Recently The IMO (International Maritime Organisation) Voted To Tighten The Rules Surrounding Cargo Weight With Mandatory Verification Of The Gross Weight Of Containers Before Loading Onto A Ship

Mis-declared container weight has been identified by the IMO as a risk to operations and has even been described as ‘the most significant risk to modern container shipping’. SOLAS the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea is wholly concerned with the safety of merchant ships. It ensures compliance with minimum safety standards for ships construction, design and general operations. Its origins date back to the Titanic disaster in 1914, where the number of lifeboats and emergency equipment needed on board became mandatory. However, keeping up to date with safety precautions on board some of the biggest vessels ever built is a constant challenge.


Problems With Misdeclaring Container Weight

Mis-declaring container weight can create major instability problems, causing damage to ship and cargo, as well as the ships overall stability. The new regulations are intended to make shippers responsible for obtaining container weight.

Over the years, the maritime industry has witnessed many incidents reportedly as the direct result of inaccurate container weights. Incidents such as the Container Ship Deneb in Algeciras 2011. A review after the Deneb incident found that out of 168 containers, 1 in 10 had weights far exceeding those declared. In fact, some industry experts suggest that a third of the 130 million containers shipped every year have misdeclared weights.


What Do You Need To Know For 1 July 2016?

The responsibility for obtaining the verified gross mass (VGM) lies with the shipper and these details must be provided to the carrier before loading.

SOLAS have outlined ways in which the shipper can obtain the verified gross mass of a container:

  1. The shipper can weigh the pre-packed and sealed container using calibrated and certified equipment.
  2. The shipper can add the weight of each package, including the packing and other securing material and add the tare weight of the utilized container. The method used to complete this needs to be certified approved by the competent authority of the state in which packing of the container was completed.

Once this information is gathered it will be passed to the carrier and must be stated on the shipping document. Carriers have already issued warnings to shippers that if the VGM information is not received the container will not be loaded onto the vessel.

For more information visit World Shipping Council.


Cost To The Industry

Many have speculated that the changes in SOLAS could cost global shippers an additional £3.13bn every year. At Tuscor Lloyds we are already implementing operational protocols to establish exact weights of all containers we handle. We are committed to safe practice in every element of the supply chain, using only the most highly skilled teams on-site, with years of experience in handling difficult cargoes. The tightening of SOLAS regulations can only improve the safety of operations at sea and so this news is more than welcome to the industry.

If you would like to contact one of our dedicated team to ensure safe, stable sea services then calls us +44 (0) 161 868 6000 or email

For more news and industry insights from Tuscor Lloyds, click here. 

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