A broad coalition of shipping groups yesterday jointly released a document compiled in response to numerous questions raised by the industry and trade community about amendments to the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention that call for packed shipping containers to have a verified gross mass (VGM) before they can be loaded on a ship for export.
The amendments to the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) Convention, which are due to take effect globally on July 1, 2016, were adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to enhance maritime safety and reduce the dangers to shipping vessels, their crews, and all those involved in container transport throughout the supply chain.
The coalition, comprised of the World Shipping Council (WSC), the TT Club, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF), developed the FAQs document as part of a wider communications strategy to help ensure that shippers, carriers, forwarders, and terminal operators are aware of the SOLAS amendments and encourage them to take appropriate action needed to be in compliance when they take effect next year in order to avoid unnecessary disruptions in the supply chain.
The group notes that, “While the convention relates to the safety of ships at sea, it should be recognized that shore based activities relating to the presentation of cargo are fundamental to safe outcomes at sea.”
The FAQs document seeks to clarify how the SOLAS container weight verification requirements will function in various situations. It identifies commercial and operational arrangements that will have to be addressed, and it flags issues that must be dealt with by national governments. The FAQs are based on actual questions from affected stakeholders, and they will be expanded as new issues emerge.
The coalition says the document should be considered as dynamic; it is not intended to be comprehensive and the group acknowledges that other questions are likely to be raised in future. To that end, stakeholders are invited to approach any of the collaborating organizations with additional queries or concerns. Contact details of ‘subject-matter experts’ from each of the organizations can be found at the end of the FAQs document.
“Container safety is a shared responsibility and all parties have an interest in improving the safety of ships, the safety of cargo and the reduction of the risks to the lives of ships’ crews and others throughout the containerized supply chain,” the coalition concludes.
Click here to download the FAQs document.