IMO container Verified Gross Mass requirement mandatory since July

Excerpt from: Maritime News | By: Svilen Petrov | March 8, 2016

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IMO confirmed once again that there is no delay and no deadline extension of Verified Gross Mass requirement for containers, despite of unavailability of many ports and countries to prepare the needed equipment for rule implementation. IMO signatory countries are not actually able to decide their own extensions.

The Verified Gross Mass requirement for container shipping becomes mandatory on July 1 this year, after 1 year discussion and 6 months period for implementation and comes into effect. IMO denied all the requests for extension of the period of iomplementation and arguing that all the procedures of organization were met.

We are not considering extending the deadline for compliance with the Verified Gross Mass requirement”, said Senior Director of Marine Technology and Cargoes, Maritime Safety Division at IMO, Joseph Westwood-Booth, speaking at ICHCA conference in Barcelona. “However, we are planning to issue further guidance on these points in the coming weeks”, added he.

Verified Gross Mass, which is also known as container weights, states that effective since July 1, 2016, any shipping container leaving from any port in the world must be accompanied by a shipping document signed either electronically or in hard copy by the shipper on the bill of lading listing the verified gross mass of a container in order to be loaded onto a ship.

The weighing must be done in one of two approved ways, called Method 1 and Method 2, on scales calibrated and certified to the national standards of the country where the weighing was performed.

Some shippers expect that this new requirement will cause chaos in supply chain disruption, as well as unavailability of many ports and countries to prepare the needed equipment for rule implementation.

Moreover, with only 120 days until the requirement takes effect only a handful of countries have actually developed regulatory standards. UK Maritime Coast Guard Agency is at the final stages for approval of the new rules, which are set accuracy tolerances of +/- 300 kg in weight up to 15 tons, +/- 400 kf in weight up to 20 t and +/- 2% on weight above 20 tons. Many of the experts hope that such requirements will also be adopted by European Union, as lower accuracy standards are impossible to meet.

The mess with tolerances is one of the opponents main points, as each country can select its own regulation standards. New Zealand however said to be have decided on a tolerance of 0.5%. So, as this point ICHCA and IMO are planning to issue further guidance in the coming weeks.

However, a lot of experts estimate that 80% of containers arriving at container terminals on July 1 will not have a Verified Gross Mass, due to unavailability of the terminals to measure the container weights.

Some terminals are planning yo adopt using of reachstacker next to a weighbridge, which will lift containers above a trailer momentarily, measuring weight. In this case the truck and trailer or two TEU can be weighed individually.

Despite of many unclear circumstances around Verified Gross Mass requirement, IMO is not considering to delay its implementation. Such standard is needed for increasing safety at sea and better calculation of container ship’s stability, question which is getting more important after entering in service of newest generation ULCS.