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Under keel clearance management

Keeping your ship's keel free of the seabed will reduce your chances of running aground.

Maintaining the vertical distance between your ships hull and the ocean floor keeps the keel free of the seabed and reduces the chances of running aground.

What is under keel clearance management?

The under keel clearance management (UKCM) system helps large ships to navigate through the Torres Strait in Australia's north.

UKCM for ships transiting Torres Strait

The current maximum draught and under keel clearance 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 under keep clearance, 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 metres and 12.2 metres.

We 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.

Last updated: 

Friday 7 December 2018