The undersea cable company that’s helping the US take on China

SubCom, a New Jersey company born out of a Cold War spy project, has become a key player in the U.S.-China tech war. It’s laying internet cables on the ocean floor to boost Washington’s economic and military might, including a clandestine mission to a remote island naval base, Reuters can reveal.

Its website says: From the very beginning, SubCom has been a leader in defining the subsea cable industry. We continue that proud tradition today as we drive ever-improving quality and efficiency of undersea data transmission. SubCom designs, manufactures, deploys, maintains, and operates modern networks with an industry-leading track record for delivery and performance, providing the most comprehensive technical and marine expertise, with the highest quality, and most reliable solutions.

From Reuters (whole story here)

On Feb. 10 last year, the cable ship CS Dependable appeared off the coast of the island of Diego Garcia, an Indian Ocean atoll that’s home to a discreet U.S. naval base.

Over the next month, the ship’s crew covertly laid an underwater fiber-optic cable to the military base, an operation code-named “Big Wave,” according to four people with direct knowledge of the mission, as well as a Reuters analysis of satellite imagery and ship tracking data.

The new super-fast internet link to Diego Garcia, which has not previously been reported, will boost U.S. military readiness in the Indian Ocean, a region where China has expanded its naval influence over the last decade.

Publicly, it is one of the world’s biggest developers of undersea fiber-optic cables for telecom firms and tech giants like Alphabet’s Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Meta Platforms.

Behind the scenes, SubCom is the exclusive undersea cable contractor to the U.S. military, laying a web of internet and surveillance cables across the ocean floor, according to the four people with knowledge of the matter: two SubCom employees and two U.S. Navy staffers. The individuals asked not to be named because they were not authorized to discuss the operations.

This dual role has made SubCom increasingly valuable to Washington as global internet infrastructure – from undersea cables to data centers and 5G mobile networks – risks fracturing into two systems, one backed by the United States, the other controlled by China.