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SOLAS container weight verification

The new requirements, approved by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in 2014, have been created to reduce the number of international incidents caused by containers whose weights have been miscalculated or misdeclared.

To ensure the safety of the ship, the safety of workers both aboard ships and ashore, the safety of cargo and overall safety at sea, the International Convention for the Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS) has been amended (chapter VI, part A, regulation 2) to require (by law) that packed containers' gross mass are verified prior to stowage aboard ship. This legislation covers all SOLAS regulated vessels, which is 98.6% of the world's tonnage.

From the 1 July 2016, it is a legal requirement for every export container to have a verified container weight as a condition for loading aboard a vessel. All regulated parties within the container supply chain (shippers, carriers, terminal operators) need to establish and implement processes in order to abide by these new regulations in time for the enforcement date.

The IMO's SOLAS amendments provide two approved methods in determining the container weight:

  • Method 1 - weighing the loaded container
  • Method 2 - weighing the contents of the container and adding those weights to the containers tare weight

Background to IMO ruling

The misdeclaration of container weights is a significant industry issue that arises in almost every trade and has led to a number of catastrophic incidents. Proper container handling and safe vessel stowage planning requires the verification of accurate container weights before the vessel loading process occurs.

Download the World Shipping Council's presentation "Verification of container weights; background and new operational reality" delivered at The International Cargo Handling Coordination Association's container weighing seminar, September 2015, for further information.

MSC Napoli 

In January 2007, the containership MSC Napoli suffered a structural failure and broke up off the coast of the UK. Misdeclared container weights were identified as a factor causing the structural failure.

Upon reviewing the official investigation report, the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch invited the World Shipping Council and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) to develop industry best practices for safe container handling. For other examples of incidents involving misdeclared container weights see IMO document DSC17/INF.5

The IMO recognised and discussed the problem of incorrect container weights for over seven years, spurred on by the MSC Napoli incident. With the input of many governments and industry organisations, it has now approved an openly and carefully negotiated and crafted compromise proposal for addressing this recognised and documented safety and Customs problem.

How Strainstall can support SOLAS container weight verification compliance:

Find out how Strainstall can help you achieve SOLAS compliance for container weighing verification. Download our 'Container weight verification: how to achieve fast, accurate and commercially viable SOLAS compliance' technical paper or read about the successful trials that prove our container weighing system delivers extremely high accuracy levels. Alternatively, find out more about our Container Weight System™ and contact us to make an an enquiry at cws@strainstall.com.

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