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CABLE, a large rope or chain, used generally with ships, but often employed for other purposes ; the term "cable" is also used for minor varieties of similar engineering or other attachments, and in the case of "electric cables" for the grouped and sheathed wires by which telegraphic and telephonic messages are trans mitted. See TELEGRAPH and TELEPHONE.


The cables by which ships ride at anchor are made of chain. Prior to 181I only hempen cables were supplied to ships of the British navy; but in that year chain cables were supplied, as less liable to foul or be cut by rocks, or to be injured by enemy's shot. They are also handier and cleaner. The first patent for chain cables was by Philip White in ; twisted links were sug gested in by Captain Brown; studs were introduced in In manufacturing chain cables, the bars are cut to the required length of link, at an angle for forming the welds and, after heating, are bent by machinery and welded by smiths, each link being inserted in the previous one before welding.

Cables for the British navy and mercantile marine are sup plied in I21-fathom and I 5-fath om lengths respectively, con nected together by "joining shackles," D (fig. I). Each length is "marked" by pieces of iron wire being twisted round the studs of the links ; the wire is placed on the first studs on each side of the first shackle, on the second studs on each side of the second shackle, and so on; thus indicating the number of lengths of cable that is out. In joining the lengths together, the round end of the shackle is placed towards the anchor. The end links of each length (C.C.) are made without studs in order to take the shackle; but as studs increase the strength of a link, in a stud less or open link the iron is of greater diameter. The next links (B.B.) have to be enlarged, in order to take the increased size of the links C.C. In the joining shackle (D), the bolt is oval, its greater diameter being in the direction of the strain. The bolt of a shackle, which attaches the cable to the anchor (called an "anchor shackle" to distinguish it from a joining shackle) pro jects and is secured by a forelock; but since any projection in a joining shackle would be liable to be injured when the cable is running out or when passing round a capstan, the bolts are made as shown (in D), and are secured by a smaller pin.

The inboard ends of cables are secured by a "slip" which prevents the cable's inner end from running overboard, and also enables the cable to be "slipped," or let go, in case of emergency. In the British navy, swivel pieces are fitted in the first and last lengths of cable, to prevent turns getting into the cable, caused by the ship swinging round her anchor. If a ship is moored with two anchors, the cables are secured to a mooring swivel (fig. 2), which prevents a "foul hawse," i.e., the cables being entwined round each other. The cable is generally hove in by either a power-driven capstan or windlass (see CAPSTAN) . Ships in the British navy used to ride by a compressor, a long steel arm, pivoted under the forecastle so that it can be swung across the deck pipe and jam the cable (fig. 3), but modern warships are fitted with slips just below the cable holder for this purpose. The cable-holder is used for checking cable running out. When a ship has been given the necessary cable, the compressor is "bowsed to" or the slip put on, and the brake of the cable-holder is eased up. Small vessels of the mercantile marine ride by turns round the windlass; in larger or more modern vessels fitted with a steam windlass, the friction brakes take the strain, aided, when required in bad weather, by the bitts, compressor or controller.

See the Admiralty Manual of Seamanship, vol. i. (H.M. Stationery Office, London) .

cables, shackle, studs, joining, links and chain