Port authorities and regulators are increasingly seeing the safety and environmental advantages of installing a DUKC® system for their waterways. The two case studies below highlight why AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) chose a DUKC® system to enhance safety in the international waters of Torres Strait and also why the Port of Montreal ordered a DUKC® for the St Lawrence River, one of the world’s largest inland waterways.

Having DUKC® systems operating in these major waterways further widens the applications for Under Keel Clearance (UKC) management.

DUKC® is developing a strong global presence in major waterways since a DUKC® system was first installed in the Weser River in Germany in 2009. The Weser is a long river system of more than 100km, with four separate ports along its length, including the major ports of Bremerhaven and Bremen.


Torres Strait

The international waters of Torres Strait is a hazardous and environmentally sensitive maritime route.

  • Torres Strait is an important maritime traffic route between the northern tip of Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG) with a unique environment and sensitive cultural heritage.
  • It is also a complex waterway filled with navigational hazards such as reefs, shoals and islands. The Strait has a complex tidal regime, strong streams (up to 8 knots) and, during summer, the region is subject to cyclonic activity. The Strait is un-navigable except for a narrow corridor that snakes its way around the hazards.
  • About 3000 transits take place each year in the Torres Strait by ships with a length greater than 50m. This translates to about nine transits a day. It is not uncommon for two or three deep draft ships to navigate the same narrow corridor at the same time to make use of the available tide.
  • In 2009, AMSA commissioned OMC to deliver a dynamic under keel clearance system (termed UKCM) as an Aid to Navigation (AtoN), to enhance navigational safety and help manage the risk of major maritime incidents and review existing UKC regulations.  This DUKC® system was declared operational in 2011.
  • The customized DUKC® system provides the Torres Strait coastal pilots, the shipping industry and AMSA with practical tools to manage and monitor safe sailing windows and UKC both before transit and in real-time for ships underway.

This is the first time that a DUKC® system is being used in a complex and remote coastal environment in Australia.

Web link: http://www.amsa.gov.au/


St Lawrence River

St Lawrence River is one of the world’s largest inland waterways

  • OMC has won a major contract for its DUKC® system to operate in the St Lawrence River, for the draft-restricted section from Montreal to Quebec City (announced in June 2013).
  • This 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. Montreal is the world’s largest inland port and Canada’s largest container port.
  • An operational DUKC® system offers the possibility of loading more cargo safely in depth-restricted waterways. About 400 ships a year sail to and from Montreal and by sailing under DUKC® advice they are expected to to achieve maximum drafts.
  • OMC gained valuable experience on the St Lawrence River during a 2011 UKC benefits study conducted for the Sociéte de Développement Économique du Saint Laurent (SODES). This earlier work confirmed there is considerable potential to increase draft and tidal sailing windows safely.

The DUKC®system has already been shown to successfully manage the local complexities, such as the use of local UKC rules and unique environmental and bathymetric conditions on the St Lawrence River.