VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — For the past three weeks we’ve been looking at Hampton Roads’ struggle to rebound after the long recession.

One development brought up during our special report Wednesday, a cable stretching nearly 4,000 miles from Virginia Beach to Spain. Could it be the underwater lifeline to prosperity for our region?

“The future of network infrastructure,” the announcer states in the Microsoft video on the highest-capacity subsea cable that now is in Virginia Beach. 

The Microsoft video tells the story of Marea (Spanish for tide), which is the highest capacity subsea cable to cross the Atlantic.

“We are now seeing ourselves as a digital port,” says Virginia Beach’s Economic Development Director Warren Harris, who told 10 On Your Side what it means for Hampton Roads.

“It’s bringing new data, or the need for new data, and using Virginia Beach as the gateway for that data to go into the stream of commerce here in the United States.

Marea’s journey began in Bilboa, Spain.

A cable ship crosses the Atlantic, dropping 4,000 miles of cable.  It is mostly left on the ocean floor with an average depth of 11,000 feet. 

The cable is a little larger than a garden hose and contains eight pairs of fiber optic cables with protective layers.  The cable is also buried closer to shore. 

 Harris adds, “it lays the framework, the groundwork if you will, for us to create an ecosystem around technology.”  

In November there was a shallow water vessel off the Camp Pendleton Coast and if you were looking you would see men pulling the cable to shore.  There was also a fiber cable manhole that was lowered below the Croatan parking lot.

Once the cable came to shore, it was moved underground, and then the cable was bored under lakes before reaching General Booth Boulevard.  Once they got to General Booth they started moving south towards the Cable Landing Station which was about four and half miles down General Booth. 

They then hooked up the cable into the Cable Landing Station at 1900 Corporate Landing Parkway.

Due to that event, and that investment now across the street, ACA International is moving in.

“What you see is a site where ACA is going to develop their brand new 130,000 square foot facility.

That is going to locate right here on this site,” Harris says with pride, purpose, and with hands showing the direction the building will be built.

Down the road Globalinx Data Centers is retrofitting a building, and at the old Owl’s Creek Golf Course you can see the new home for Global Technical Systems that is investing $54 million in energy storage systems (batteries), creating 1,100 new jobs.

The important part of this is that Hampton Roads is the only region between New York and Florida that has the subsea cables. 

More are expected to come from South America, South Africa and possibly other countries, too.

By the way, when a cable needs repair, a ship goes out, lifts the cable off the ocean floor, brings it up to the ship, then they fix what’s wrong and then drop it back down. 

If the cable is severed, they bring up one side, fix it, bring up the other side, fix that, then connect the two before lowering it back down to the ocean floor.