THE Australian Maritime Safety Authority is to increase the maximum draught for container vessels transiting the Torres Strait to 12.5 metres, limited to certain tidal windows.

The increase, due to come into effect on 1 November, follows trials conducted since 2019.

An AMSA spokesperson said the current maximum draught for containerships in the Torres Strait is 12.2 metres.

“The current maximum draught for tankers and bulk carriers is up to 12.5 metres but is limited by the tidal window to ensure the minimum under keel clearance of 1 metre between the bottom of the keel and the seabed is maintained,” the spokesperson said.

“From 1 November 2021, the draught for container vessels will increase from 12.2 metres up to 12.5 metres which will also be limited by the tidal window and the same minimum under-keel clearance.”

The spokesperson pointed out that all vessels with a draught of over nine metres must be piloted by an AMSA-licenced coastal pilot, and all pilots must use the AMSA-approved under-keel clearance management system to ensure they maintain the minimum clearance.

AMSA increased the maximum draught for bulk carriers and tankers in the Torres Strait to 12.5 metres in 2019.