Shetland cable break cuts off communications

© Craig Stephen
Scottish Sea Farms site at Slocka, Shetland

Fish farmers were among the businesses and households in Shetland finding themselves cut off from communications after the south subsea cable between the islands and the Scottish mainland was damaged.

Phones, the Internet and IT links were affected and Police Scotland have declared a major incident. Repairs are still ongoing to the cable connecting Shetland and Faroe, which was also damaged last week.

Colin Kupris, IT Operations and Infrastructure Leader with Scottish Sea Farms, which has a number of farm sites in Shetland, oversaw the work to reconnect essential business services for the company’s operations.

He said: “The outage occurred around midnight, affecting services across Shetland – our own farms and facilities included.

“One of our local providers, Shetland Telecom, was able to restore service around 4am, bringing our Girlsta Hatchery and Gremista processing facility back online.

“Thanks to their efforts in the early hours, our own in-house IT & Data team were then able to extend that connectivity out to our wider network, with Pundsvoe, Gonfirth and Setterness shore bases coming back online around 11am and our Scalloway processing facility by 12 noon.

“Normal business has since resumed across almost all of our Shetland operations, meaning there has been minimal disruption to customers.

“Services from our other communications providers now appear to be coming back online but the Shetland Telecom team will go down as the heroes of the day.”

Colin Kupris, Scottish Sea Farms

Joel Richardson, Vice President, Public Relations with Cooke Aquaculture, said: “Like all others in Shetland, our operations were temporarily impacted by the loss of communications connectivity via the subsea cable between the islands and the mainland.

“Cooke Aquaculture Scotland in Shetland has implemented its systems business continuity plan. Internet and mobile communications are now back up and running.

“We greatly appreciate the work engineers and technicians are performing to restore connectivity quickly.”

The authorities are reported to believe that the damage was caused accidentally by a fishing trawler.

Police Superintendent David Ross said: “We are advising people not to make non-urgent calls for the time being so that all available lines can be used for emergencies if required… officers are patrolling in vehicles and on foot and we are working with partners to make additional resources available.”