INTERNATIONAL MARITIME ORGANISATION
In order to address safety problems at sea and on shore arising from container shipments that have incorrect weight declarations, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) made amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
The mis-declaration of container weights has resulted in:
- Numerous casualties to vessels
- The lives of ship’s crew and stevedores being placed at risk
- Damage to equipment e.g. ships lifting appliances, shore cranes and lifting gear
- Cargo being left behind because vessels are unexpectedly overloaded
In 2014 they introduced Guidelines Regarding the Verified Gross Mass of a Container Carrying Cargo (MSC 1/Circ1475). The International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) new requirements go into effect on July 1, 2016. The SA maritime industry was advised of the SOLAS amendments, through Marine Notice 11 of 2015, distributed on 26th June 2015.
- Prior to loading cargo units on board ships, the shipper shall ensure that the gross mass of such units is in accordance with the gross mass declared on the shipping documents.
- Any shipping container leaving from any port in the world must be accompanied by a shipping document signed by the shipper on the bill of lading listing the verified gross mass of a container in order to be loaded onto a ship.
- Weighing must be done on scales calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing was performed.
Failure to provide this information may result in the master of the vessel refusing to load the container.
SOLAS regulations provide for two separate methods to obtain the verified gross weight of containers:
Method No. 1 – weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified weighing equipment.
Method No. 2 – weighing the packages and cargo items including all packing and securing equipment and adding this to the tare weight of the container, using a certified method approved by the competent authority, or its authorized body.
In South Africa, the method used for weighing the container’s contents under method 2, is subject to certification and approval as determined by SAMSA. Companies which are authorized to use method 2 are registered on a database maintained by SAMSA.