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Container Weighing / VGM Regulations

An industry wide issue

Background

TT Club has been closely involved in the industry debate concerning the correct declaration of the weight of packed containers. It is a matter that has contributed to a number of incidents on land and on board ships, albeit that it is fully recognised that weight discrepancies alone rarely are causative. It is an issue that is closely related to packing of CTUs, where TT Club’s analysis of claims has shown that as much as 2/3 of cargo damage claims can be attributed to poor and improper packing.

The issue of weight discrepancies was highlighted in the UK MAIB report into the grounding of ‘MSC Napoli’, where it was described as one that is able to ‘erode or eliminate the safety margins in place’. The theme was taken up in the MARIN ‘Lashing@Sea’ report that was presented to the relevant IMO safety committee in 2010, leading to a work item to identify ways to prevent losses of container at sea.

Revised SOLAS regulation to require ‘verified gross mass’ of packed containers
In November 2014, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopted an amendment to SOLAS to require that shippers obtain the ‘verified gross mass’ (VGM) of packed containers and communicate it to the ocean carrier sufficiently in advance of the ship stow planning. Ocean carriers are obliged to use the VGM in the stow plan and, together with the terminal operator, ensure that any container that does not have a VGM is not loaded on a ship. In effect, this is already in a transitional phase; the revised regulation becomes mandatory on 1 July 2016.

Since it insures all types of operator in the international supply chain, TT Club is in a unique and objective position to support the industry in identifying the complexities of the revised legislation and ensuring that practical solutions are put in place to achieve compliance by 1 July 2016.

Official IMO Documentation

This page will continue to be expanded with relevant material on this subject.

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