The Australia Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) issued a Marine Notice 16/2015 to advise mariners, shipowners, ship operators and agents that the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has adopted two new two-way routes and an associated area to be avoided (ATBA) in the Coral Sea (Figure 1). These measures come into effect at 0000 hours UTC on 1 January 2016.
The routeing systems will serve as associated protective measures for the recently-extended Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Particularly Sensitive Sea Area in the Coral Sea. Regulation V/10 of SOLAS (Ships’ routeing) provides for IMO-adopted ships’ routeing systems that may be recommended for use by some or all ships.
The five mile wide, two-way routes aim to separate opposing streams of traffic and keep ships clear of the shoals, reefs and islands that lie in close proximity. The 60 nautical mile (nm) route in Diamond Passage aligns with the existing traffic pattern (Figure 2). The 53 nm route west of Holmes Reefs provides a routeing measure for ships navigating west of the ATBA (Figure 3).
Area to be avoided
The ATBA aims to enhance safety by keeping ships away from the charted reefs, islets and cays, which lie between the two-way routes (Figure 4).
In order to reduce the risk of a maritime casualty and potential harm to the sensitive marine environment, transiting ships that are required to conform to SOLAS requirements, should not enter the ATBA. However, ships that demonstrate an operational need to visit a location within the ATBA (e.g. cruise ships) and which have adequate risk mitigation measures in place, may enter the ATBA.
Use of the two-way routes and avoidance of the ATBA is recommended – but not mandatory. The two-way routes do not give vessels any special right of way. They do not affect other obligations (for instance those associated with the prevention of collisions at sea), as applicable.
The Australian Hydrographic Service (AHS) will incorporate the new routeing measures in relevant paper and electronic charts. AHS will advise by Notices to Mariners when these updates are available.
Shipowners, ship operators and agents are urged to ensure information on the new routeing measures is provided to their ships operating in the region.
Marine notice view- AMSA Marine notice 16-2015
Source – Australia Maritime Safety Authority