Safety is crucial in our industry. However, in our current shipping process, the accurate weight of containers is not always given by shippers. The incorrect declaration of container weight has led to accidents in the past and continues to pose a huge risk.
Effective from 1st July 2016, with the SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) amendment covering container weighing regulations, a packed container will no longer be allowed to be loaded on board vessels unless its Verified Gross Mass (VGM) has been provided by the shipper to the ocean carriers and/or port terminal representatives prior to the load list cut-off date.
The new regulation was adopted by the IMO (International Maritime Organization) to increase maritime safety and reduce the dangers to cargo, containers, and all those involved in container transport throughout the supply chain.
The Verified Gross Mass (VGM) is the weight of the cargo including dunnage and bracing plus the tare weight of the container carrying this cargo. SOLAS requires the shipper to provide VGM in a “shipping document”, either as part of the shipping instruction or in a separate communication, before vessel loading.
The shipper is obliged to verify the gross mass of the containers carrying their cargo by either of these two permissible weighing methods before these containers can be loaded on a vessel:
Requires weighing the container after it has been packed.
Using calibrated and certified equipment, the shipper or a third party duly appointed by the shipper weighs the packed container at the end of the stuffing operation once the seal is affixed.
Requires weighing all the cargo and contents of the container and adding those weights to the container’s tare weight as indicated on the door end of the container.
The shipper or a third party, by arrangement of the shipper, weighs all packages, cargo items, pallets, dunnage and other packing and securing material and adds the tare mass of the container. The total sum finally obtained is the weight to be provided. This method is subject to certification and approval by the competent authority of the State in which the packing and sealing of the container was completed.
The shippers or shippers’ representative then submits the VGM to SeaLand via one of the following channels: Third party websites, www.SeaLand.com, EDI, or e-mail.
Important: If the VGM for every container has not been submitted, the container cannot be loaded on the vessel.