IMO's container weight verification rule enters into force
The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its ninety-fourth session in November 2014, adopted, inter alia, amendments to SOLAS regulation VI/2, to require the mandatory verification of the gross mass of packed containers. This requirement enters into force today, July 1, 2016.
The verification of the gross mass can be achieved by either of two methods: weighing the packed container; or weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
In addition to the amendments to SOLAS regulation VI/2 and with a view to establishing a common approach for the implementation and enforcement of the SOLAS requirements regarding the verification of the gross mass of packed containers, the Maritime Safety Committee approved the Guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo (MSC.1/Circ.1475).
The aforementioned SOLAS amendments introduce two main new requirements: the shipper is responsible for providing the verified weight by stating it in the shipping document and submitting it to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan; and the verified gross mass is a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship.
The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) at its 96th session in May 2016 agreed that while there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS requirements, it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing them, for a period of three months immediately following 1 July 2016. This would help ensure that containers that are loaded before 1 July 2016, but transhipped on or after 1 July 2016, reach their final port of discharge without a verified gross mass and it would provide flexibility, for three months immediately after 1 July 2016, to all the stakeholders in containerized transport to refine, if necessary, procedures (e.g. updated software) for documenting, communicating and sharing electronic verified gross mass data.
The MSC agreed MSC.1/Circ.1548 Advice to Administrations, port State control authorities, companies, port terminals and masters regarding the SOLAS requirements for verified gross mass of packed containers.
In Russia, the Ministry of Transport instructed Russian Maritime Register of Shipping (RS) to certify, in the name of the state, organizations verifying the gross mass of packed containers through both methods.
RS inspects organizations to verify their compliance with GOST requirement, availability of calibrated weighing devices, compliance of the methods applied to SOLAS requirements, etc. Information on the certified organizations will be publically available and submitted to state port control authorities.
State port control authorities will hold inspections to ensure that both the captain of a vessel and the terminal are provided with VGM. Absence of VGM information should not lead to vessel detention but fault code 01316 ‘freight information’ should be registered.
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