Increased maximum draught for bulk carriers and tankers transiting Torres Strait
The change to maximum draught, which is contained in Marine Order 54 (Torres Strait draught variation) – Exemption 2019 (No.3), has come about following detailed trials carried out at sea in collaboration with the UKCM system vendor, OMC International, and Rio Tinto.
The trials showed that at certain times of the year, tidal conditions allow for some deeper-draught vessels with a full-form hull, to safely transit through Torres Strait, in full compliance with the requirements specified in Marine order 54 (Coastal pilotage) 2014 (MO54).
Bulk carriers and tankers with draughts greater than 12.2 metres will need to plan the timing of their transits in a more considered manner, in close collaboration with coastal pilotage providers. Vessel operators must also be prepared to alter transit schedules according to the prevailing conditions, to ensure that the nett clearance between the bottom of the ship and the sea floor is maintained in accordance with Marine order 54, when transiting through Torres Strait.
Although these changes will facilitate the transit of deeper-draught bulk carriers and tankers through Torres Strait, no changes have been made to the minimum depth (clearance) required under the keel, ensuring the same safety margin for transiting vessels remains in place.
Over time, this has the potential to reduce the number of vessels transiting Torres Strait and the Great Barrier Reef as the change allows these ships to carry greater quantities of product with each voyage.