Protection of Submarine Cables

AssetMonitor protects the BritNed interconnector: 260km of submarine electricity cable

ABB use AssetMonitor to monitor the BritNed submarine cable to prevent and record damage by fishing activity and vessels anchoring over the cable. Monitoring activities are now combined with intervention by guard vessels controlled by "Duty Managers".

Monitoring the construction and lay down of the BriTNed cable

In 2007, ABB - global leader in power and automation technologies, was contracted to construct and lay the BritNed cable. The BritNed cable was commissioned and handed over to its operational owners, BritNed Development Limited, mid 2011.

Although it lies deep below the sea, the BritNed cable has been at constant risk of damage from shipping throughout the construction phase and it will continue to face this danger now it is operational.

While under construction, damage to the already laid cable segments is particularly difficult to detect. The loss of electricity flow is more obvious after it becomes operational.


Britned consists of bundled power cables to connect Great Britain and The Netherlands

To address this risk, ABB commissioned guard vessels to patrol the entire length of the BritNed cable to investigate and report upon potentially dangerous vessel activity. The patrolling was successful but it relied upon structured and regular monitoring which was proving costly.

"I have found using the AssetMonitor service beneficial to this project, in so much as, utilising the guard vessels effectiveness, reducing the number of guard vessels required and having the ability to manage the system to address our concerns" Jack Adair, QHSE Manager, ABB

The decision to implement AssetMonitor


AssetMonitor web-based interface

 In 2010, while considering the use of AssetMonitor on BritNed and other interconnectors, National Grid advised ABB to make contact with Astrium GEO-Information Services. In early December 2010, Astrium met with ABB to devise an implementation of AssetMonitor that could be up and running extremely quickly. AssetMonitor is a web-based service that uses live vessel positions from AIS to help protect submarine assets, creating automatic warnings if an asset is at risk due to shipping activity.

In 4 weeks, the system was up and running

The AssetMonitor system went live in less than 4 weeks and Astrium has supported ABB in its use of AssetMonitor from this point on.

  • Astrium gave ABB instant access to AssetMonitor service into which was loaded the RPL (Route Position List) for the BritNed cable
  • In order to give ABB access to AssetMonitor as quickly as possible, Astrium set up a connection to an existing commercial AIS data source that covered most of BritNed’s route between the Isle of Grain and Maasvlakte
  • We also worked together to define protection zones around the BritNed cable such that any vessel exhibiting potentially dangerous activity could be detected and alerts raised to ABB staff. To detect this behaviour, AssetMonitor tests rules in the protection zones against AIS signals from vessels in the area that tell the system how the vessel is behaving in terms of speed, direction and change of course etc
  • In the future Astrium foresees that the eventual owners will erect directional AIS receivers that receive signals for the entire length of the BritNed cable

Thousands of euros are being saved by combining AssetMonitor with intervention by guard vessels

From the time of acceptance of the AssetMonitor service by ABB, they started to save thousands of euros per day that they were spending on manual monitoring of BritNed’s cable route.

AssetMonitor gives the assurance that if an asset is at risk due to shipping activity, an automatic warning is sent. The system is combined with guard vessel cover at the cable mid point. The collaboration extends to the delivery of AssetMonitor alerts to Duty Managers who then pass on the alerts to the guard vessels so that they can investigate immediately.

AssetMonitor helps protect the BritNed cable from damage and the massive outlay involved in fixing the damage. In the event that any damage to the BritNed cable occurs, AssetMonitor's store of historic data and its playback facility can be used as supporting evidence in subsequent cases of compensation.

The customer

ABB logo

ABB is a leader in power and automation technologies that enable utility and industry customers to improve their performance while lowering environmental impact.

The ABB Group of companies operates in around 100 countries and employs about 130,000 people.

ABB is one of the world’s most experienced cable suppliers with the capability and expertise to offer the full scope of supply in high voltage cable solutions, from system studies and design to manufacture, installation and commissioning.

The service

AssetMonitor® is a web-based service that uses live vessel positions from the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to help protect submarine and offshore assets such as electricity cables, telecoms cables, and oil and gas pipelines and platforms. Automatic warnings are created if an asset could be at risk due to shipping activity.

AssetMonitor gives the reassurance that submarine and offfshore assets are being monitored efficiently, that warnings will be produced if the assets could be at risk, and that vital evidence will be available if the asset is damaged.

Protection of Submarine Cables

 Did you know?

BritNed is one of the largest power transmission projects ever undertaken in Europe. The 260-kilometer BritNed link will allow energy trading between the UK and the Netherlands and increase the reliability of electricity supplies to both.


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