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Container VGM: One Month In

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Author(s): Captain Richard W A Brough O.B.E., Technical Adviser, ICHCA International, London, UK

It has been almost a month since the inception of the IMO’s SOLAS Amendment requiring shippers to verify the gross mass of a packed container which came into force on July 1, 2016. Prior to the event itself, many in the shipping community were in near uproar citing a lack of communication, a lack of wide consultation on the measures and a lack of individual government preparedness for this new law.

It is true that many national administrations had not yet declared their own rules and approach to VGM, a TT Club report estimated that only 15 to 20% of the many nations who are signatory to SOLAS had done so.

Coupled with that uncertainty was the requirement for equipment used to obtain VGM (By either Method 1; weighing the packed container in its entirety, or Method 2;weighing the individual cargo items, packing, packaging, dunnage and securing materials and adding the tare of the container) to be certified to the standards of the competent authority.

Some in the industry saw “tare weight” as a problem. Always written on the container doors, some said, at a recent ICHCA seminar: “…do you mean we actually have to go outside and look at the door?” To counteract such negativity, the shipping lines have made tare weights available on their web portals and BIC have produced a database of all tare weights for ISO containers registered with them, so it shouldn’t be difficult should it?…



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