Moving 9 1/2 Miles of Cable in a Single Strand



How do you transport 9 1/2 miles of armored underwater electrical cable cross-country? Very carefully, in specially designed rail cars.

At least thatís how it was done recently when Norfolk Southern helped move the 52,000 foot, 224-ton cable to its final resting place at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The cable will soon supply electric power to Platform Edith, Chevron USA's newest offshore oil rig, located off the coast of Los Angeles in the San Pedro Channel.

The journey began in Culpeper, Va. Where the Rochester Corporation armored the lengthy cable for the Kerite Company of Seymour, Conn. Rochester is one of the few companies in the world that can provide the armor necessary to withstand the extreme underwater pressure and harsh environmental conditions of coastal California and the Pacific Ocean.

Transporting the cable from Culpeper to the West Coast was the real challenge, though, because the cable has to move in one continuous length. In fact, Rochester would not even bid on the job unless it was certain the transportation details could be worked out.

Rochester officials called Norfolk Southern Sales Representative W.E. Baker in Lynchburg to see if the job could be done. Mechanical, Customer Service, Marketing, and Sales worked together on the project. It took three months to iron out the details, which included the lease of the rail siding and four gondolas, and several other special considerations. The lease cars were semi-permanently linked, and a special reel was installed on a flatcar.

To move the cable from the plant to the Norfolk Southern rail siding some 150 feet away, Rochester knocked a hole in a factory wall and used a portable conveyor. The first 8000 feet of cable was sound on a flatcar reel. The cable then was laid to the end of the flatcar and looped over into the first gondola. After each gondola was loaded, the cable was then looped up and over to the next gondola, with a brace and frame supporting each car-to-car loop. The car left Culpeper on June 23 and moved over Norfolk Southern to Kansas City, Mo. The Santa Fe Railway took over the shipment for the last leg of the journey to El Segundo, Calif.

The cable will link the El Segundo power substation wiht the production platform; the first 8,000 feet will be buried in conduit, The remainder of the cable will run through shore turbulence and a reef before reaching deep water, where the cable rests on the ocean floor.

The cable will supply Platform Edith with 35,000 volts of electricity and eliminates the need for platform diesel engines and generators to supply power. Such a system will save space on the platform and increase safety by reducing the potential hazard of on-board storage of diesel fuel.

Because of Norfolk Southern's innovative marketing/transportation package, Rochester was able to bid on and win the job. The ability to ship cable traffic has opened a whole new market for the firm, and has opened a new source of business for Norfolk Southern as well.

The abovepictures and text were taken from the September/October 1982 issue of

Norfolk Southern World Magazine.