Orange Marine
The Leon Thevenin. Supplied by Orange Marine.
  • Expected to leave Cape Town harbour today, the Leon Thevenin has an incredible 6,000 kilometre journey up the West Coast of Africa to near Gabon.
  • The vessel will need about 6 days to arrive to the area where the first cable. Then, at least 48 hours will be needed to repair the cables, its owner company Orange Marine told Business Insider South Africa.
  • Here’s some more about the ship tasked with bringing South Africa’s internet back online.
  • For more stories, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za  

Still expected to leave Cape Town harbour later today, the Leon Thevenin - the cable repair ship entrusted with fixing SA’s slow internet - has an incredible more than 6,000 kilometre journey up the West Coast of Africa to near Gabon – it’s not something this 107-metre maintenance cable layer is unused to.

The vessel, which forms part of a fleet of vessels owned by Orange Marine, which then falls under under the R700 billion French telecommunications company Orange Group as subsidary, has been ploughing through rough oceans for over 29 years and holds a maritime record for 230 repairs on cables in the Atlantic Ocean Agreement (ACMA).  

Photograph Jay Caboz
The Leon Thevenin in Cape Town harbour. Expected to leave this evening. Photograph Jay Caboz.

“The vessel will need about 6 days to arrive to the areas where the cables have been cut. Then, at least 48 hours will be needed to repair the cables,” Krista Limousin, Orange Group Press Office, told Business Insider South Africa.

Since 2013 its main base of operations has been out of Cape Town and it oversees the maintenance operations for the South Atlantic and Indian ocean cables. It performs a quarter of the repairs in the Atlantic Ocean out of 30 vessels operating on this contract in this area, says Orange Marine.

Commercial undersea cable communications carry over 97% of all intercontinental electronic communications.

Here's some more about the ship tasked with bringing South Africa’s internet back online:


Built in 1983 Leon Thevenin is a multipurpose cable ship specialising in maintenance operations.

The ship is known for its speed and efficiency of her interventions, even under extreme weather conditions. At full load it can travel at 15 knots, almost 30 kilometres per hour.


Its bows are located 8 metres above the sea level allowing it to work in sea state 6, with waves up to 6 metres high.  


It has 73 cabins: 52 single cabins and 21 double cabins for crew.


It’s equipped with traditional cable works tools – grapnels, buoys, ropes, dead-weights but also a Hector 5 Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV). 


Hector 5 is used for different operations on the fibre optic cables: detection, cutting, recovery, jointing and testing.

Hector are powerful and full customised work class ROVs dedicated for cable works. The Hector ROVs are specialised in burial by jetting after the laying of repaired cables. They can also operate surveys. Their HD video cameras allow finding cables down to 2,000 m depth.


The Thevenin is capable of operating repairs in very shallow waters, as well as in deep waters – between 10 and 7,000 metres.


It’s been a resident in Cape Town harbour since 2013. 


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