September 24, 2015
IMO’s SOLAS Weight Verification
Changes to the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention pertaining to the mandatory container weight verification requirement on shippers have been approved. This specifically affects shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators and terminal operators. All will need to create and establish policies and practices to ensure proper implementation of this regulatory change.
Under the new changes, legally effective July 1, 2016, it will be a violation to load a packed container onto a vessel if both the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have verified container weight.
This new regulation is done to prevent mishaps and issues that can be caused by misdeclared container weights. This is also an issue from a customs perspective. There is little concern of these issues in the US where container weighing is widely implemented for anything leaving the country, but US import-export companies working within the EU and Asian Markets may find impediments when trying to move goods.
The New Process
Starting next summer, shippers will have to weigh their containers using one of the two following methods:
- Method 1: Weighing the loaded container; or
- Method 2: Weighing the cargo and adding in the tare weight of the container.
Also, the shipper of the container must ensure that the verified gross mass is declared on the accompanying shipping document. In order for the document to be validated and accepted, it must be:
- signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper; and
- submitted to the master and the terminal representative sufficiently in advance, as required by the master, to be used in the preparation of the stowage plan.
Much of the concern for the implementation of these new regulations is logistics. Weighing containers instead of calculating them requires scales and other technology not all ports have at their disposal and would require a large investment. And the brunt may indeed fall upon the ports because if a container’s weight cannot be verified as the regulations mandate, the container must not board a ship. What will happen to all the unverified containers? Most likely, cargo will sit at the port and subject to higher risks than normal. Under these circumstances, make sure shipments are covered with an “All-Risk” cargo policy.