Built in 1951-52, the 65-foot CS Cable Queen was a small-scale underwater telephone cable-laying vessel used by the Bell System for decades. It replaced the CS Lidiv, which was decommissioned in 1955.
Early submarine telephone cables usually followed submarine telegraph cables in terms of placement and cable-laying techniques. By the 1970s, the New York City harbor had already been spanned by multiple cables for decades. The first submarine telephone cable between New Jersey and Staten Island was laid in 1897; the first spanning the East River followed in 1902.
Cable Queen’s region of maintenance and installation stretched from Rhode Island to the Chesapeake Bay and included all of New York City. During the 1966 New York City transit strike, which shut down buses and subways, the ship was put to novel use transporting telephone workers across the Hudson and East Rivers.
By 1989, the CS Cable Queen had laid more than 100,000 miles of cable underwater. Later decommissioned, it is now owned by the NY Submarine Contracting Company, and sits in dry dock near the Kill Van Kull off Staten Island.
Footage Courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ