3/2016—Under keel clearance management in Torres Strait

Outlines AMSA’s management framework for under keel clearance management (UKCM) in Torres Strait.

Supersedes 20/2013

The purpose of this marine notice is to:

  • outline AMSA’s management framework for UKCM in Torres Strait;
  • summarise the various responsibilities for UKCM; and
  • remind masters that all coastal pilots transiting ships with draughts of at least 8m through the Prince of Wales Channel, the Gannet Passage or the Varzin Passage are required to use the Under Keel Clearance Management (UKCM) system, implemented by AMSA, when complying with Marine Order 54 (Coastal pilotage) 2014 (MO54).


The UKCM system became operational in 2011 for use in the Prince of Wales Channel and both Gannet and Varzin Passages. The UKCM system contributes to safe marine navigation which facilitates the protection of the marine environment and enhances the safety and efficiency of transiting vessels.

The purpose of the UKCM system is to ensure that the best possible under keel clearance information, updated in real time, is available to assist in the planning and safe conduct of vessel transits.

The UKCM system is a web-based aid to navigation (AtoN) for use by ships’ masters, pilotage providers and licensed coastal pilots. When a successful UKCM transit plan has been calculated, coastal pilots can also save and print the plan for use and wider promulgation. This hardcopy printed plan is to be used in the event of any potential loss of connectivity to the web-based system during any UKCM transit.

Find further technical and explanatory information about under keel clearance management.

Area of operation

The UKCM system is designed to cover navigable ship routes between the longitudes of 141 degrees and 50 minutes east and 142 degrees and 27 minutes east. These routes are defined in MO54. Routes are limited to those areas designated by the Australian Hydrographic Service as having a data quality indicator of Category A Zone of Confidence (ZOC).

UKCM training

AMSA has introduced a UKCM system Competency Based Training and assessment process. There are two on-line training programs available; one specifically designed for pilots, pilot providers and REEFVTS Operators; and one designed for use by planners, masters, pilot launch operators and other approved users. The training for pilots includes a one-on-one competency assessment with an AMSA assessor.

The on-line training programs can be accessed through the AMSA Coastal Pilotage e-learning portal

UKCM system access

Access to the UKCM system is available for approved users through a vetted registration process. To request registration, please follow the registration application process

Masters’ role in the UKCM system

Masters are strongly advised to provide accurate stability and draught data to coastal pilots in a timely manner. The supply of accurate data by masters will enable appropriate UKCM transit and associated route planning to be conducted by coastal pilots when complying with MO54.

Summary of roles

Entity Role
Shipping Company / Ships Agent Provide to the pilotage provider the required vessel particulars including ships stability details and ETA at the UKCM area.
Ships’ Master Provide the required final stability particulars well in advance to embarking a coastal pilot to ensure appropriate UKCM transit planning.
Coastal Pilots & Pilotage Providers Use the UKCM system to generate transit plans, manage tidal windows and monitor active vessel transits.

Oversee and regulate the use of the UKCM system by coastal pilots and pilot providers in accordance with MO54.

Provide training, support and assessment of pilots in the use of the UKCM system.

Provide validated metrological, oceanographic and tidal sensor data for use by the UKCM system.

Provide pilotage provider/pilot access to the UKCM system.
REEFVTS Receive reports from pilots in accordance with MO54, Schedule 3, Section 6. Provide UKCM-related information, as part of the on-going delivery of an Information Service.

Download Under keel clearance management in Torres Strait—marine notice 3/2016 (PDF 60 KB) (PDF 59.27 KB)

Contact us

Further information can be sought from
or for technical information

Gary Prosser
Deputy Chief Executive Officer
January 2016

Australian Maritime Safety Authority
GPO Box 2181

Last updated: 

Wednesday 1 February 2023