SOLAS Updates

In response to shipper concern over potential discrepancies in container tare weight, OCEMA (Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association) has announced it will issue a common tariff rule this week or next to protect shippers. The tariff rule will state that customers will not be held legally liable for inaccuracies in container tare weight when generating a verified gross mass (VGM) under the SOLAS regulation. 

On Tuesday, May 10, the Port Newark Container Terminal announced it will offer container weighing services to its customer for a fee. The terminal, which is operated by Ports America, will charge $69.10 to weigh each container that arrives at its facility without the VGM. 

The South Carolina Ports Authority has confirmed it will charge shippers $25 per container for weighing services at the Port of Charleston. Read more here

The Port of Baltimore’s Ports America Chesapeake terminal operator has announced it will provide on-site container weighing services to shippers. The fee structure has not been published as of yet.

The Virginia Port Authority initially stated it would reject containers without VGM information but has since revised its position regarding SOLAS. On Tuesday, the Virginia Port Authority said it will weigh containers and provider container weights to exporters, however, the fee for the service has not been announced. Read the official release here

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are reportedly considering offering container weighing services to help shippers comply with SOLAS beginning on July 1. Terminal operators at the largest U.S. port complex worry that weighing export containers under SOLAS regulations could create congestion at terminal gates. The 13 terminal operators have not yet reached a consensus on container weighing services but have sought legal advice from its counsel. At a meeting in Long Beach on Monday, May 9, some terminal attorneys expressed liability concerns in the case of injuries or damage in addition to weight discrepancies tied to imprecise weighing methods. According to the Journal of Commerce (JOC), to precisely measure the VGM, a longshoreman would have to place the container on a yard tractor, drive to the scale, lift the container from the yard tractor, place it on the scale to be weighed and then reload the container onto the yard tractor. High repetition of this procedure could slow yard operations and consequently negatively impact truck turn times due to long queues. John Cushing, President of PierPass Inc., stated terminals are awaiting advisement from its council before implementing any container weighing services at the port complex. 

APM Terminals (APMT), Maersk group’s port arm, announced this week that it will offer container weighing services at 29 of its locations around the world. Click here to see a list of the locations

Following the previously announced maritime authority meeting in Mumbai, India, the country has further revised its SOLAS guidelines. The Ministry of Shipping has increased the maximum variance threshold for SOLAS compliance. This threshold has been expanded to plus-or-minus 1,000 kilograms (about 2,204 pounds), compared to the previously stated 500 kilograms (about 1,102 pounds). The maritime administrator also advised that all weighing activities must take place off-site to avoid port congestion. Every container which arrives at an Indian terminal must be accompanied by a VGM, which will need to be signed by the shipper or their authorized party. The agency’s final ordinance is expected within the next few days.