Increased Safety With Mandatory Weighing Of Containers

By Joseph R. Fonseca
Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Last week, the IMO approved international regulations ensuring the weighing of containers before their carriage by sea. The provisions will increase safety, contribute to preventing accidents and prevent loss of containers over board.

 
For several years, Denmark has worked to acquire better weight data about containers carried at sea. Denmark was also one of the promoters of the new, stricter regulations. It is a milestone that the IMO has now approved international SOLAS regulations. The regulations ensure that a container is not loaded without its weight having been verified in accordance with specific regulations and without the shipper having informed the ship and the loading terminal about this.
 
The weight of containers is of importance to safety as incorrect information may cause container stacks to collaps, containers to fall over board and, as the worst case scenario, ship accidents due to overloading of ships. This was illustrated recently when the container ship MOL COMFORT broke in two. Despite several attempts, it was not possible to recover the parts of the hull, which sank whereby several thousand containers were lost. The marine investigation report specifically points out that the accident occurred due to overload.
 
At the same time, container ships are getting larger and larger. Therefore, it is of great importance to the ship’s stability and hull integrity that exact weight data are available about the cargo. It is possible to determine the correct weight of a container in two ways. Either by weighing the loaded container at an approved weighing station, or by ensuring that the individual elements in the container are weighed and added to the container’s own weight.
 
It is expected that the new regulations will be adopted at the session of the Maritime Safety Committee to be held in the autumn of 2014.
 
Enhanced safety of navigation in polar areas Furthermore, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee passed a milestone when the Committee approved internationally binding regulations on navigation in Arctic waters. The regulations will make navigation in icy waters safer and include, inter alia, requirements for design, life-saving appliances and crew training. A separate news item is available here.
 
Other especially interesting issues on the agenda were the following:
 
    Passenger ship safety
    Escape routes from machinery spaces
    Transfer of persons at sea
    Safety on laid up ships
    Piracy
    Inspection of life-saving appliances
    Adopted amendments to SOLAS and associated codes
    Fixed intervals of future SOLAS amendments
 
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