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Transoceanic communication systems using coaxial cables with repeaters have been in use since the 1950's and there is now a very extensive international network. All major manufacturers of such systems are now developing optical cables and repeaters which will provide increased capacity at lower cost. This paper describes some of the aspects of the design requirements of cables suitable for submerged optical communication systems in order to achieve the very high degree of reliability that must be demonstrated for a 25-year service life. Cable designs for both deep-water and hazardous shallow-water areas are considered.