In the 07 December 2015 issue of our column, we introduced to our readers a list of industry terminologies that we projected will be trending during this year. Now we have to urgently add a new one – VGM or verified gross mass.
The Philippine Ports Authority alerted the industry about it during the latter part of last year. The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) believes PPA should “take the lead and act as the competent government authority in addressing and resolving the national issues. And now, the Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association is co-organizing with PortCalls a public forum on this topic which will be held on 11 March (Friday). To register for the forum, go to www.scribd.com/doc/301637849/Registration-form-Mar-11-SOLAS-Forum.
Verified Gross Mass (VGM)
The International Maritime Organization Maritime Safety Committee (MSC), at its ninety-fourth session (17-21 November 2014), adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulation VI/2 to require the mandatory verification of the gross mass of packed containers.
In addition to the amendments to SOLAS regulation VI/2 and with a view to establishing a common approach for the implementation and enforcement of the SOLAS requirements regarding the verification of the gross mass of packed containers, the Maritime Safety Committee approved the Guidelines regarding the verified gross mass of a container carrying cargo (MSC.1/Circ.1475).
The aforementioned SOLAS amendments introduce two main new requirements:
- The shipper is responsible for providing the verified weight by stating it in the shipping document and submitting it to the master or his representative and to the terminal representative sufficiently in advance to be used in the preparation of the ship stowage plan; and
- The verified gross mass is a condition for loading a packed container onto a ship.
The verification of the gross mass can be achieved by either of two methods:
- Weighing the packed container; or
- Weighing all packages and cargo items, including the mass of pallets, dunnage and other securing material to be packed in the container and adding the tare mass of the container to the sum of the single masses, using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the State in which packing of the container was completed.
VGM or Verified Gross Weight (VGW)
In my own personal opinion and based on the perspective of understanding the specific mandatory data required to comply with the IMO SOLAS amendment, I believe that VGM is the appropriate terminology to be used because of at least two (2) reasons:
- Avoiding confusion with the container gross weight data element used in customs and commercial shipping documentation
- The new UN EDIFACT electronic data interchange (EDI) message standard called VERMAS (Verification of Mass)
Leo V. Morada is a domain expert on IT applications in Philippine port operations with more than 30 years’ senior IT management experience implementing technology solutions in port operations, electronic transactions with customs & port authority, and air/sea port community system applications. He is Director of Cargo Data Exchange Center, Inc, a Value-Added Service Provider accredited by the Bureau of Customs and the Philippine Economic Zone Authority. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.