containers shipping

IMO Approves SOLAS Amendments for Container Weight Verification

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May 20, 2014

Image (c) Shutterstock/qingqing

The International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) has approved long-awaited changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention that will require container weight verification as a condition for loading packed export containers aboard ships.

Misdeclared container weights have been a long-standing problem for the transportation industry and for governments as they present safety hazards for ships, their crews, other cargo on board, workers in the port facilities handling containers, and on roads. Misdeclaration of container weights also gives rise to Customs concerns.

The approved changes will enter into force in July 2016 upon final adoption by the MSC in November 2014.

The World Shipping Council (WSC), whose members represent about 90 percent of global containership capacity, has been a leading advocate for the container weight verification requirements and has worked cooperatively with the IMO for over seven years to see them materialize. WSC has also participated in the group of experts that developed the new CTU Code.

In order to assist supply chain participants’ and SOLAS Contracting Governments’ implementation of the container weight verification requirement, MSC also issued a MSC Circular with implementation guidelines.

“In taking these decisions, the IMO has demonstrated its continuing leadership in trying to ensure the safe transportation of cargo by the international shipping industry,” said WSC President & CEO, Chris Koch. “We congratulate the IMO Secretary General and the IMO member governments for developing and approving these measures that, when properly implemented and enforced, should provide for long-needed improvement to maritime safety. The SOLAS amendments and related implementation guidelines regarding container weight verification represent a collaborative effort that we were pleased to be a part of and we look forward to final adoption of the amendments in November 2014.”

The MSC also approved a new Code of Practice for the Packing of Cargo Transport Units (CTUs), including intermodal shipping containers. The new CTU Code, which will replace the current IMO/ILO/UNECE Guidelines for packing of CTU, has already been approved by the UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) and will now go to the ILO (international Labour organization) for approval. The CTU Code provides information and guidance to shippers, packers and other parties in the international supply chains for the safe packing, handling and transport of CTUs.

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