In response to the perceived need to provide a less conservative approach to under keel clearance (UKC) management Dr Terry O’Brien established OMC, creating the first workable DUKC® and beginning the challenging task of convincing regulators it would deliver safer ports and smarter shipping.


For more than 21 years, OMC has been delivering innovative workable solutions to improve safety and efficiency in the shipping industry make the shipping industry safer and more efficient. Its technology maximises port capacity, ensures pilot safety, equips port authorities with essential risk mitigation tools, and saves billions of dollars in shipping costs of transporting bulk cargo and container goods around the world.

Innovative products deliver safer and smarter ports.

OMC’s DUKC® technology has proven itself with some of the largest and most challenging ports in the world, delivering significant cost savings and risk management and environmental benefits.

The Port of Melbourne, Australasia’s largest container port, chose to install a DUKC® system for risk mitigation to help ensure the safety of large ships entering Port Phillip Heads. The combination of heavy swells, strong currents, complicated bathymetry and hard rock bottom makes the restricted entrance into Port Phillip Bay one of the most difficult pilotage challenges for under keel clearance (UKC) prediction worldwide and DUKC provides the certainty the regulators require.

Similarly, OMC provided the solution for AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) to ensure safety in the international waters of Torres Strait. After a lengthy tender process they chose DUKC® Series 5 as its UKC management system.

In North America, DUKC® is part of Montreal Port Authority’s (MPA) and the Canadian Coast Guard’s (CCG) integrated e-Navigation solution for the St Lawrence River, which is one of the world’s largest inland waterways. A DUKC® system is operating in the draft-restricted section from Montreal to Quebec City, further cementing OMC’s reputation as the leading expert in UKC management for waterways.

A DUKC® management system is also the solution for shippers and owners wanting to maximise cargo tonnage because it generally delivers significant draft increases at ports where it is installed.

Under very favourable conditions, DUKC® can allow large ships to safely sail up to 1m deeper – allowing them to carry more than 15,000 extra tonnes of iron ore or coal. Every centimetre of draft (the depth below the waterline) that a large ship can be loaded to means around an extra 150 tonnes of cargo which, at $110 per tonne, would amount to nearly an extra $1.7 million for that ship.

In WA, at Rio Tinto’s Dampier Port, DUKC® has allowed an average draft increase of 60cm which means about an extra $780,000 of ore carried per ship. And at Port Hedland, the world’s largest bulk export port, DUKC® has allowed BHP Billiton to potentially ship out $1.1 billion of extra iron ore revenue per year.

DUKC® Optimiser

OMC continues to develop new products to help solve safety and port capacity problems in the global shipping industry. DUKC® Optimiser, for example, which is an optional Series 5 product, automates an otherwise manual scheduling process. It sails multiple ships on one tide subject to constraints such as booking priorities, adequate UKC, tug and pilot availability, to safely maximise tide tonnage achieved on each high water. ‘It significantly reduces the work load of the schedulers and gives greater flexibility in the timing of port visits.

In April 2014 at Port Hedland, under DUKC® advice, five ships sailed on the morning tide with a total 1,025,962 tonnes and six ships sailed on the evening tide with a total 1,002,143 tonnes – a record more than 2 million tonnes of iron ore exported in 24 hours.

OMC iHeave®

The development of another new product OMC iHeave®, a lightweight ship motion measurement instrument, was prompted by a research project for North America’s Columbia River Bar. As part of this project, commissioned by the Columbia River Bar Pilots (CRBP) with funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation, OMC engineers needed to gather vital ship motion data for a wide array of ships in the very challenging and treacherous entrance to the Columbia River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean. Accessing the bow and transferring DGPS equipment by helicopter during winter at the Columbia River Bar was regarded as too dangerous and would have prevented OMC engineers from measuring the very ship motions the pilots were most concerned about.

So in response OMC developed OMC iHeave®, which gives results of similar accuracy to a full DGPS set-up. Pilots can now quickly and safely mount this instrument and it can continuously monitor ship movements during the entire transit, directly measuring all six degrees of ship motions in waves – in all weather conditions – from just inside one location on board ship.

This simple but revolutionary OMC iHeave® innovation has very important implications for improving safety at sea under such severe weather conditions, not only for crews but also for cargoes and ships. For example, it has the potential to contribute to the understanding of how heavy seas affect the problem of liquefication of cargoes of fine metals and its effect on ship stability.