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ship board cable

What is Shipboard Cable?

The term “shipboard cable” covers a wide range of wire options. Different shipboard cables can be used for power, communication, control, lighting, electronics, instrumentation, and even other specialized applications. They are also diverse in terms of the people who use them: everyone from the U.S. Navy to recreational boaters.

No matter what the application or who the user is, the shipboard cable must be proved to be safe, effective, and reliable in any situation. Standards help manufacturers and end-users ensure that shipboard cable is designed to meet all product quality and safety requirements necessary for successful application on the seas.


If you take a closer look at any of our shipboard cable specifications, you will see that the mil-spec numbers are followed by a series of letters. Each series represents a different version of that particular mil-spec cable. The letters let us know more about each one, including whether the cable is armored or unarmored, and whether or not the cable is watertight.

The following letters are associated with cable characteristics:

  • O = Unarmored
  • A = Armored
  • S = Shielded
  • W = Watertight

Looking for these letters can help you decide which version of a certain mil-spec cable is right for your application.

Types of Shipboard Cable

Now that you know about the details of these parts, let’s take a broader perspective of some of the most popular types of shipboard cable. Five of the major standards for shipboard cable are the Mil-C-24640, Mil-C-24643, Mil-C-17, NAVSEA coax, and Mil-C-915E specifications:

  • M24640 focuses on lightweight low-smoke shipboard cables. These cables are considered safer than standard cables because they produce minimal smoke should a fire occur on-board. M24640 cables also reduce the overall weight of the ship, cutting down on unnecessary drag.
  • M24643 describes low smoke zero halogen shipboard cables. These produce little smoke and no toxic byproducts if in contact with flame. As a result, these cables are recommended for heavily-manned ships. Unlike M24640, this is not a lightweight cable.
  • M17 coax cables are coaxial cables that emit high radio frequencies and may be used in shipboard applications. They are available in low smoke, low toxicity constructions that share similar fire safety characteristics with the M24643. M17 coax cables are also known for their flexibility and abrasion resistance.
  • Mil-C-915E cables are for general shipboard use and may be applied where low smoke characteristics are not required. It is less expensive than low smoke cable alternatives, but it also does not provide the fire safety features present in the other cables.

All of these specifications have been designed to identify cables fit for use on naval ships. This means that they should hold up in even the most challenging shipboard applications. For Shipboard items, please also visit Seacoast.