The Internet as We Know It Depends on 22 Ships

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If a undersea cable breaks?

And breaks do happen, with some regularity: about 200 times a year. When they occur, there are just 22 ships designed to repair them, staffed by an increasingly aging set of workers. Their task is one of “precision engineering on a shifting sea using heavy metal hooks and high-tension lines that, if they snap, can cut a person in half,” writes Dzieza, who details the intense and “extraordinarily delicate” process through a tense lens: the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami that hit Japan and caused the Fukushima disaster. Seven of Japan’s 12 transpacific cables were severed, likely by underwater avalanches caused by the quake. The cable maintenance ship Ocean Link worked nonstop for 154 days to repair many of them. (Read the fascinating full story here.)

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