A new publication has been developed that addresses a number of questions raised with respect to a new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirement mandating a “verified gross mass” for all shipping containers prior to loading aboard a container ship. The requirement applies to all containers whether carrying dangerous goods or not and will become effective July 1, 2016. The publication was prepared by The World Shipping Council, The TT Club, ICHCA International and The Global Shippers Forum. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) adopted this amendment several years ago in furtherance of its safety mandate, noting that intentional and accidental misdeclaration of container weights has been the source of various marine casualties.
U.S. exporters will need to provide a verified weight of their loaded container(s) to their carrier; carriers will use the information in creating the stowage plan for individual ship sailings, working with marine terminal personnel. Many U.S. exporters are already in compliance, but not all. The brochure describes the two alternative means to obtain a verified weight. U.S. importers need to ensure that their foreign sources are in compliance with the new requirement. The “penalty” for noncompliance is straightforward: the container will not be loaded aboard the ship, and the consequences for supply chains are obvious.
We expect that the U.S. Coast Guard will soon publish guidance for U.S. exporters on obtaining a verified gross mass. DGAC is making arrangements for a Coast Guard speaker to provide an overview of the new requirement and answer questions at our next Quarterly Meeting February 2-4, 2016. A copy of the publication is available HERE.