SOLAS: WHERE WE STAND

May, 2016

Container LashingsAs a reminder, the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) rule requiring shippers worldwide to certify the combined weight of the cargo and container is set to go into effect on July 1, 2016.

The SOLAS rule outlines two methods to calculate the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the container and its contents.  One is to weigh the loaded container and subtract the weight of the truck, fuel, driver and chassis, and the other is to weigh the cargo, packaging and dunnage and add in the tare weight of the container.

There has been considerable push back from US shippers who argue they should only be required to provide the weight of the items under their control (cargo, packaging materials and dunnage) and not include the weight of the container, after all they neither own nor maintain the container.  In compliance with past weight regulations, shippers are already required to provide the gross and net weights of their cargo.

Ocean carriers, on the other hand, have stuck to the letter of the rule, which states the “shipper” is responsible for providing the VGM.

Enter the US Coast Guard, who last Friday issued a bulletin declaring “existing US laws and regulations for providing verified container weights are equivalent to the requirements in SOLAS.”  Translated this statement says the current means of achieving the VGM, where the shipper provides the net and gross cargo weights and ocean carriers add in the tare weight of the container, is perfectly acceptable.