Ocean Carriers Urged to Accept Path to VGM Compliance

Image Courtesy: Northwest Seaport Alliance

With the upcoming implementation date for new container weighing requirements, the time has come for ocean carriers to embrace the obvious solution to achieving compliance that Marine Terminal Operators can offer, according to the Chairman of the US Federal Maritime Commission, Mario Cordero.

Specifically, Cordero asserted the weight of export containers, as determined by terminal operators, can and should be classified as the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the container.

“There is a course to SOLAS VGM compliance provided by the Coast Guard that is not only not burdensome, it requires no additional action at all. Why anyone would add procedures, requirements and costs to doing business is not only puzzling, it raises the specter of anticompetitive behavior and necessitating Commission action,” said Cordero.

“Using the weight taken at the terminal gate for the purposes of satisfying the need for a verified weight of a container is a simple and efficient solution for assuring the continued smooth flow of export cargoes.”

He insisted carriers should not only accept weights determined by terminal operators for complying with the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) amendment that mandates providing verified container weights, but the shipping lines should also streamline the transmission of the information.

Cordero said that with the SOLAS VGM implementation date looming, uncertainty remains as to what will be expected of shippers, especially following US Coast Guard’s announcement that the “existing U.S. laws and regulations for providing verified container weights are equivalent to the requirements in SOLAS Regulation VI/2.”

“While I certainly applaud efforts to make the maritime transportation of cargo safer, I am increasingly struggling to fathom why the ocean carrier community has not fully embraced the equivalency declaration as a way to demonstrate flexibility and sensitivity to our U.S.-export shippers,” Cordero said.

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