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Risk in Context

SOLAS VGM Addresses Overweight Containers

Posted by Matthew Yeshin June 01, 2016

Overweight shipping containers represent a risk to everyone in the transportation industry, potentially causing damage to equipment, vessels, and the people handling containers.  Following the sinking of the MSC Napoli in 2007, it was estimated that some 20% of the containers on board the vessel had discrepancies in the declared and actual weights, and that this discrepancy may have contributed to the accident.  To better address the problem of overweight containers, the World Shipping Council and International Chamber of Shipping made a recommendation that there should be a universal international regulatory requirement that export cargo containers be reliably weighed.  This recommendation of ensuring a verified gross weight (VGM) was incorporated into the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to become law on July 1st 2016.

To comply with SOLAS VGM requirements, all Canadian shippers must communicate the verified gross mass of their container to the shipping line far enough in advance that it can be used in for the stowage plan.  In the event that the VGM is not provided prior to arrival of the container at the terminal, the terminal has the option to reject delivery of the container or hold the container from loading onto the vessel until the VGM has been provided.  This has the potential to delay a shipment and/or cause the shipper to incur additional costs.

Details on the allowed methods for weighing and communicating VGM can be found in the documents linked to on the right, and while some shippers may transfer responsibility for providing container weights to their freight forwarder, the obligation for ensuring the weight is properly communicated remains with the shipper.

Related to:  Marine , Transportation

Matthew Yeshin