From IMO (International Maritime Organization):
An MSC circular on Advice to Administrations, port State control authorities, companies, port terminals and masters regarding the SOLAS requirements for verified gross mass of packed containers has been agreed by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the IMO, following discussion on the pending entry into force of the requirements in SOLAS regulations on the verification of the gross mass of packed containers on 1 July 2016.
The Regulation will require shippers of packed cargo containers to certify and submit the VGM (verified gross mass – the combined weight of the cargo and container) to the carrier and port terminal operator sufficiently in advance of vessel loading to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan. Some have interpreted this rule to mean that shippers are required to provide the weight of both the cargo and the container, which business groups have warned could lead to higher costs, further port congestion and slower delivery times.
Concerns were noted with regards to the application of the requirements to a container which was loaded before 1 July 2016 and then transhipped. The Committee, noted delegations’ comments that, in the first few months after 1 July 2016, some leeway should be provided in order for any problems resulting from software updates, required for the electronic collection and transmittal of verified gross mass data, to be rectified without causing delays to containers being loaded.
The MSC agreed that while there should be no delay in the implementation of the SOLAS requirements, it would be beneficial if Administrations and port State control authorities could take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing them, for a period of three months immediately following 1 July 2016. This would help ensure that containers that are loaded before 1 July 2016, but transhipped on or after 1 July 2016, reach their final port of discharge without a verified gross mass and it would provide flexibility, for three months immediately after 1 July 2016, to all the stakeholders in containerized transport to refine, if necessary, procedures (e.g. updated software) for documenting, communicating and sharing electronic verified gross mass data.
The MSC emphasized the stability and safe operation of ships, including the safe packing, handling and transport of containers.
To read the entire briefing: MSC