• ITVI.USA
    15,360.600
    75.400
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.768
    -0.011
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.410
    -0.010
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,331.810
    75.820
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,360.600
    75.400
    0.5%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.768
    -0.011
    -0.4%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.410
    -0.010
    0%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,331.810
    75.820
    0.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.590
    0.150
    10.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.080
    0.130
    3.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.330
    0.020
    0.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.300
    0.000
    0%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.170
    0.020
    0.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.140
    0.190
    6.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    125.000
    -1.000
    -0.8%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Carriers look to tamp down shipper concern over certifying container tare weights

Federal Maritime Commissioner William P. Doyle praised the statement from ocean carrier group OCEMA, but noted officials “still need to address an important liability issue for the shippers” in order to implement new verified gross mass requirements.

   The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) issued a statement late Tuesday saying, “Shippers should have no concerns with certifying the tare weight of containers they do not own” when they start submitting the verified gross mass of containers on July 1 as required by an amendment in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.
   OCEMA, an organization of 19 ocean carriers, said both the “best practices” they issued in March and guidelines from the International Maritime Organization, make clear shippers are not certifying tare weights when they submit verified gross mass (VGM) data.
   Shippers can meet the requirement that a container weight be provided before it is loaded on a ship by either weighing the stuffed container or adding the weight of the cargo to the tare weight of the container.
   The IMO guidelines also state, “If the verified gross mass of a packed container is obtained by weighing the container while it is on a road vehicle, (e.g. chassis or trailer), the tare mass of the road vehicle (and, where applicable, the tractor) should be subtracted to obtain the verified gross mass of the packed container. The subtraction should reflect the tare mass of the road vehicle (and, where applicable, the tractor) as indicated in their registration documents as issued by the competent authority of the State where these assets are registered. The mass of any fuel in the tank of the tractor should also be subtracted.”
   “OCEMA’s Best Practice explicitly states that it is acceptable for shippers to rely upon the tare weight made available by the ocean carrier and that the shipper would not be certifying the accuracy of the container tare weight printed on the container,” the carrier group said. “Container tare weights are required by U.S. and international law to be marked on the container and are clearly visible on the container door.”
   Commissioner William P. Doyle of the Federal Maritime Commission said, “OCEMA’s statement on container weighing this evening is welcome news” and called it a “step in the right direction.”
   “We still need to address an important liability issue for the shippers,” said Doyle. “The shippers do not own, maintain and/or control ocean shipping containers. The liability of the ‘actual’ tare weight of a container is the responsibility of the ocean carrier and thus remains a concern to the shippers — and it is indeed a legitimate concern.
   “I understand the ocean carriers are cognizant of this ‘actual’ tare weight matter and they are working through their channels in industry to solve this equipment weight liability issue,” he added. “From a commercial and small business (farmers included) standpoint, it is not acceptable for for U.S. manufacturers and exporters, and their contracted truckers, to be turned away from a marine terminal gate when this rule is implemented.
   “Let’s keep the dialogue open, discussion moving forward and all parties in the loop. Good work this evening by the ocean carriers from a communications perspective. However, more work remains to be completed before July 1.”
   OCEMA said its members are looking into additional options and that “carriers are working on automating this process.”
   “Some OCEMA members are providing a database of their owned and leased containers on their web sites that will provide access to container tare weights,” it said. “Other carrier members of OCEMA are developing automated or calculational capabilities on web portals.”
   OCEMA said its member carriers, “who will need to receive and assimilate millions of VGM filings each year, believe the best practice is a very effective, flexible and practical basis for compliance.”
   “The U.S. has a large and fast-paced export container trade, often with containers meeting vessel cutoffs at deadlines,” the group added. “It is data driven, so like all processes in our modern economy, a common approach to compliance is essential to avoid disruption.”
   “Shippers have asked for a standard VGM process. OCEMA has provided a common sense approach to the VGM process for use in the U.S.
   It said its best practice for the acceptance and transmission of VGM “is a voluntary guideline that facilitates compliance with VGM requirements, while providing multiple ways for U.S. exporters to provide VGM to the ocean carrier. Anyone having a PC, laptop or smartphone can comply.”
   For shippers who have concerns about the best practice because of unusual circumstances, OCEMA said it “remains available to find solutions.”
   “The time is short. There is much to do. OCEMA urges all companies in the export logistics process to get down to the detailed work of developing workable processes for VGM for their companies,” the group said. “As shown by the Best Practice, this requires attention, but it need not be difficult. If the focus is on efficient compliance, we can have a soft landing on July 1.”
   “At the end of the day, this is a safety measure,” said Doyle. “Ships are larger and carry more containers topside than ever before. Instead of containers being stacked 5 containers-high topside, containers are now being stacked 10 and 11 containers-high on deck. The lashing of these containers is pertinent to the safety of the crew and dockworkers — therefore, the weight of these containers is a true safety concern.”
   The OCEMA members are: American President Lines, Atlantic Container Line, CMA CGM, COSCO Container Lines, China Shipping Group, Evergreen Marine Corporation, Hamburg-Süd, Hapag-Lloyd,
Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., “K” Line, Maersk Line, Mediterranean Shipping Co., Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, NYK Line, Orient Overseas Container Line, United Arab Shipping Company, Wan Hai Lines Ltd., Yang Ming Marine Transport Corp., and ZIM Integrated Shipping Services.

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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