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Web alert: SOLAS amendments - container weight verification

10 December 2015

Members are advised that amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) will change the responsibilities of a shipper wishing to transport a container by sea. These amendments relate specifically to the weight of the container and are designed to prevent overweight containers being loaded onboard the vessel and the various associated problems with lashing, stability etc that may ensue.

From 1 July 2016 the onus for verifying the weight of a container, manifested in the form of a verified gross mass (VGM) will be placed on the shipper. The VGM will be included in shipping documents which will then be supplied to the Master. To fulfil these responsibilities the shipper may use one of two methods:

Method 1: weighing the container after it has been packed

Method 2: weighing all the cargo and all contents loaded into the container and adding this to the weight of the empty container (marked tare weight) to calculate the gross mass

Estimating the weight of containers will not be permitted, and the equipment used to weigh the container must meet national certification and calibration requirements.

The Australian Maritime Safety Agency (AMSA) has looked at the issues surrounding the practical implementation of these new regulations and has produced a discussion paper which explains the nature of the new regulation and how it will be implemented in Australia [see the attached discussion paper on the right].