FMC to Hold Hearing on Container Weighing

The US Federal Maritime Commission is scheduled to host a public hearing on the amendments to the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty that will require container weight verification before cargo is loaded on container ships.

The hearing will be held on February 18, 2016 with the attendance of USCG Rear Admiral Paul Thomas to hear industry and stakeholder concerns regarding implementation of the IMO’s SOLAS regulations.

The session has been scheduled following calls from the Agriculture Transportation Coalition for the FMC and USCG to convene a working group of stakeholders likely to be affected by the amendments.

Specifically the Coast Guard will seek to understand how the industry currently meets the requirements of SOLAS Regulation VI-2, how the amendments that take effect on 1 July impact the existing processes and relationships used to comply with the current requirements in SOLAS.

In addition, the Coast Guard wants to know how it can facilitate, if needed, continued compliance with Regulation VI-2 in a manner that ensures the safety of ships at sea and maintains the efficiency of the Marine Transportation System.

The announcement emerges as creditor rating agency Fitch Ratings warns that US ports have neither designated facilities for weighing containers nor the systems for the verification of container weights, comprimoising their ability to meet IMO’s requirements on verifying weights of shipping containers.

As a result, the rating agency believes that this could raise already chronic congestion at the ports that are slowed by chassis management issues, higher cargo loads from larger vessels and inadequate inland or intermodal links.

Beginning on July 1, 2016, an amendment to SOLAS will require the verified gross mass (VGM) of packed containers to be documented before carriers or terminal operators can load them. Carriers and terminals will be required to receive the VGM in time to use it to make the stowage plan for loading the ship.

World Maritime News Staff