Important Amendments to SOLAS Chapter VI, Container gross mass verifications
WHY HAVE CONTAINER GROSS MASS VERIFICATIONS BEEN IMPLEMENTED INTO SOLAS?
To protect overall safety at sea which includes the safety of ships, cargo, shore side workers and ships’ crews by ensuring that all containers have their gross mass verified prior to being loaded on board a vessel.
When does the amendment take effect?
July 1, 2016
TO WHAT VESSELS DOES IT APPLY?
All cargo vessels. However, for cargo vessels less than 500GT,the administration* may take other measures to ensure the
safety of the vessel if it considers that the sheltered nature and conditions of a voyage are suitable to enable this.
Does it apply to all containers?
It applies to all containers to which the Convention for Safe Containers 1972 (CSC), applies and which are to be stowed on
a vessel which is determined by the administration, subject to SOLAS Chapter VI. There is an exception for containers carried on a chassis or a trailer when such containers are driven on or off a ro-ro ship engaged in short international voyages**.
What is the verified gross mass?
It is the total gross mass of a packed container which has gone through the verification process. The gross mass is the combined mass of the container’s tare weight and that of all the cargo, packing and securing within the container.
What party is responsible for obtaining the gross mass verification?
The shipper, who is th person whose name apperas on the bill of lading or the transport document.
WHAT FORM WILL THE GROSS MASS VERIFICATION DOCUMENT TAKE?
This can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or in a separate communication. In either case, the document should clearly highlight that the gross mass provided is the ‘verified gross mass’. The document, in whatever form, should be signed by a person authorised by the shipper. This can be electronic or replaced by the name,
in capitals, of the person authorised to sign it.
HOW IS THE GROSS MASS OF A CONTAINER VERIFIED?
This is obtained by either the unit being weighed upon the conclusion of the packing and sealing of the unit or by the weighing and collating all of the individual weights of the cargo packages, packing and securing materials to be stowed inside the unit. The tare weight would then be added onto this amount.
IS THERE A DEADLINE FOR WHEN THE SHIPPER MUST SUBMIT THE VERIFIED GROSS MASS?
There is no SOLAS prescribed deadline for this. It is therefore the responsibility of the shipping company to define deadlines for submitting this information. However, the packed containers’ gross masses are to be verified prior to stowage aboard ship. In cases of transhipment (feeder service), the verified gross mass must be determined prior to loading on board the first ship.
WHAT IF THE VERIFIED GROSS MASS IS NOT AVAILABLE BUT THE CONTAINER IS PRESENT FOR LOADING?
The container should not be loaded onto a vessel to which this regulation applies unless the master or his representative has this information to hand in the form of a shipping document. The master, his representative or the terminal may obtain the verified gross mass on behalf of the shipper by weighing at the local facilities. How this is undertaken should be agreed between the commercial parties involved – including apportionment of costs.
Administration means the government of the state whose flag the ship is entitled to fly
** International voyage means an international voyage in the course of which a ship is not more than 200 miles from a port or place in which the passengers and crew could be placed in safety, and which does not exceed 600 miles in length between the last port of call in the country in which the voyage begins and the final port of destination.