Under Keel Clearance Management System Required for Torres Strait
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) requires the use of an under keel clearance management (UKCM) system for vessels transiting through the Torres Strait from 1 January 2014.
The Torres Strait is a vital shipping route for the Asia-Pacific region and is traversed by a number of large vessels each week. The UKCM system allows vessel operators and coastal pilots to plan the safe and efficient passage of deep draught vessels through the Torres Strait with accurate vessel information and environmental data from tide, stream, wind and wave sensors.
The web based system is designed to monitor the depth of water under a ship’s keel as it traverses the Torres Strait.
AMSA Chief Executive Officer Graham Peachey said the aim of the system is to enhance shipping safety in the Torres Strait by ensuring the minimum under keel clearance requirements are met.
“The UKCM system is a standardized system that provides an enhanced level of safety for vessels transiting this unique area,” Mr Peachey said.
“The Under Keel Clearance Management (UKCM) system first become operational in Australian waters in December 2011 and since then, AMSA has been monitoring its use and operation.
“The system has been used successfully by a number of coastal pilots over the past two years and has been determined to meet all the required specifications.
“The implementation of the UKCM system means all coastal pilots in the Torres Strait will be using the same system,” he said.
Over the past few months, AMSA has been running training programs on the UKCM system for coastal pilots operating in the Torres Strait.
UKCM systems are often used in ports; however this is the first time a UKCM system has been implemented in a coastal environment in Australia. The UKCM system complements the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service as one of a number of protective measures implemented by AMSA to enhance the safety of shipping in environmentally sensitive marine areas.