The owners of a ship that caused damage to the Coral Sea (CS²) subsea cable in the Solomon Islands are set to face charges.

The incident, which took place on May 12 when the ship's anchor damaged the cable, led to disruption in Malaita and the Western and Choiseul Provinces.

According to local publication SBM Online, the ship has been detained, while its master and owner will face charges.

Solomon Islands
– Getty Images

The vessel has been detained due to technical deficiencies, including the absence of updated navigational charts, per the director of Solomon Islands Maritime Authority Thierry Nervale.

“I cannot confirm how long the vessel will be detained but we are now considering charging the master and the owner for mismanagement that led to the damage of our submarine cable," said Nervale.

The vessel has been identified as Fu Kuon No 808, which currently anchors off Rove water-front according to the article, as an investigation continues.

SBM also revealed that Nervale told the publication that the Solomon Islands Submarine Cable Company (SISCC) has previously worked to ensure the submarine cables are clearly marked and visible at all times.

The SISCC, which was formed as a 100 percent government-backed JV in 2016, is putting together a case through its lawyers against the ship, with a case expected to be filed this month.

The cable is not expected to be repaired until next month, as the ship needed won't arrive until June 20.

Following the damage to the cable, services to the three provinces were impacted, while operator Solomon Telekom (also known as Breeze) has slowly restored its services, noting that all services in Malaita are back up and running.

Work is ongoing to restore services to other parts of the Solomon Islands including Taro, Western Province, and Noro.

The Coral Sea Cable System and the Solomon Islands Domestic Network were completed by a majority grant-funded project by the Commonwealth of Australia in late 2019, while the SISCC began commercial operations in February 2020.

The 4,700km long cable system links Sydney, Australia, to Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, and Honiara, Solomon Islands. A second, 730km cable connects Honiara to Auki (Malaita Island), Noro (New Georgia Island), and Taro Island.

The four fiber-pair system delivers 20Tbps of capacity to Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands respectively, for a total capacity of 40Tbps.

Earlier this month, a long-running battle against a Maersk ship captain accused of causing damage to Vocus' Australia Singapore Cable (ASC) back in 2021 was discontinued.

The Maersk Surabaya was behind the August 2021 submarine cable break, which caused around AU$1.5 million (US$1m) in damages.

The incident led to the arrest of the ship captain for allegedly engaging in negligent conduct as the Master of a maritime vessel after they were accused of anchor-dragging.