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THE AUSTRALIAN Maritime Safety Authority has issued a notice reminding mariners of the coastal pilotage requirements that apply within Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait waters.

Under Marine Order 54 (Coastal Pilotage) 2014, Hydrographers Passage, Inner Route, Torres Strait, Great North East Channel and the Whitsundays are prescribed compulsory pilotage areas.

Vessel masters, owners and operators who navigate the prescribed coastal pilotage areas without an AMSA licensed coastal pilot on board may face significant penalties.

“In accordance with the Navigation Act 2012, vessels over 70 metres in length, loaded oil tankers, loaded chemical carriers, and loaded liquefied gas carriers (irrespective of length) are required to embark a licensed coastal pilot when transiting any of the prescribed compulsory coastal pilotage areas,” AMSA said in its notice.

“It is important to note that the master of a vessel is not relieved of responsibility for the conduct and safe navigation of the vessel whilst the vessel is under pilotage.”

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A bulk carrier transiting the Hydrographers Passage recently experienced a near-miss grounding when it came within 200 metres of Bond Reef.

It is understood the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is still investigating the near-miss grounding.

Rosco Poplar was transiting Hydrographers Passage inbound under the conduct of a coastal pilot when it was reported that an alert from a ship’s electronic navigational aid indicated that the ship was passing less than 200 metres from Bond Reef,” ATSB said at the start of its investigation this month.

“The vessel traffic service monitoring shipping in the area had also received a potential grounding alert from its electronic systems and communicated with the ship’s pilot,” it said.

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