The Port of Savannah will continue to weigh export containers and provide the verified gross mass (VGM) data to ocean carriers to help shippers comply with international maritime safety rules that go into effect July 1.
The Georgia Ports Authority made the announcement Thursday following the U.S. Coast Guard’s statement last week
reiterating that existing federal and state laws requiring customers to provide carriers with the weight of their shipments are acceptable for complying with the amended Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention.
Member states of the International Maritime Organization changed SOLAS to require shippers to provide vessel operators with the verified container weight in response to claims that overweight containers have contributed to accidents at terminals and at sea. Shippers can either have the loaded container weighed on a scale or separately weigh the contents and dunnage, and add the figures to the tare weight stenciled on the side of the box by the carrier. A company representative must sign the shipping document attesting to the accuracy of the weight.
The added bureaucracy associated with the rule has many shippers up in arms because certified third party scales may not be available or will charge an extra fee, and cargo owners fear that accepting the tare weight at face value could open them up to liability if the weight is later found to be inaccurate.
The Coast Guard statement indicated that the current practice of weight containers at terminal gates delivers equivalent data to that compiled by the shipper.
The GPA said it weighs containers at no cost to ocean carriers.
Savannah joins the ports of Baltimore and Charleston as the only ones so far that have publicly stated they will offering weighing services to help shippers comply with the IMO's verified gross mass requirements.
The South Carolina Ports Authority says it too weighs export containers and will provide the measurements to shippers upon request. And Ports America, the private terminal operator at Baltimore’s Seagirt Terminal, said late last month that it will accept ocean boxes and weigh them for an undisclosed fee, or allow the boxes to be picked up and taken to an offsite scale to be weighed.