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The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is regarded as the most important international treaty for safety at sea. It was adopted in 1914 in response to theTitanicdisaster in 1912. SOLAS specifies the minimum standards for seafaring vessels in terms of construction, equipment and operation, depending on the region they sail in. IMO has now made some amendments which will come into force on 1 July this year.
The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has amended SOLAS and the new requirements will come into force on 1 July 2016. From that date onwards, a packed container must have a verified weight in order to be loaded onto a ship for export (IMO Guidelines, Section 6). The shipper is responsible for the verification of the packed container’s weight. In other words, after 1 July 2016, it will 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. However, packed containers for which a verified weight was provided prior to loading in a preceding load port may be loaded in transshipment ports without having to have their weights re-verified if the port terminal in the transshipment port has been advised of this by the operator of the arriving vessel.
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. At Hitachi Transport System, we have therefore clarified our information requirements as outlined below.
Under the SOLAS amendments, there are two methods shippers may use to determine the container weight once the container packing process has taken place:
The IMO Guidelines state that Method 2 "would be inappropriate and impractical” for "certain types of cargo items (e.g., scrap metal, unbagged grain and other cargo in bulk)” that "do not easily lend themselves to individual weighing of the items to be packed in the container.”
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, as follows: "Individual, original sealed packages that have the accurate mass of the packages and cargo items (including any other material such as packing material and refrigerants inside the packages) clearly and permanently marked on their surfaces, do not need to be weighed again when they are packed into the container,” (IMO Guidelines, paragraph 7.2.1).
This does not permit estimating the cargo weight, but permits using accurate weights that have been clearly and permanently marked on individual, original sealed packages (e.g., flat-screen TVs that have their weight (e.g. X kg) marked by the manufacturer on the box containing the TV).
There is no exception for co-loaded containers. The IMO Guidelines are clear that the shipper named on the ocean carrier bill of lading is the party responsible for providing the container’s verified gross mass (IMO Guidelines, paragraph 7.3). Thus, the "master” forwarder named on the ocean carrier’s bill of lading is responsible for the accurate cargo weight verification of all the cargo from all the co-loading forwarders using the container, and may not simply pass on cargo weights that may have been declared by those other forwarders.
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.
The lack of a signed shipper weight verification can be remedied by weighing the packed container at the port. If the marine terminal does not have equipment to weigh the container and provide a verified weight, alternative means must be found to obtain a verified container weight; otherwise, the packed container may not be loaded on to the ship.
When a marine terminal receives a packed export container that does not have a signed shipper weight verification, there will need to be processes in place at the terminal for obtaining the weight of such containers and using such weights in the vessel stow plan. Terminals and carriers are in the process of agreeing on how these situations will be handled. If a packed container is weighed at the load port, that weight is to be used for vessel stow planning. Vessel stow plans should use verified weights for all packed containers loaded on board.
To help us at Hitachi Transport System to ensure that container operations continue to run as smoothly as possible, please take heed of the information below:
|Container loading by you (or your partner)
Please provide us as your logistics partner with your VGM sheet showing each container’s VGM.
This should ideally show your company name, method used for attaining the VGM, the calculations used, Container No., Seal no., signature of the duly authorised person.
|Container loading by Hitachi Transport System
Before cargo collection, please provide us with your final packing list showing Net and Gross weights of each package. Kindly let us know if you have weighed the packages yourselves to discover the applicable packing list weights. We fully trust the details supplied by you in your packing list and therefore are not obliged to re-weigh any items at any time. We may weigh the loaded container in agreement with the freight-payer.
The timing for submission is very dependent on the individual guidelines of the ocean-carriers.
In order to avoid delays, we would ask you to provide the required information as follows:
|Methods for attaining VGM
Please contact us with any questions.
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