By Mike Mount and David Ariosto
A train that derailed near Baltimore on Tuesday damaged fiber-optic lines and temporarily disrupted Internet service at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, delaying the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others facing terrorism charges this week, a base spokesman said.
The facility lost about 50% of its connectivity, which is serviced by satellite downlink locations in Maine and Maryland, according to Capt. Robert Durand.
A spokeswoman for Verizon Communications Inc., which maintains and runs the fiber optic line for the military, said service had been restored within 24 hours of the incident.
A military judge is scheduled to hear pretrial arguments Thursday, a day later than originally planned.
Mohammed - who has been held since 2006 - is facing charges related to the September 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, the National Transportation Safety Board said its investigation into what caused the train accident was still in the initial stages. Two teenagers sitting on the bridge where the train derailed were killed by coal that spilled from the cars.
The U.S. naval base, will be getting an estimated $40 million communications upgrade for its limited satellite communications system. The upgrade will change systems to an underwater fiber optic line that will stretch from the base to the coast of Florida, according to Pentagon spokesman Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.
The outdated satellite communications system was overburdened with the military court hearing the cases of the top 9/11 plotters and other war-on-terrorism suspects, as well as the ongoing detention operations.
Upgrading to a fiber optic line allows much more bandwidth and a more secure line during bad weather that can hamper satellite communications, according to Breasseale.
While close to the United States, the base is still remote in southeastern Cuba, and is often in the path of severe weather. It generally houses about 6,000 troops and civilians.
The United States has alerted the Cuban government that it intends on starting the project this summer with a survey ship operating off the eastern coast of the country evaluating the expected route, but actual work of installing the cable will being within a couple of years.