• ITVI.USA
    15,913.180
    -35.240
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.793
    -0.005
    -0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.300
    0.290
    1.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,900.990
    -35.610
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
  • ITVI.USA
    15,913.180
    -35.240
    -0.2%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.793
    -0.005
    -0.2%
  • OTRI.USA
    22.300
    0.290
    1.3%
  • OTVI.USA
    15,900.990
    -35.610
    -0.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.950
    -0.570
    -16.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    3.610
    0.650
    22%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.370
    -0.240
    -14.9%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.550
    0.210
    6.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.320
    0.220
    10.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    4.110
    0.250
    6.5%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    0.000
    0%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

West Coast terminals to continue weighing containers after July 1 SOLAS implementation

Continued weighing at port facilities might provide a convenient way for exporters to comply with the upcoming International Maritime Organization verified gross mass container weight regulations due to go into effect at the beginning of next month.

    Port terminal operators in Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland said Thursday they will continue to weigh trucks carrying containers as they enter their facilities and forward that information to ocean carriers after the new requirement for shippers to provide the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers prior to cargo being loaded on a ship goes into effect on July 1.
   The information may provide a way for exporters to conveniently meet the VGM requirement under the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.
   The West Coast MTO Agreement (WCMTOA), with 13 member terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the Oakland MTO Agreement (OAKMTOA), with three members, noted they already weigh trucks arriving with containers to meet safety requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and assist carriers with planning the stowage of vessels.
   “The terminals recognize that the U.S. Coast Guard will be enforcing the regulation with the ocean carriers. The terminals have notified the U.S. Coast Guard and the ocean carriers that they will continue providing OSHA weights to the ocean carriers, which they can use at their discretion. The terminals are ready to safely load the containers when instructed by the ocean carriers,” the two organizations said.
   “Individual member terminals will establish and communicate their own policies for receiving containers without a VGM,” they added.
   The announcement follows a similar statement two weeks ago by the 19 ocean carrier members of the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA), in conjunction with six major East and Gulf coast port authorities. Those groups said they have established a plan to use port scales to provide VGM information that shippers will be required to send to carriers before their cargo is loaded on to ships as of July 1. The port authorities include the South Carolina Ports Authority, the Georgia Ports Authority, the North Carolina State Ports Authority, the Port of Houston Authority, the Port of Virginia and the Massachusetts Port Authority.
   John Cushing, the president of WCMTOA’s PierPass affiliate, said that it will be up to each terminal as to whether they will accept containers on their facility without a VGM, and then either set those containers aside until VGM data is provided or turn trucks away entirely if they do not have a VGM prior to arriving at their terminals. Cushing said terminals are asking they be contacted directly to find out what their policies are.
   “You don’t want congestion on the terminal. You don’t want to have to start moving boxes without a VGM out of the way to get to a box that does have a VGM to load to a ship,” he said.
   Trucks hauling containers and chassis are weighed as they enter a terminal and either the weight given by the driver for his truck and chassis will be deducted or a formula using an average truck tractor weight and chassis weight is deducted from the gross weight of truck, chassis, and containers to calculate the weight of the loaded containers.
   Cushing said terminals will not morph that into a VGM document, but will give it to the ocean carrier to use at their discretion. He said he was unsure whether ocean carriers will accept the OSHA weight to meet the VGM requirement.
   “The Coast Guard has said that their enforcement will be with the ocean carrier so it is not the terminal’s position to get in between the ocean carrier and the Coast Guard where the enforcement will take place,” he added.
   But Ed DeNike, president of SSA Marine, which has three terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach, two in Oakland, and two in Seattle, said, “The way we understand the SOLAS requirement and the definition from the Coast Guard is we can continue to operate as we have in the past.”
   Subtracting the weight of chassis and truck from the combined weight of truck, chassis and container is “what we understand the Coast Guard believes is adequate to satisfy the SOLAS requirement,” said DeNike.
   He noted SSA’s terminal scales were always calibrated, but now they have been certified so they comply with that requirement under the SOLAS VGM rule. The company will provide the weights as it always has to carriers to aid them in stowing cargo, but it will be up to the shipper and steamship line to decide how to provide the VGM, according to DeNike.
   Jeff Lawrence, the executive director of OCEMA, said the announcement by the terminals “would appear to be another positive response to the US Coast Guard’s recent equivalency declaration” in its Marine Safety Information Bulletin.
   In its April 28 bulletin, the Coast Guard said, “Shippers, carriers, terminals, and maritime associations have outlined multiple acceptable methods for providing verified gross mass (VGM). A couple examples are: (1) the terminal weighs the container, and when duly authorized, verifies the VGM on behalf of the shipper, and (2) the shipper and carrier reach agreement whereby the shipper verifies the weight of the cargo, dunnage, and other securing material, and the container’s tare weight is provided and verified by the carrier.”
   “Like the agreement recently filed with the FMC by OCEMA and the six major public operating ports, the WCMTOA and OAKMTOA announcements hold the possibility of a consistent terminal wide approach to the SOLAS container weight rule in Los Angeles/Long Beach,” said Lawrence.
   “This is also another great example of how the Shipping Act agreement authority, enabled by FMC oversight, can help support supply chain fluidity and address systemic challenges,” he added.
   “The approach of using terminal scales, if used across the board at a terminal or port, can be a useful alternative to shipper generated VGM–the standard approach established by IMO under SOLAS rules and implemented by the OCEMA best practice,” he said.
   UPDATE 3:30 p.m. June 3, 2016:
   Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero on Friday praised the announcements by West Coast terminals, saying they provide a path for carriers and their shippers to reach agreement that the container weight collected to satisfy U.S. mandates from the Occupational Safety and Health Adminstration can also be used for the purposes of reporting the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers.
   “These announcements are positive steps toward achieving the flexibility of compliance with the new VGM reporting standards that we have all sought,” said Cordero.

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.

We are glad you’re enjoying the content

Sign up for a free FreightWaves account today for unlimited access to all of our latest content

By signing in for the first time, I give consent for FreightWaves to send me event updates and news. I can unsubscribe from these emails at any time. For more information please see our Privacy Policy.