Home » Breaking News, Maritime » Ports, carriers demand declaration of verifiable weights of containers

Four international organizations in the shipping and port operations industry are calling on the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to require ships and ports to have a verified actual weight of a container as a safety condition before stowing it on a ship.

The International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH), World Shipping Council (WSC), International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), and BIMCO made the call as the IMO’s Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC) subcommittee, which is responsible for improving the safety of container stowage and ship operations, constructs a Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) requirement that loaded export containers have a verified weight prior to vessel loading.

As instructed by the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee, DSC will consider such a requirement at its next session in September 2012, according to a press release from the four organizations dated December 12, 2011.

“Weighing containers to confirm their actual weight is the right operational and safety practice. It is time to make this a global safety practice and our association will [cooperate] with terminal operators to develop a suitable and effective process,” said Dr. Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH and executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

“Having the actual weights of containers improves safety aboard ships, safety in the ports, and safety on the roads. There is no sound reason to continue the willful toleration of ignorance about cargo containers’ actual weights,” said Torben Skaanild, secretary general of BIMCO.

“Shippers today are legally obligated to provide accurate weights of containers after they have stuffed them with cargo, but there are many instances where their weight declarations are erroneous. An accident involving an incorrect container weight declaration can create potential liabilities for the shipper and others handling the container. Having verified weights of loaded containers will reduce errors and risk, and will eliminate the guesswork from the business for all parties involved,” said Christopher Koch, president of WSC.

All four organizations noted that governments around the world continue to focus on obtaining more complete knowledge of what is actually in cargo containers arriving in their countries, and that customs authorities would welcome having accurate cargo weights as they screen import cargoes.

WSC, ICS, BIMCO, IAPH and other industry parties and interested governments will consult during 2012 about the development of recommended guidelines for implementing the container weighing requirement.


Photo by Michael Newton

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