When the containership Deneb capsized at dockside in the port of Algeciras last June, an investigation found 16 of the 168 containers on the load list had actual weights far in excess of declared weights — from 1.9 to 6.7 times above their declared weights.
Incidents like this prompted the International Association of Ports and Harbors to join with several groups representing shipowners to call for new regulations to prevent overweight containers from being loaded on ships.
IAPH joined with the World Shipping Council, International Chamber of Shipping, and BIMCO in asking the International Maritime Organization to amend the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) to require, as a condition for stowing a loaded container on board a ship, that the ship and port facility have a verified actual weight of the container.
IMO’s Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers subcommittee, which is responsible for improving the safety of container stowage and ship operations, will consider such a rule when it meets
“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,” said Geraldine Knatz, president of IAPH and executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “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.”
IAPH membership includes 230 ports in about 90 countries. They handle 80 percent of the world’s container traffic.
Overweight containers are an issue that unites both terminal employers and their workers. Harold Daggett, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, highlighted the problem of overweight boxes last summer as he took office. Not only do they pose a safety hazard, he noted, but they also cheat the union out of royalties based on container weights.
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