Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Basslink: The very secretive State Government …

*Pics: The damage … and the culprit? Geelong Star, before its renaming. And below, Basslink cable damage, including the gouge …



From a recent item in the Mercury there seems to be an irrationality creeping into the State Government’s stance on what happened to Basslink. The effort to maintain secrecy is getting weird, becoming technically contradictory.

There seems to be a paranoia to ensure that an internal electrical problem remains at the top of the possible cause for Basslink failure.

The first statements when Basslink failed indicated there was no operational or electrical reasons why the cable should have failed. It simply jumps to possible internal failure in subsequent press releases.

However, the “paucity” of information from official sources has allowed electrical myths to build up.

There is, however, much circumstantial evidence indicating that mechanical trauma caused the failure. Described in the columns of Tasmania Times by myself in recent weeks: Likely cause of Basslink failure is the Geelong Star and Is a door flying open on Geelong Star.

The most damning evidence is from the two official photos released on damaged sections of the cable (above). One showing the point of electrical failure and one showing superficial damage as if scraped by a moving object.

The point of electrical failure showed a severed single wire of the cables armour with a right angle cut on one end and the other end bent into the black of the cavity. This is the classic indication of mechanical puncture of a cable made by a suitably shaped moving object.

Information from UK on the European heavy fishing industry indicates that Dutch Seine trawl nets carry weights spaced along the lower mouth and have a profile design capable of inflicting the type of damage shown in the two official photographs. Geelong Star is of Dutch fishing technology.

From reports on a large number of cable failures happening every week in the Northern Hemisphere we know that trawler related damage is responsible for practically all cable failures in depths similar to the depth the Basslink fault was found. For more read the original article in Tasmanian Times, Likely cause of Basslink failure is the Geelong Star .

The comments that followed the article brought into question of the legality liability of fishing and vessels striking Basslink. This differed from my own understanding on the regulations. It does appear that it is voluntary for a fishing vessel to report possible contact with Basslink.

Clarification was sought by email from Basslink, who, as of writing has not replied.

The State Government’s seeming insistence on “internal electrical failure” does seem to pose the question, why?

Could it be that as long as doubt is maintained on the the type of damage then no investigative action can be taken by the State or Federal Police?

The police need only reasonable grounds to investigate. I have no doubt they can then access the electronic data of the position of any ships likely to damage Basslink at that specific time.

If Australian law does not place any wrongdoing on ships which accidentally hit Basslink, then why not say so … end of story.

However, in the “comments” from my previous Basslink article, there was another question raised: Are trawlers allowed to fish in Bass Strait.

One of the main arguments I put forward in my original article was related to net modifications made prior to Geelong Star sailing.

These modifications were a compulsory requirement by the Federal government because of well publicised by-catch issues on previous sailings. This included a whale shark.



I understand from within the fishing industry that net modifications can necessitate rebalancing the net’s buoyancy components for correct operation. These tests can be somewhat trial and error in nature.

It is not beyond reason that such testing of nets could have been undertaken by the Geelong Star on the way to the NSW fishing grounds.

It is also not beyond reason that after the required in-port net modifications she took a course to NSW fishing grounds which would, if initial trials were unsatisfactory, allow a quick return to port for further on-shore adjustments.

Would opening the nets in Bass Strait with fish gates open (fish would pass straight through the net) constitute a legal infringement of the rule of no fishing in Bass Strait?

The Geelong Star carried Commonwealth fishing inspectors, therefore, surely they must have known what was happening. It must be remembered that if no offence was committed then Commonwealth Officers quite correctly, would by law, not be able to make comments whatsoever.

So could Australian laws be acting against Australian interest?

The original tests were carried out at the cable manufacturer and then in a UK Laboratory which I suspect was at the behest (understandably) of the ultimate owner of the cable, a British Power company.

As indicated earlier cable damage is so common in the Northern Hemisphere that many similar examples almost certainly already exist.

Having worked in specialist industrial laboratories, I find hard to think of any better facilities. What is meant by “forensic” examination implies that there are criminal implications. From my knowledge of these situations a forensic laboratory examining the cable would refer the the work to the type of establishments that have already examined the cable.

To me this sounds like a “forensic” information delaying strategy.

A very significant point my article raised and “commented” on was: How did the repair crew choose the South end of the cable to start fault finding from?

The cable protection systems have no way knowing where this type of fault was located along the entire cable length.

The fault finding system can only test given lengths of cable. Having a rough idea of the fault location is vital for timely fault location.

Starting at the South end they only had to make one cut at sea before the next length tested revealed the fault.

This raises the question did Basslink use electronic position data on ship movements?

If you extrapolated the likely net-testing course of the Geelong Star – as outlined above – she could have been more South than normal before heading to NSW and could have crossed the cable where the fault was found.

Labor Leader Bryan Green’s office was one of the first to “comment” on my first article. Saying that original report tabled to State Parliament had so much censorship that it had little information other than already released.

Nearly all questions can be derived or narrowed from detailed examination of shipping navigational data. This was a common “comment” from the original article.

I – like many Tasmanians – am not interested in State Government’s conflicting verbal iterations within Parliament. Secrecy has been so tight on this matter by the State Government one would think it was the latest stealth fighter development program … not a piece of infrastructure so vital to Tasmanian people and industry.

People just want to know what actually did cause Basslink to fail.

Something that for some inexplicable reason the State Government does not want to be fully revealed.

*Bio of Kelvin Jones: Technically trained and qualified in the UK by a major electrical engineering manufacturing company in Power Engineering and industrial electronics, moving in to defence systems, commissioning RADAR and development of underwater weapons. TV transmission, field work and commissioning industrial electronics and HVAC carrier protection. Research in cellular and fibre optics communications. Field work on scientific, bio, and medical instrumentation with extensive experience on Medical Imaging particularly CT scanners and Nuclear imaging. Mature age university studies in computer science and Technology with emphasis on the viability of renewable energy technology on legacy power grids. Green by practical evolution.

• Pete Godfrey in Comments: Kelvin the only reason for secrecy, (other than that it is normal here) is that they know full well what the fault was caused by. If they were to say outright that a ship damaged the cable the insurance company would say Not Paying. So they have to maintain secrecy until the payment comes through …

Rosalie Woodruff: Groom Silent as Basslink Finances Fail

ABC: Tasmanian energy crisis: Government ‘closely monitoring’ troubled Basslink

Author Credits: [show_post_categories parent="no" parentcategory="writers" show = "category" hyperlink="yes"]


  1. Second Opinion

    October 23, 2016 at 5:23 pm

    Does look like a duel brewing. Hydro is looking for an impasse. Something like:
    Begone Basslink, and take your umbilicus with you.
    A fire-sale is in the offing.

  2. TGC

    October 20, 2016 at 10:06 pm

    #27 presumably knows what caused the ‘break’ so should settle for his? competence

  3. Clive Stott

    October 20, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Well put it this way if they don’t know what caused the fault by now then someone is incompetent.

  4. TGC

    October 20, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    #25 “…chronic Tasmanian dilemma-…unending cascade of incompetence and corruption”
    Not to be found in any other State- or Federally?
    Anyway- ‘incompetence’ is in us all at differing times and at differing rates- and ‘corruption’ is not restricted to “any authorities”
    By and large, whenever a poll is called in a range of areas and the voter casts an opinion – it is safe to assume a percentage – even all- of those elected will be ‘incompetent’ now and again- even frequently- just as the voter is an incompetent judge of those in contention- and it’s probably reasonably safe to accept that some of those elected will be ‘corrupt’ now or liable to be ‘corrupted’- even if that is at the trivial end of the scale- “I want to talk to you- let me buy you a beer…”!
    No ‘authority’ is immune from either ‘incompetence’ or ‘corruption’.

  5. john hayward

    October 20, 2016 at 9:35 am

    #24 put his finger on that chronic Tasmanian dilemma – there are never any authorities found responsible for the the unending cascade of incompetence and corruption.

    John Hayward

  6. TGC

    October 19, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    #2 Clearly has irrefutable evidence about the direct cause of the Basslink break.
    #2 therefore has a duty to reveal this evidence publicly and allow -if necessary- responsible authorities to respond and deal with the perpetrators.
    TT would be an excellent site on which to display the material in #2’s possession.

  7. Clive Stott

    October 18, 2016 at 6:36 pm

  8. Jed Stuart

    October 18, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    Governments are secretive all over nowadays. e.g. still questions around 9/11, not saying why they really invaded Iraq, not admitting project MKUltra covert control methods are still on in new forms, fascism well covered in the west? etc. It might not be the particulars of how the cable got damaged that they want to hide, but what those reveal about the overall situation in general. e.g it might have been a covert ET attack on Tasmania, but of course that would be absurd as we know that we are all alone in the universe.

  9. mike seabrook

    October 18, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    the problem is that the filthy latrobe valley brown coal electricity generators supplying the bass strait cable (electricity to on-sell to the aluminium smelter and the other pollies cronies at est. 4c per kwh delivered) is on the verge of shutting down for good to appease the vic lab-greens.

    not logical to pay north of 4c per kwh to the vics plus pay a full absorption cost of est.5c per kwh for transformation (*2) and transmission of dc electricity over the dodgy, half broken, undeterminant reliability and life bass strait cable and on-sell at est. 4c per kwh delivered ( est.60% of tassies electricity sales).

    note the silence from the tassie establishment and their cronies on this simple matter. what says john lawrence and ruth forest.

  10. Second Opinion

    October 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    Clive at #14,
    My IPad doesn’t operate on such medieval principles
    It has a mind of it’s own.
    I am putting my eggs in the manufacturing/ Cable laying basket.
    The fact that the cable failed around the 100km mark makes a case for the failure of the joint at that mark.. An ill defined signature for fault finding makes it probable that the “fault” was distributed along the cable.
    It was a clear case for hydrocephalus..
    I am willing to be proved wrong.

  11. Mick Kenny

    October 18, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Presumably internet service providers have now lost all confidence as potential customers of the Basslink cable. I suspect they haven’t forgotten the costs involved when things go bad, leaving them to the mercy of a market monopoly in seeking alternatives for their customers.

  12. Clive Stott

    October 18, 2016 at 9:37 am

    #17: Thanks for the link, haven’t read it yet though.

    BTW, when I copy and paste your full link into I/E or Firefox they both open up nicely 🙂
    Unfortunately TT hyperlinks only this first part of the address: http://infopub.sgx.com/FileOpen/1 and yes that won’t open.

  13. Second Opinion

    October 18, 2016 at 1:38 am

    Here is Keppel Infrastructure Trust’s statement to the Singapore Stock Exchange on 17 October 2016
    Basslink is discussed in Section10, on page 15 of 18

    http://infopub.sgx.com/FileOpen/1. KIT 3Q16 Financial Statements.ashx?App=Announcement&FileID=425129

    It doesn’t open in the browser, so good luck.

  14. Richard Kopf

    October 18, 2016 at 12:47 am

    The ABC reported on 18th October, “The cable’s only customer, the state-owned Hydro Tasmania, is still at loggerheads with Singaporean-owned Basslink over the cause of the fault, with the cable owner claiming a “force majeure” event, or unavoidable catastrophe.”

    Lightning is such a “force majeure” event. Adds support to my previous analysis that lightning strike was a likely cause. Certainly damage by the Geelong Star could not be described thus.

  15. Clive Stott

    October 17, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Kelvin and others if you haven’t have a look at Page 21 for a rundown on Basslink’s Siemens WIN-TDC Protection and Control equipment.
    http://www.energy.siemens.com/br/pool/hq/power-transmission/HVDC/WIN-TDC_neues CD.pdf

    Why don’t Siemens come out and say the fault was none of their doing, if it wasn’t?

    How come so much cable had to be replaced (supposedly water got in) when new generations of mass -impregnated paper or XPLE insulations are made of high-density and high viscosity compounds whose properties and function are not pressure influenced?

    Why don’t Prysmian come out and say it wasn’t a cable manufacturing fault if it wasn’t?

    Remember, The main threats to a submarine cable are external impacts due to predominantly anchors and fishing gears. In order to minimize the risk of a cable tear due to a vessels’ anchoring, a
    “Cable protection zone” or CPZ is established along the cable’s path.
    These zones are legally defined and marked on nautical charts. In these areas activities that might damage or harm the cables are strictly regulated and controlled.

    Time we were told what caused the fault.

  16. Clive Stott

    October 17, 2016 at 8:16 pm

    #13 You ask, “Do I know what I am doing?”
    No sorry you don’t and I have booked you into basic hyperlink school 😉

    Your link was ‘broken’ that is why you couldn’t get it to work. Similar to Basslink!!

    Carefully highlight and copy (Control+’C’)the complete link in #12 and paste (Control+ ‘V’)it into your address bar, then hit enter.
    Wait for the PDF file to download.

  17. Second Opinion

    October 17, 2016 at 12:50 am

    Clive at #12,
    I swapped out the instances of (percent20 ) in the URL, Inserting spaces, then forward slashes, then with “+”.
    I got it back into one piece, but still no joy at the other end.
    Hence the “Basslink Experience” method. One extra click.
    Do I know what I am doing? End of trivia…

  18. Clive Stott

    October 16, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    The link in #8 works if you copy and paste the whole link into your browser.
    For some reason the link has been cut in half; mouse over it and you will see where it is underlined.
    Here it is again…
    https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/Divisions/Newcastle Division/Branches/Electrical Branch/basslink.pdf

  19. Second Opinion

    October 16, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Just came across this Power-Point from Siemens.


    Has some Basslink info.

  20. Second Opinion

    October 16, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Scot C. at#8
    Thank you Scot, The link itself, or TT, has a problem with it though.
    Search for “Basslink Experience” under the auspices of EngineersAustralia.

  21. O'Brien

    October 16, 2016 at 3:18 am

    Investigative journalism is by nature a fairly heavy duty activity. Regardless of the subject/object if the facts are translated into dollar terms…. Fourth estate like any gear/lever in the machine have tolerances and limitations, written and unwritten agendas. If local media were worth the paper/pixels they are written on than article/stories of public interest would make page three byline if not front page headlines. For example this story openly available at the click of a mouse/rat/rodent


    Articles like this should be of passing interest to world class dam builders, if not…. Whoops better keep silent on that one, otherwise….

    Probably the most concerning thing citizens/journalists meddling in such affairs face are the potential for silencing. Some horrible almost unimaginable things happen to people who ask too many questions. Sometimes when these kind of things are reported to the responsible authorities, elected representatives, police etc. Just ask… well, maybe not. No, maybe that wouldn’t be such a good idea going on costly experience.

    There are far worse things than being lectured on the costs of dental work and the difficulties of making a living with two broken femurs, far worse.

  22. Scott C

    October 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    #5 Second Opinion: there is some technical information on the construction of the BassLink cable here:

    https://www.engineersaustralia.org.au/sites/default/files/shado/Divisions/Newcastle Division/Branches/Electrical Branch/basslink.pdf

  23. William Boeder

    October 15, 2016 at 8:33 pm

    Pete Godfrey, were this matter pursued through the Australian law courts, then depending on which court jurisdiction heard this case, there should be a record of the case transcript publically available.
    Let us not overlook that the court transcript may ‘by design’ not be made available for listing, for this will rely upon nil ‘sneaky’ intervention and or a purposed failure to not; ‘lodge this case with the court of law case registry agencies.’
    Thus to ‘prevent’ the usual listing by Tasmania’s anti judicial State Liberal party ministers.

    A certain controversial Supreme Court Hearing back in 2006 was never listed with any law case registry, the reason?
    The conduct of this case was doomed from its very beginning, the entire case being as shonky as a 9 shilling bank note.

  24. john hayward

    October 15, 2016 at 7:19 pm

    One thing that has long been observed about LibLab governments is that they will invariably lie about or conceal a matter if there is any reason to do so.

    John Hayward

  25. Second Opinion

    October 15, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Kelvin, the image/s above, of the cable onboard the Ile de Re, may be frame grabs from the video of the operation; that is available online. The video gives an idea of the sequence of events. An image published previously shows (a) cable after cutting by a ROV under water.
    A video by Pysmian shows the manufacture of the Basslink cable. In it a copper core made up of concentric layers bundled as a circular conductor, is wound with many passes of paper ? Insulation. It then passes through a bath which impregnates? the insulating mass. After a lead sheath is presumably poured around the circumference, a single layer of armour wire is wound in a helical manner. A final layer of poly ethylene roving in contrasting colours finishes the process.
    The close-up image above shows not the armour, but the PE twine which is severed. IMHO
    I came across a website for assodivers:
    It mentions Basslink in 2004, and gives details of the contract.

  26. Russell

    October 15, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Re #2
    I think the Insurance company would be in a position to demand of the Government to know what caused it, or not pay anyway.

    Anyway, wasn’t it still under warranty?

    In the end the cable location and other undersea insfrastructure would be well known and documented and there should be a total ban on any human activity anywhere near it.

  27. mike seabrook

    October 15, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    1. what happened
    2. when will it happen again – probability and timing
    3. as for 2 will there be any advance warning ( and will the public be promptly informed)
    4. who pays – how, when and how much – short term and long term (which cronies will not pay anything)
    5. who collects the cash.
    6. will the tamar valley/launceston become pristine with the polluting industrials being asked to pay a full fair price for their electricity (and also gas) and deciding to piss off.
    7. the hobart zinc works?

  28. Pete Godfrey

    October 15, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Kelvin the only reason for secrecy, (other than that it is normal here) is that they know full well what the fault was caused by.
    If they were to say outright that a ship damaged the cable the insurance company would say Not Paying.
    So they have to maintain secrecy until the payment comes through.
    Or there would be a major fight over who is going to pay. I have read the Basslink web statement that says if a ship damages the cable and contacts them then they are indemnified.
    That is very odd too, why when all ships operating in the area would have the cable marked on their charts, as something to avoid would Basslink indemnify them?
    In the end it will come down to the Insurance company paying and we will hear nothing.
    Or it will go to court and either Basslink or the Tasmanian government will have to pay. In that case we may if we are lucky hear something.
    Although with the usual stealth mode our governments operate under I won’t hold my breath.

  29. Matthew

    October 15, 2016 at 9:45 am

    If I remember rightly wasn’t it the ALP that signed up to this fiasco Re: Bass-Link and CO? The Honourable Member bring David Llewellyn? A well researched time-line needs to be worked out and reported on so we can see exactly who “profited” from all the deals made as it certainly wasn’t the State and or the good People of Tasmania.

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