It does not come into effect until July 1, 2016, but the World Shipping Council and other organizations are reminding shippers that mandatory amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) will require, regardless of who packed their container, to verify and provide the container’s gross verified weight to the ocean carrier and port terminal representative prior to it being loaded onto a ship.
The vessel and terminal operator are “required to use verified container weights in vessel stowage plans and are prohibited from loading a packed container aboard a vessel for export if the container does not have a verified container weight,” said Peregrine Storrs-Fox, risk management director at insurer TT Club.
While the requirement for container weighing is contained in international maritime legislation adopted by the UN’s International Maritime Organization, Storrs-Fox said “accurate gross mass needs to be determined at the point that the container packing is completed, prior to the first part of the journey starting,” adding that “the probability of incidents and injury is far greater on land, albeit that the potential impact arising from a containership incident is significant.”
He said “accuracy and simplicity of weighing early in or prior to commencing the movement may be a challenge” and weighing equipment will need to be “‘calibrated and certified’ in the particular jurisdiction in which it is used.”
While weights and measures regulations will generally already exist, there is currently no single international standard for accuracy of measurement, which raises the specter that there will – at least for the time being – not be consistency,” Storrs-Fox said.
He mentioned that due to the additional safety benefits inherent in systems that measure how a load is balanced, “TT Club is interested in the development of those that are based around the corner fittings of containers. There are spreader-based twistlock load-sensing technologies already successfully deployed that achieve both weight and eccentricity measurement, and can be implemented at any point the container is lifted, for example at a railhead as well as the port.”
TT Club also noted here might be an implication that contractors consider related regulations such as whether a container is loaded properly under the specification on the CSC plate–the metal plate affixed to containers that gives the maximum loading capacity, or whether a container is overloaded for the entirety of its surface transportation.
Instead of weighing a loaded container, shippers do have the option of calculating the weight—if a container is loaded with 1,000 cartons, the weight of the individual boxes can be taken and summed. But IMO stipulates this method is “inappropriate and impractical” for some cargoes, such as scrap metal, non-bagged grain and other bulk cargoes including those products moving in flexitanks or ISO tank containers.
This column was published in the August 2015 issue of American Shipper.