Container Weighing Plan Gets Major Boost

The decision by the International Association of Ports and Harbors earlier this month to back requiring that the weight of loaded export containers be verified before the vessel is loaded means both ports and carriers endorse it.

Four organizations -- the International Association of Ports and Harbors, the World Shipping Council, the International Chamber of Shipping, and BIMCO (a large international association representing ship owners) -– now are encouraging the International Maritime Organization to require verification of the weight of loaded shipping containers before they are placed aboard a ship for export. Both the ship and the port facility would have the data. This change would be accomplished by amending the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS).

IAPH became the latest organization to endorse this, on Dec. 12. The four organizations have consultative status at the IMO. IMO's Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers subcommittee, which is responsible for improving the safety of container stowage and ship operations, is working on the SOLAS requirement and will consider it at its next session in September 2012.

"Weighing containers to confirm their actual weight is the right operational and safety practice. There is substantial experience with such a requirement in the United States demonstrating that this is feasible on a technological and commercial basis. It is time to make this a global safety practice, and our association will assist its members in cooperating with terminal operators to develop a suitable and effective process," said Dr. Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH and executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

"We very much welcome and appreciate IAPH's support of this initiative. The tide is clearly running in support of this most important enhancement to maritime safety," said Peter Hinchliffe, secretary general of the International Chamber of Shipping.

"Shippers today are legally obligated to provide accurate weights of containers after they have stuffed them with cargo, but there are many instances where their weight declarations are erroneous. An accident involving an incorrect container weight declaration can create potential liabilities for the shipper and others handling the container. Having verified weights of loaded containers will reduce errors and risk and will eliminate the guesswork from the business for all parties involved," said Christopher Koch, president of the World Shipping Council.

IAPH represents about 230 ports worldwide that handle nearly 80 percent of the world's container traffic. Visit www.iaphworldports.org for information.

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