Colombo Dockyard Delivers Unique Cable Layer to France’s Orange Marine

cable layer
Sophie Germain in a unique niche vessel built to maintain subsea fiber optic and power cables (Orange Marine)

Published Aug 4, 2023 9:50 PM by The Maritime Executive

Colombo Dockyard in Sri Lanka recently delivered a newly built Cable Laying and repair Vessel to France’s Orange Marine. The unique vessel, which was designed by Vard, is specially outfitted for the maintenance of submarine cables, both fiber-optic telecommunication cables and inter-array power cables used in offshore wind farms.

Named Sophie Germain, the vessel departed Sri Lanka at the beginning of this week and is now bound for the Mediterranean. She is scheduled to arrive at the company’s operational base in La Seyne sur Mer, France in mid-August. 

Cable layers are a unique niche in the maritime industry today with a report indicating there are only 60 cable ships currently operating in the world. France has the largest feet of cable layers with Orange Marine representing a reported 15 percent of the global fleet in the sector.



The new vessel is 328 feet in length and has a beam of approximately 62 feet. It is 1,800 dwt and can operate at speeds of up to 14.5 knots. The vessel has three cable tanks to carry fiber optic and power cables and facilities to accommodate up to 76 people. Once in operation in addition to the crew to operate the vessel it will house engineers and technicians for the cable operations.

At 8,000 gross tons, the Sophie Germain is one of the biggest and most modern ships in this unique category of shipping. She is outfitted with hybrid propulsion, AZIPOD propellers, and a new ALPHA ROV built by Orange's SIMEC department in Provence, which will make her also one of the most efficient maintenance cable ships.

Colombo Dockyard, operating in collaboration with Onomichi Dockyard Company Limited of Japan, highlights that the vessel is the second cable layer it has built in the past five years giving it a unique expertise in this nice. The vessel is also the first to be built in Sri Lanka for the European market. 



The ceremonial delivery of Sophie Germain took place on July 28 at the shipyard and was attended by the owners, as well as dignitaries from the Embassies of France and Japan in Sri Lanka, officials from the government, and the Sri Lanka Navy. During the ceremony, Emmanuel Decugis, the Ship Newbuilding Project Director of Orange Marine, broke the traditional Sri Lankan milk pot to symbolize the delivery of the ship. 

Today, 95 percent of daily global communications pass through the thousands of miles of cables that cover the seabed. The companies highlighted the importance of having the ability to maintain this critical infrastructure which grows more important as offshore energy takes an increasingly important role.

Registered in France, the Sophie Germain will be deployed to replace the 40-year-old vessel Raymond Croze. She will be based in the Mediterranean and  her initial assignment will be for the maintenance of submarine cables maintained under the Mediterranean Cable Maintenance Agreement which oversees 71,000 kilometers of cables in the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Black Sea, working together with the Antonio Meucci, Elettra Tlc’s cable ship based in Catania.