cable unit of distance

Cable length
Cable length
Nautical unit of measure
A cable length is equal to one tenth of a nautical mile or approximately 100 fathoms.
Measurement Variability
Varies from 169 to 220 metres (185 to 241 yards), depending on the standard used.
The modern word 'cable' is descended from Middle English and ultimately from Romanic, likely related to a cattle halter.
A cable is a nautical unit of distance equal to one-tenth of a nautical mile or approximately 185 meters (608 feet). The definition varies slightly between different standards:
  • International standard: 185.2 meters, exactly one-tenth of a nautical mile
  • UK traditional: 608 feet or about 185 meters (100 fathoms)
  • US Navy: 720 feet or about 220 meters (120 fathoms)

Origins and Etymology

The term "cable" originated from the standard length of anchor cables or ropes carried on ships, which settled around 100 fathoms (600 feet or 185 meters) by the 16th century. This length became defined as one cable length or simply one cable, equal to one-tenth of a nautical mile used for measuring distances at sea. The word "cable" itself derives from the Middle English and Middle Dutch words for a rope or chain, ultimately tracing back to a Romanic word for a cattle halter or tether. So in summary, one cable is an internationally recognized nautical unit representing one-tenth of a nautical mile, with its exact length varying slightly between 185-220 meters depending on the specific standard used.
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