Deltares to Research Undersea Cables Protection

Deltares to Research Undersea Cables Protection

Deltares aims to team up with other research institutes and the corporate sector to launch an international research project looking at the protection of undersea cables.

The standards in place at present are relatively conservative and open to interpretation. By studying the question, Deltares hopes to establish specific standards for each type of subsurface that can be used as guidelines by the parties involved. It is expected that this will result in major savings for companies and make offshore energy more affordable.


Deltares wants to conduct the research in the form of a Joint Industry Project (JIP) to be known as ‘JIP Safetrench’. JIPs are alliances in which companies and research institutes can team up to develop solutions for issues affecting the companies involved. All the participants share the costs, making research more accessible to business. Deltares is already a partner in a range of JIPs, both as a lead partner and as a participant.


A range of international research institutes have already expressed an interest in JIP Safetrench. Deltares is now looking for companies who wish to participate. The research will be of particular interest for owners of undersea cable networks such as wind-energy companies, energy exporters and contractors. Local government authorities will also have an interest related to permit procedures and they can participate.

Damage in millions

Dirk Luger, a specialist with Deltares and a driving force behind JIP Safetrench: ‘The increase in the number of wind farms at sea and the number of communications cables means that the cable network is becoming increasingly dense, particularly in European seas. So the probability of accidents with falling or dragging anchors as ships pass is also on the rise. It doesn’t happen often but damage inflicted on cables by anchors can run into millions.’


As a result, proper, tailored protection is needed but little research has been conducted into the appropriate standards. Dirk Luger: ‘JIP Safetrench will fill this gap. Our research will produce a guideline that designers and permit authorities can use for a range of specific cases. If we can deliver more customised solutions, and state clearly what damage can be expected in which subsurfaces, the savings for society as a whole could be considerable.’

The goal is to launch JIP Safetrench in early 2014 for a maximum of two years.


Press Release, August 22, 2013


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