Five points about SOLAS

The amendment to the SOLAS convention has really shook up the maritime supply chain ever since the IMO approved the long awaited amendments.  It’ll be ten months until these unavoidable laws become effective, 1st July 2016.

There are so many reasons why these amendments to the SOLAS convention is important to our industry.  There are also some key facts that you must be aware of prior to the 1st July 2016 deadline.

1.  Everyone that has something do with a shipping container will be effected (the entire supply chain).

Hopefully by now everyone that needs to know about this new requirement is now aware of it’s fast approaching date .  Shippers will need to ensure that current systems are amended/streamlined to include the verification of the Verified Gross Mass (VCM) of containers. Vessel operators, terminal operators, truck drivers, unpack depots and consignees will also need to be aware of the Verified Gross Mass.

2.  There’s only two acceptable ways to confirm the Verified Gross Mass/provide Container Weight Declaration.

There are only two methods available to shippers to verify the gross mass of their containers. You must either weigh all the packages loaded, then add the tare weight of the container, OR to weigh the packed container.  If the Verified Gross Mass of the container cannot be supplied and certified, the container will not be loaded onto the vessel.

3. The new regulation with increase safety.

Yes, yes and yes – it sure will!  Too many accidents have occurred due to mis-calculation or under declarations of container weights. The MSC Napoli incident highlights this fact, with one out of ten containers weighing far in-excess of the declared weight.  Not only seafarers lives, but all the supply chain, are at risk with this unsafe practice of mis-declaration of container weights.  Recently it was reported that a truck driver in the UK was concerned about his container load.  He took the 40′ container that he was transporting via a weighbridge, it weighed a whopping 96 tonnes.  Far more than the 30 tonnes that was declared. Wow.

4.  How accurate must the weighing be?

Whilst this is still in determination, reports are suggesting that the accuracy of the Verified Gross Mass of containers must be within 1-2%.

5.  The shipper is the responsible party.

With any new regulation, certain aspects are still be ironed out across the board.  At this stage we know that the shipper (or a third party under the shipper’s responsibility) is required to weigh the packed container or all of its contents, depending on the selected method. The weighing equipment that is used must meet national certification and calibration requirements. The SOLAS amendments demand that the weight verification must be ‘signed’: a specific person must be named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper. A carrier may rely on this signed weight verification as being accurate. The definition of shipper is still being discussed here in Australia.

Want to know more about the amendments to the SOLAS convention?  Check out these posts:

Overweight containers – the problem

Weight Watching

Why weight?

Who’s weighting?