Helle Hammer, Managing Director Cefor & Chair of the International Union of Marine Insurance (IUMI) Political Forum discuss about Container Weighing Rules.
As of 1 July 2016, only containers with a verified gross mass will be allowed to be loaded on board a vessel (although IMO is allowing a grace period of three months).
Although the new SOLAS requirement was adopted in 2014, many shippers and forwarders are still unprepared, and masters will have little choice but to refuse unverified containers.
In the short term, non-compliance is likely to affect the cargo insurance sector. Issues include increases in risk exposure due to disturbances in the supply chain, delays for perishable or time-sensitive cargoes, and the consequent accumulation risk associated with more containers languishing in ports.
Additionally, liability underwriters will have short-term issues with clients in the logistics sector as their exposure increases.
Failure to comply on the other hand, will have serious safety implications. The long-term effect will help save lives, and reduce both cargo and hull losses.
Due to the increasing growth in international trade, the number of containers stacked on top of each other is continually growing. When loaded, overweight containers can cause injury to dock workers and damage containers stored underneath during transportation
. Containers that are misdeclared can cause equipment or chassis damage when they reach port.
In a worst-case scenario the balance of a vessel can be altered and this might easily impair its stability. For these reasons, IUMI remains strongly in favour of the new SOLAS amendment.
The new regulation requires verification of a packed container’s gross mass by the shipper sufficiently in advance for use in the ship
stowage preparation plan. By way of a compromise solution, either of two approved methods may achieve the verification: 1. weighing the packed container using calibrated and certified equipment; or 2. weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
While welcoming the requirement, IUMI would have favored the mandatory weighing of all boxes prior to loading, and remains concerned that with this compromise solution mis-declaration may still occur. Consequently, the application of the new SOLAS amendment should be carefully monitored and new action taken if necessary.
In a recent statement, IUMI has warned of the possible insurance implications if found in breach of the new requirement.
Stakeholders may find their insurance cover invalid if failing to comply. Shippers and cargo interests should check their insurance conditions on delay and/or in the event of unsuitable packing/conditioning.
IMO guidelines and industry guidance for the implementation of the new requirement are already in place. To deal with expected short-term disruptions, the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee recently agreed on a circular advising Administrations and Port Control Authorities to adopt a practical and pragmatic approach when verifying compliance. This approach will be offered over a threemonth settling-in-period after 1 July.