28 June 2016

Export Shippers Final Questions Answered Before SOLAS VGMs Required on Shipping Containers  

Deadline Draws Close but Knowledge Pooled by Freight Industry Big Guns in Further FAQ Release

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Shipping News Feature WORLDWIDE – Following up from last week’s report on how ports around the globe are handling the situation, and with just days to go before implementation of the new, mandatory Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulations making shippers legally bound to produce a Verified Gross Mass (VGM) for any export shipping container no matter where bound from or to, some of the industry’s most august bodies have issued a final series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in an attempt to assist anyone who is not familiar with their legal obligations.

The World Shipping Council (WSC), the TT Club, the International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), and the Global Shippers’ Forum (GSF) have attempted to cover all bases as 1 July 2016 rapidly approaches. Like the initial joint industry FAQ document, published last December, these new supplementary FAQs are based on actual questions from affected stakeholders regarding proper implementation of the new regulations.

The parties involved point out that container safety is a shared responsibility, and all parties have an interest in improving the safety of ships, their crews and others throughout the containerised supply chain while reducing the risk of damages to cargo. With some of the horrific accidents caused in the past directly as a result of misdeclared container weights the full implementation of the new regulations should be welcomed by all shippers.

The supplementary FAQs include new questions and answers as well as expanded answers to some of the questions listed in the December FAQs. As such, these FAQs do not introduce new interpretations or approaches, but seek to provide further assistance in explaining the SOLAS VGM requirements by building on existing guidance material. Some of the information is available in Chinese and can thus be forwarded by importers of Chinese goods to their suppliers.

Some of the supplementary FAQs explain in more detail how the SOLAS container verified gross mass requirements should be fulfilled in various circumstances as described in questions received from supply chain parties. Other supplementary FAQs are intended to give additional information regarding the two methods that may be used under the SOLAS VGM requirements to obtain the verified gross mass of a packed container.

Stakeholders are urged to continue to approach any of the collaborating organisations with additional questions that may arise after the enforcement date of the regulation on 1 July. Contact details of subject-matter experts from each of the organizations can be found at the end of the FAQs document.

Photo: DP World's new facility at London Gateway is geared up to assist shippers.

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