VGM Period of Grace Ends October 1

The three month grace period suggested by the IMO, urging authorities to adopt a ‘practical and pragmatic’ approach to SOLAS verified gross mass (VGM), officially ends on Saturday October 1.

The issue of weight discrepancies was highlighted in the U.K. MAIB report into the grounding of MSC Napoli. The theme was taken up in the MARIN ‘Lashing@Sea’ report, and in November 2014, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopted an amendment to SOLAS to require that shippers obtain the VGM of packed containers and communicate it to the ocean carrier sufficiently in advance of the ship stow planning. Shipping companies are obliged to use the VGM in the stow plan and, together with the terminal operator, ensure that any container that does not have a VGM is not loaded on a ship. The revised regulation entered effect on July 1.

It is known that certain terminals and carriers have been engaging with shippers over the three-months since July where inaccuracies are apparent. Anecdotal evidence suggests that shippers are, in the main, simply adding the tare mass of the container to the previously declared weight of the cargo to arrive at a VGM.

TT Club’s Risk Management Director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox emphasized, “There will remain a need for regulators the world over to continue their work in arriving at a uniform standard of enforcement, including consistency in the degree of latitude given to non-compliant shippers. Even now, there would be value in providing national guidance on such matters, where it has yet to be given.”

(Maritime Executive)