SHIPPERS REQUIREMENT TO DECLARE CONTAINER WEIGHT ACCURATELY
The International Maritime Organization's (IMO) Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), which met at the Organization's London headquarters for its 94th session, from 17-21 November 2014, approved draft SOLAS amendments which included addressing the continuing industry concern over the (mis-)declaration of weights for containers consigned for shipment.
The amendments to SOLAS Chapter VI state that authorities will "require mandatory verification of the gross mass of containers, either by weighing the packed container; or weighing all packages and cargo items, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed."
Under these regulations the "correct weight", or "verified weight", shall be determined in one of two ways:
1. By weighing the loaded container at an approved weighing station; or
2. By ensuring that all the individual items in the container are weighed and added to the container's weight.
The shipper will be responsible for verification of the weight of a container carrying cargo. The shipper is also responsible for ensuring that the verified weight is communicated in the shipping documents sufficiently in advance to be used by the ship's master or his representative and the terminal representative in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. In the absence of the shipper providing the verified weight of the packed container, it should be considered that the container should not be loaded on to the ship unless the master or his representative and the terminal representative have obtained the verified weight through other means.
The SOLAS requirements are expected to enter into force in July 2016 (see MSC.1/Circ.1475 republished alongside this note).