On November 26 2014 the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) announced the adoption of amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Chapter VI, Part A, Regulation, for the mandatory verification of container weight.
On July 1st 2016, the SOLAS amendment of IMO on mandatory container weight verification will come into force for packed containers being loaded for transportation.
From this date, no container will be allowed on to a vessel unless its weight has been verified beforehand.
The shipper of the packed container, regardless of who packed it, will be responsible for verifying and provide the container’s gross weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative before to it is loaded for transport onto a vessel.
The amendments are an effort to address safety concerns both on shore and at sea concerning container shipments with inaccurate declarations of weight.
All regulated parties need to be ready to implement and abide by the container weight verification requirements by 1 July 2016, with industry being in a period of transition since the IMO announced SOLAS amendment.
Compliance with the new rules will require those within the industry’s supply chain, in particularly terminal operators, shippers and carriers, to create and implement a process to make sure that verified container weights are given to all relevant parties within an appropriate time frame and used in the ship’s container stowage plan.
Should a container arrive at a port for export without a verified gross weight, it will be prevented from being loaded until it is provided.
The SOLAS regulations prescribe two methods by which the shipper may obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container:
Method No.1: Upon the conclusion of packing and sealing a container, the shipper may weigh, or have arranged that a third party weighs, the packed container. This particular method is suitable for all containers and any kind of goods.
Method No.2: The shipper (or, by arrangement of the shipper, a third party), may weigh all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material to be packed in the container, and add the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses of the contents of the container.
Any third party that has carried out some or all of the packing of the container should notify the shipper of the mass of the cargo items and packing and securing material that the party has packed into the container in order to facilitate the shipper’s verification of the gross mass of the packed container under Method No.2.
For some types of cargo that would present difficulties in being measured individually such as scrap metal, unbagged grain and other bulk cargo, Method No.2 would not be suitable.
For both methods, the equipment used to determine the weight of the container must meet the required accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used.