Train Wreck Raises Questions About DISA Back-Up

Cut cable has far-reaching impact.

A train wreck in Ellicott City, Md., Tuesday cut a fiber optic cable used to provide Internet service to Guantanamo Navy base, Cuba, Steven Doub, a spokesman for the Defense Information Systems Agency confirmed.

That in turn led to a delay in the start of hearings by a military tribunal in the case of 9/11 attack mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, with the hearing delayed even more by the approach of Tropical Storm Isaac.

Doub said that the train wreck “severed one of the fiber segments that provides internet service in support of GITMO. The fiber was cut very late on the night of [Aug.] 20. Traffic was moved to alternate circuits after the fiber was cut but at reduced capacity. A fiber splice to repair the cable was completed the afternoon of the 21st. The fiber splice restored connectivity although one circuit remains at reduced capacity until the fiber is fully repaired."

That fiber circuit was connected to satellite earth stations in Maine and Maryland, which provided connections to Guantanamo, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a base spokesman, told the Miami Herald.

Ellicott City is about 10 miles from DISA HQ at Ft. Meade, Md., in what is a fiber-rich corridor connecting the major cities of the Northeast, and I’m more than a bit bemused by the fact that the cut of one cable could have such an impact.

What’s the backup?