Ship from Norway laying electricity cable connecting Newfoundland, Nova Scotia

Work has begun on a remarkable engineering feat beneath the Cabot Strait, the body of water that separates Cape Breton from southwestern Newfoundland.

Halifax-based Emera Inc. announced on Thursday that a cable-laying ship, the Nexans Skagerrak, has started rolling out North America's longest submarine electricity cables between the two provinces, a 170-kilometre span.

The two cables, each the width of a two-litre pop bottle, will be part of Emera's $1.6-billion Maritime Link project, which will enable Newfoundland and Labrador to provide Nova Scotia with electricity from the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador.

Emera says deployment of the first cable started off Cape Ray, N.L., late Wednesday, and the Norwegian ship is expected to arrive off Point Aconi, N.S., by May 8, if the weather holds.

The second cable is expected to be placed on the ocean floor by mid June.

Together, the two cables weigh about 11,000 tonnes, which is more than the Eiffel Tower.