsidies. 2 Moreover, these companies have m et with rich returns over their enterprise.

I Telegraph Control Board. - Whether State ownership should ever be adopted by a country is, of course, a large question, but it seems obvious that in national and imperial interests a measure ff State control is desirable in the matter of inter-imperial cornunications generally. A controlling organization of one sort or another appears to be called for, if only for watching and securing public interests, where clashing with private interests, in return for favours granted by the State.

In the case of Great Britain there are no less than seven Government departments (in addition to the Treasury) concerned in this matter. Hitherto one of these alone (the Post Office) has been acting for the Government, and all questions regarding other departmental interests had to be submitted to the Post Office. This was never very satisfactory in the result.

Name of

Company

Amou n t

° s i lly

Period of

Subsidy

Cables for which

Subsidy granted

Eastern Telegraph

4,500

20 years from

Sierra Leone-

Co.

April 24 1901.

Ascension.

Eastern & S. Afri-

(28,000

20 years from

Zanzibar-Seychelles-

can Telegraph

Nov. 1893.

Mauritius.

Co.

113,500

20 years from

Jan. I 1900.

Three S. African

cables.

Eastern Extension

4,000

Indefinite.

Chefoo-Weihaiwei.

Co.

Direct West India

8,000

20 years from

Bermuda-Jamaica.

Co. _

, :

Feb. 1 1898.

A British inter-departmental board to deal with inter-departmental telegraphs of all sorts has been advocated for many years. By this scheme, all the Government departments concerned were to be represented and to meet periodically to discuss and settle all important matters as they arose. The war made it clear to the British Government that something of the sort was necessary; and Jan. I 1919 saw the establishment of such a committee, the whole coming under tilt aegis of the Committee of Imperial De ' Final Report (Cd. 8462 of r917). 2 These are as follows: - fence. Such a control board, or committee, becomes increasingly desirable in these days of wireless development, for a nice sense of impartiality and discrimination may be required for deciding what should be effected by cable and what by wireless.

Working Developments

The development of the art of submarine telegraphy was considerable during 1907-21 - not so much in relation to the cable itself as to the electrical apparatus for working it. These include the introduction of automatic relays (associated more especially with the names of the late Dr. Alexander Muirhead, F.R.S., and Mr. S. G. Brown, F.R.S.), on the Eastern, Western Union, All-British and CommercialPacific cables, as well as other wide-spread cable systems.

These have almost entirely superseded manual retransmission between cable sections. Secondly, the introduction of magnifiers (or amplifiers, as they are sometimes called), by rendering the signals more legible, has enabled the carrying capacity of the cables to be enormously increased, at the same time adding to their reliability in the matter of accuracy. Such devices are based on the published experiments of Charles Curtis in the United States and Edward Raymond-Barker in England, and emanate in turn from K. C. Cox, T. B. Dixon, Walter Judd, Angus Fraser, E. S. Heurtley and Axel Orling. The Heurtley magnifier has been very widely adopted by the Pacific Cable Board, the Eastern Association Companies, etc. In vastly improving the character of the signals, this type of apparatus achieves the net result of adding to the effective working speed in the same degree. Indeed, the later results with the Orling magnifier point to a speed increase of as much as 200 per cents Thirdly, automatic printing apparatus has been introduced on the land lines worked in conjunction with cables. This apparatus is for the most part due to Mr. F. G. Creed.

Then again, Maj.-Gen. G. O. Squier, Chief Signal Officer of the U.S. army, has experimented with alternating current generators for cable telegraphy, and his researches point to results of a highly advanced - as well as revolutionizing - character.

The Imperial Cable section of the "All Red" route is associated with some of the latest developments in cable telegraphy. The transmission both at London and Halifax is effected by what are known as converter cable transmitters. These are entirely automatic in their working, and, by the use of a switch, will take either Morse or cable type of perforation. There are automatic repeaters at each of the intermediate stations. One of these sections, i.e. Bamfield - Fanning, 3,458 n.m., is the longest existing cable length, and has always been a source of great difficulty in the matter of speed as well as from a commercial point of view generally. In the circumstances, the results that have been achieved, by means of recent electrical devices, are very remarkable. It is, indeed, highly creditable that the score of a cricket match can be got through from Melbourne to London within 15 minutes, despite the six intermediate retransmitting points, over so great a total length. A few years earlier, such retransmissions were always effected manually. Now, however, automatic (ma= chine) repeaters are gradually becoming general for all extensive systems with a number of intervening cable sections. The average duplex working speed on the entire route (controlled by that of the long section) was formerly 18 words per minute, 3 but it has been very considerably increased by means of the Heurtley amplifier or magnifier. Something like a 40% increase in the simplex working speed (or 20% duplex) is claimed on this apparatus, which converts the microscopic signals associated with a long cable worked at high speed into characters of reasonable size. On the Atlantic sections some of the very latest de} vices have been introduced for the purposes of efficient and high speed working, such as had previously been adopted by the Eastern Associated Telegraph Companies. In the main, the plan is that of Morse working in connexion with the Gulstad Relay, so that the speed of connecting land lines is brought up to that of cable code working. 4 The Eastern Compa s Nearly all long cables are now worked on the duplex system.

4 On the Indian Government (Persian Gulf) system between Basra and Karachi, the speed for land line Morse was actually raised from 35 to 75 words per minute. 1 Hies have further greatly added to the efficiency of their system by means of the Creed Printer, which is also installed on the Atlantic section of the "All Red" route, as well as in connexion with Wheatstone high-speed working on the Pacific cable land line system between Melbourne and Sydney.

A Stock Exchange Telegraph Service of a highly efficient order was established some years ago between London and New York. So efficient is this that messages are got through within ten minutes. Something like 2,500 such messages are transmitted between thetwo Stock Exchanges during an afternoon.

Cables and Commerce

In pre-cable days each country was, in large measure, an independent commercial unit. The submarine cable has done much to alter that state of things. Whereas in 1870 the total value of the commerce between the United States and Great Britain was about X90,000,000, in the fiscal year ending June 30 1920 it was as much as f525,000,000. Besides the enormous increase in volume of business brought about by the extension of telegraphic service across the oceans, this quickened communication has also brought a complete change in business methods. It has, indeed, introduced an element of stability into international trade such as was seriously lacking when intercourse depended solely on the mail.

The World War has tended also to increase cable traffic because of changed business habits. During the early months of the conflict a rigorous censorship on cable messages was enforced by the Allied Governments. At first codes of all kinds were prohibited, and although this regulation was subsequently modified to allow the use of ordinary commercial codes, private codes and lighter messages were stopped. As a result, many business firms discovered that for much of their cable business the time and labour spent in coding and decoding - as well as the errors which are inevitable in the transmission of unintelligible matter - made messages in plain language only slightly more expensive than code: The result after the war has been a considerable increase in the percentage of plain-language messages. Another factor in the greater traffic has been the increased use of the cables for transactions which were formerly carried on by mail. This has been due partly to changed conditions which have made speedy communication more than ever necessary, and partly to the fact that the business houses, which were forced to increase their use of the cables during the war, have continued to do so on discovering the great convenience of cable communication in comparison with the mail.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Sir Charles Bright, Telegraphy, Aeronautics and War (1918) and Inter-Imperial Communication through Cable, Wireless and Air (Paper to the British Association, Sept. 12 1919); Post Office Electrical Engineers' Journal (1919-20); Telegraph and Telephone Journal (1921). (C. BR.*)


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Submarine Cable Telegraphy'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/s/submarine-cable-telegraphy.html. 1910.

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