Under keel clearance management (UKCM)
Under keel clearance
Maintaining the vertical distance between the ship’s hull and the ocean floor keeps a ship’s keel free of the seabed and reduces the chances of running aground.
What is UKCM?
The Under Keel Clearance Management (UKCM) system helps large ships to navigate through the Torres Strait in Australia's north.
Management of under keel clearance for ships transiting Torres Strait
The current maximum draught and under keel clearance (UKC) limitations in Torres Strait are based on the experience of safe transits.
The draught limitation of 12.2 metres reflects the previous imperial measure of 40 feet, which was based on a study in the 1970s by the then Federal Department for Transport.
Vessels with a draught of 12.2 metres are able to pass through Torres Strait on any day of the year while maintaining the required UKC, but restricted to high water.
Following the introduction of compulsory pilotage in Torres Strait in 2006, a study investigated whether a new method could provide better safety margins and economic benefits.
The 2007 study recommended a UKCM system for vessels with draughts between 8 m and 12.2 m.
AMSA declared the UKCM system ‘operational’ in December 2011.
Use of the UKCM system (by AMSA-licensed coastal pilots assigned to the transit of vessels through Varzin Passage, Gannet Passage and the Prince of Wales Channel) became a condition of pilotage providers’ licences in January 2014.
The requirement to use the system was included in Marine Order 54 (Coastal Pilotage), which came into effect on 1 July 2014.
For more information, please see the under keel clearance management [ PDF: 366Kb] fact sheet.
For specific coastal pilotage information about UKCM, please see the Coastal pilotage UKCM page.