PROGRESS OF IMO Action
The IMO's Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargo and Containers (DSC) Sub-committee has approved proposed changes to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention that will require verification of container weights before loaded containers are placed aboard ships. The DSC report will be considered by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in May 2014 and if approved, then considered for adoption by MSC in November 2014.
Below is a summary of the past developments at the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as it works to address the problems that misdeclared cargo weights cause. A more detailed outline of this activity is available in "History of IMO Action to Improve Container Safety" produced by the World Shipping Council in August 2013.
The IMO's Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC), at its 17th session, established a Correspondence Group to develop draft amendments to SOLAS regulatation VI/2 related to mandatory verification of gross weight of containers; to develop implementing guidelines; to identify any issues that may arise; and, to submit a report to DSC for consideration at DSC 18 in September 2013. The Correspondence Group submitted its report in June 2013. DSC 18 approved proposed changes to SOLAS and submitted its report to MSC 93 for consideration in May 2014.
In June 2012, a broad array of industry stakeholders that included the governments of Denmark, The Netherlands and the United States along with a group of five maritime industry associations lead by the World Shipping Council, co-sponsored a formal proposal to the IMO to amend the SOLAS convention to require that the weight of all loaded containers be verified prior to loading onboard a vessel for export.
This proposal along with an alternative proposal submitted by Germany were considered at the IMO's Sub-committee on Dangerous Cargo (DSC) in September 2012 (DSC17). A compromise proposal was developed with widesspread support to amend the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention to require, as a condition for vessel stowage, the verified weight of loaded containers. However, three IMO Member governments, namely Cyprus, Greece and Panama, opposed the compromise proposal. Therefore, DSC 17 established a correspondence group, chaired by the U.S. and in which WSC is participating, and tasked the correspondence group with developing draft guidelines for the implementation of the compromise proposal for consideration at its next meeting (DSC 18) in September 2013.
If DSC18 reaches agreement on a proposal with supporting implementation guidelines, the IMO's Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) will be invited to approve and adopt the proposed SOLAS amendments and supporting guidelines. Depending on the terms of the adoption, the changes could take effect in 2017.
In March 2011, the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) submitted a formal proposal to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to consider issuance of a regulation making it mandatory for containers to be weighed prior to being stowed aboard ships.
WSC and ICS commended the IMO for taking action on this important issue at the May 2011 meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee (MSC 89). In that meeting MSC 89 agreed to establish a new work item to address the issue of incorrectly declared cargo shipments and to undertake other measures to improve the safety of container stowage and ship operations.
The work item to address container weighing was assigned to the IMO Sub-Committee on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers (DSC), which began consideration of this subject at its September 2011 meeting. To assist the sub-committee in its consideration of mandatory container weighing, the World Shipping Council (WSC), the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) and BIMCO, submitted a joint paper, "Development of Measures to Prevent Loss of Containers," that recommends that the Safety of Life At Sea (SOLAS) Convention be amended to require verification of containers' actual weight before stowing aboard a ship regulated by SOLAS. In December of 2011, the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) also voiced their support for these SOLAS amendments.
The World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) issued a joint statement to explain the problem with overweight containers, the efforts that have been undertaken to date to address the issue, and the reason that the industry is calling for a strong international solution to the problem from the International Maritime Organization (IMO). (December 2010) Read the statement.
Guidelines for the Safe Transport of Containers
In November of 2009, the World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) published “Safe Transport of Containers by Sea: Guidelines on Best Practices”. The Guide covers the various parts of the transport chain that have an impact on the safe movement of containers by sea and includes a distillation of the good practices that are already undertaken by a vast majority of responsible companies in the industry.