SOLAS update

THERE IS less than a month until the new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) container weighing regulations come into force and it appears that many stakeholders are still underprepared. There has been an increase in the level of information made available about the compliance requirements, however, there is still a lack of standardisation and coordination.

Those expecting a smooth transition to the new regime on July 1 may have cause for concern as many shippers are not yet ready to comply with the new International Maritime Organisation (IMO) rule. Planning for contingencies is critical to avoid disruptions and compliances process need to be finalised as many carriers are expecting port and logistics delays.

As an experienced International Freight Forwarder, Seabridge is able to advise on the upcoming regulation change and find the best VGM solution to avoid delays throughout the supply chain.

Enforcement

The Maritime Safety Committee of the IMO is calling for ‘practical and pragmatic’ enforcement of the new rules, over a three month settling-in period. This will hopefully reduce teething problems in documenting, communication and sharing Verified Gross Mass (VGM) information. It will also reduce the fear that transshipped containers may be caught out.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has made it clear that when it comes to compliance after July 1 they are initially disposed to educate, promote compliance and assisting stakeholders. This will provide the necessary flexibility for stakeholders to refine procedures for the VGM.

Australian shippers have been largely supportive of the initiative. Although there was initial confusion over some of the VGM requirements, such as the penalties for not complying and what the acceptable methods to reach compliance were.

To reiterate the requirements as of July 1 2016 -

It will be mandatory for each container loaded onto a ship that is engaged in an international voyage to declare a VGM.

The container shipper (or their loading partner) will be responsible for providing the VGM.

The VGM must be presented to

  • The ship’s master or his representative
  • The terminal or its representative

There are two approved methods for calculating the VGM
Method 1: weighing* the packed container
Method 2: weighing* all the packages and cargo items (including pallets and dunnage), then adding the tare mass of the container to calculate the total weight
*with both methods the accuracy of the weighing device needs to comply with the National Measurement Institute Standards

If the VGM is not provided, the packed container WILL NOT be loaded on board the vessel.

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