Alert of shipping weight regulations effective July 1, 2016
Harborside will keep you well informed and updated regarding this forthcoming new regulation.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) will start enforcing the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention requirements regarding the verification of the gross mass of packed containers to ensure the safety of the ship, the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo, and overall safety at sea.
This SOLAS requirement, to take effect from July 1, 2016, will mean that the loading of packed containers will be denied onto a ship unless the verified gross mass of the container has been communicated sufficiently in advance to the ship’s master or his representative and the terminal representative in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. The shipper will be responsible for the verification of the gross mass of a packed container and stating the verified gross mass in the shipping document
The SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirement
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require, as a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship for export, that the container has a verified weight. The shipper is responsible for the verification of the packed container’s weight. This requirement will become legally effective on July 1, 2016. After that date, it would be a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container onto a vessel if the vessel operator and marine terminal operator do not have a verified container weight.
The SOLAS amendments provide that there are two methods shippers may use to determine the container weight once the container packing process has taken place. This requirement will apply globally. Shippers, freight forwarders, vessel operators, and terminal operators will all need to establish policies and procedures to ensure the implementation of this regulatory change.
Because there have been questions about what the specific nature of the SOLAS changes are, the World Shipping Council provides the following basic synopsis of the SOLAS requirement.
Basic Principles Under the SOLAS Requirement
1. Before a packed container can be loaded onto a ship, its weight must be determined through weighing. It is a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container aboard a vessel
2. Under the SOLAS amendments, there are two permissible methods for weighing: Method 1, which requires weighing the container after it has been packed, or Method 2, which requires weighing all the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container.
3. Estimating weight is not permitted. The shipper (or by arrangement of the shipper, a third party) has a responsibility to weigh the packed container or to weigh its contents. Under either Method, the weighing equipment used must meet national certification and calibration requirements. Further, the party packing the container cannot use the weight somebody else has provided, except in one specific set of defined circumstances.
4. A carrier may rely on a shipper’s signed weight verification to be accurate. The carrier does not need to be a “verifier” of the shipper’s weight verification. Nor do the SOLAS amendments require a carrier to verify that a shipper providing a verified weight according to Method 2 has used a method which has been certified and approved by the competent authority of the jurisdiction in which the packing and sealing of the container was completed. However, it is important to note that, for the shipper’s weight verification to be compliant with the SOLAS requirement, it must be “signed”, meaning a specific person representing the shipper is named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper.