As the cable was manufactured, each finished length was coiled and stowed in a huge circular tank, in readiness for shipment. Bright and Whitehouse were much harassed by the absurdly short time allowed them, the result of an unlucky arrangement with business interests on the other side of the Atlantic. Within that short while they had also to devise apparatus for paying out the cable, and to choose cable ships. The Admiralty and the United States Government each offered a ship for cable-laying, the British ship being the warship Agamemnon, and the American the steam frigate Niagara.
The existing apparatus had been the same as that used for laying short-distance sections, to which the peculiar difficulties entailed by the vast depths and distances of the Atlantic did not apply. Bright fitted a brake in which a lever exercised a constant holding power that remained in perfect proportion to the weight attached to it. He also rigged a dynamometer which controlled and indicated the strain entailed by paying out. Moreover, experiments were conducted by Professor Thomson to test the conductivity of the copper strands, so that all copper wire below a certain standard of conductivity was rejected. This was the first example of organized conductor testing to be carried out in a cable factory.
On the following morning, the Niagara’s cable was conveyed on board the Aqamemnon and the splice was made. After all the disappointments which had gone before, a gloom seemed to have settled over everyone, and there was no celebration beyond the binding of a lucky sixpence into the cable. The cable broke when the two ships had each paid out three miles of it.
... and just remember all this as you routinely receive almost instant web site information and much else from America - it is still passing through cables to reach you.