THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has renewed its contract with OMC International to deliver an under-keel clearance management system for the Torres Strait.

AMSA said the Torres Strait under-keel clearance management system allows pilots and vessel operators to plan and monitor the safe and efficient passage of vessels that are navigating through the strait.

The system has been in place since 2011 and is primarily used by AMSA-licenced coastal pilots when transiting vessels through a defined monitoring area within Torres Strait.

The system calculates, in near-real time, the distance between the keel and the seabed before and during the transit.

The system takes into account of the height of tide, tidal streams, vessel speed and the motions of the ship.

AMSA manager of seafarer certification and pilotage Grant Judson said the UKCM system was critical to the ongoing safe navigation of vessels throughout the Torres Strait.

“The Torres Strait is an environmentally sensitive area as well as a vital corridor for global shipping and it’s imperative that we ensure that ships can pass through the region safely,” he said.

“The UKCM system plays an important role in providing pilots and masters with highly accurate information about how close a vessel’s hull is to the seafloor.

Mr Judson said the UKCM system is designed to support seafarers in keeping ships safe, and significantly reduces the risk of grounding.

The existing contract for this service with OMC International expires in June 2024, and the new contract will be in effect for eight years.