SOLAS Update: Ocean Carrier Group Outlines VGM Best Practices

According to American Shipper:

“The OCEMA working group published recommendations for how and when shippers should submit SOLAS container weight verification data ahead of t he July 1 implementation deadline. A group of 18 ocean carriers on Monday outlined what they consider best practices for shippers to submit container weight verification data to comply with a forthcoming amendment to the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention. The SOLAS amendment requires that shippers certify the verified gross mass (VGM) of loaded cargo containers to carriers prior to them arriving at container terminals, and is due to come into force July 1, 2016. The VGM requirement has been decried by beneficial cargo owners as onerous on U.S. exporters, and shippers and forwarders have also bemoaned a lack of clarity regarding implementation and enforcement of the rule.”

According to The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association:

Amendments to the International Convention for the SOLAS, to which the U.S. is a signatory, will go into effect globally on July 1, 2016. In general, the amendments require shippers to provide the VGM of containers carrying cargo before those containers can be loaded aboard a vessel. Without a VGM, the amendments also prohibit the vessel operator from loading a packed container. The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association (OCEMA) recognizes that all members of the shipping community will be affected by this regulation. In an effort to facilitate and simplify compliance, OCEMA has developed a best practice for the receipt and forwarding of VGM. A key objective of the best practice is to develop processes that will have as small an impact as possible on all participants. The following describes the Best Practice as it applies to the:

  • Shipper (The cargo owner, exporter, NVO, freight forwarder or agent that is making arrangements to stuff and/or transport the container.)
  • Ocean Carrier (The steamship line with which the Shipper is contracting to transport the container.)
  • Marine Terminal Operator (The operator of the facility where the container will be loaded aboard the vessel.)
  • Vessel Operator (The steamship line whose vessel is actually transporting the container. This may be the same as the Ocean Carrier or, in the case of a move conducted under a vessel sharing agreement or space charter, it could be a different steamship line.)