SOLAS – A Global requirement

There’s less than one month to go until the amendments to the SOLAS convention come into effect.

As July 1st 2016 edges closer, shippers and other industry members are starting to question whether or not this rule applies to them.

Let us start this post by re-introducing the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The IMO is the United Nations specialised agency with responsibly for the safety and security of shipping and the prevention of marine pollution by ships. There are 171 member states in the IMO and chances are that the country you are currently residing in is one of them. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), a division of the IMO, is the department that it responsible for pushing forward the amendments to the SOLAS convention – that which includes the MANDATORY verification of container gross mass prior to export.

It is the IMO/MSC that have been driving these important changes for the shipping industry worldwide. The changes aim to make the transportation of cargo, via sea, safer for all those involved within the supply chain.  But with any notable BIG change any industry, the mandatory inclusion of the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) requirement prior to a container being loaded on board a vessel is causing more concern than necessary.

Here’s what you need to know and it’s pretty simple:

  •  Every shipper WORLDWIDE will need to provide a VGM for their packed export container prior to the container being taken to the port. Shipping companies will only load containers that have a Verified Gross Mass (VGM).
  •  The SOLAS rule prescribes two methods of verifying your container’s gross mass.  Method One and Method Two as described here.
  •  If a VGM is not provided, the container is not allowed to be loaded.

These new rules apply to everyone – there is no exemptions.  It is not a money making scheme and the only people that will benefit from these long needed changes is everyone that has ever been involved in the movement of shipping containers.We’re talking about the shippers, buyers, ship operators, captains, terminal operators, warehouse staff, transport operators and unpacking crews.  Safety is paramount and every tonne counts.