Automatic shallow water alerts—advisory note

This Pilot Advisory Note (PAN) reminds AMSA-licensed coastal pilots to contact REEFVTS if a planned manoeuvre may take a piloted vessel outside a REEFVTS ‘electronic corridor’.


‘Electronic corridors’ are safe navigation areas bounded by electronic limits within the REEFVTS vessel monitoring system. These boundaries align with established routes such as the two-way route / recommended route within the coastal pilotage areas.

Previously, a safe overtaking manoeuvre planned by two coastal pilots in the Great North East Channel pilotage area, generated an automatic Shallow Water Alert at REEFVTS. The manoeuvre was discussed and agreed between the two pilots and the bridge crews of both vessels were advised in advance of the intended deviations from the planned track. 

Both vessels were fully under control throughout the manoeuvre, however, as a result of ensuring sufficient sea room prevailed, one of the vessels navigated outside the electronic corridor and entered the Shallow Water Alert area around a nearby reef. 


When a vessel (piloted by an AMSA-licensed coastal pilot) navigates directly towards, or enters a Shallow Water Alert area, an automatic alert is generated at REEFVTS. Depending on the nature of the alert, REEFVTS may interact with the vessel and may be required to submit a formal report to AMSA (as coastal pilotage regulator) and to senior management at Maritime Safety Queensland.

On receipt of such a report (associated with the conduct of coastal pilotage), AMSA is obliged to conduct an investigation regarding the circumstances of the case.

Coastal pilots are requested to ensure that if a manoeuvre is planned which may take a vessel outside the two-way or recommended route, that they contact REEFVTS prior to the planned manoeuvre, to advise their intentions. 

Such communication will: 

  • Ensure REEFVTS is aware that each vessel will remain under full control and that each ship’s position is being monitored throughout the planned manoeuvre.
  • Absolve AMSA of the requirement to conduct an investigation due to any Shallow Water Alert which might be triggered.

Coastal pilots are also kindly reminded of the contents of PAN 04/2017 regarding ‘Close proximity manoeuvres and overtaking situations in coastal pilotage areas’.

Please forward any queries about this PAN to

Last updated: 21 September 2020