France Telecom lost one of its cable ships, the Chamarel, after a fire engulfed the vessel on August 8.
The ship was returning from a repair operation on the Sat3-Safe cable off the coast of Namibia when the fire started.
“Despite the crew's efforts to control the fire, the decision was made to abandon the ship at around 8pm local time. All 56 crew members were safely recovered by a Namibian fishing vessel without injury or incident,” the telecom operator said in a statement.
The cause of the fire has not yet been established and a full investigation will be launched as soon as the vessel has been recovered, according to France Telecom. The telco will also work with the Namibian authorities to ensure minimum environmental impact during the recovery operation.
Thierry Bonhomme, senior executive vice president in charge of networks and carriers, and R&D, said: "This is a very serious incident, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the crew members for their courage in managing the situation. The safety of our crew is our primary concern and we will look closely at the results of the investigation. I am also grateful for the support provided by the Namibian authorities."
France Telecom said that submarine cables in the area would continue to function normally.