Below are 2 new conventions and amendments which are expected to enter into force from 1st July 2016.
Amendments to SOLAS chapter VI. This was long pending issue and considered major cause of instability on container ship; or even severe accidents.
Wrong declaration of cargo weight in container is very common, which helps shipper to save some freight cost, however if 1000’s of containers has wrong weight then one can imagine what will be the cumulative effect on ship’s stability. Master calculates ship’s stability as per documents provided by planner, planner has documents from shipper and at present there is no verification method in place to get the correct weight (Maximum gross weight is 32480kg) of each container whether it is 20′, 40′ or 45′ normal or high cube.
So this amendment will require mandatory verification of the gross mass of each containers. There are few possible methods, either by weighing the packed container fully, or all packages to be weighed at the time of stuffing. Now a competent authority must verify the cargo weight. at the time of packing the container.
Weighing containers at the time of loading at terminal is another verification where each container will be weighed during loading on board. This facility is not provided on all ports and needs huge investments to modify all cranes.
As per SOLAS amendments, shippers can use either of the two methods to determine the container weight. first method is to weight the container once it has been packed. Another method is to find gross weight by adding weight of cargo, packing and tare weight of container. Method 1 is more trusted and needs certifying companies to verify the weight with calibrated and certified load test equipment.
From 1st July 2016, as per SOLAS regulation, Verified Gross Mass (VGM) certificate has to be provided by all shippers, without which cargo cannot be loaded on board.
There are many companies providing these certifications at the various ports one of them in Australia is Weightacontainer.
Amendments to add a new SOLAS regulation XI-1/7 on Atmosphere testing instrument for enclosed spaces, to require ships to carry an appropriate portable atmosphere testing instrument, it should be capable of measuring concentrations of oxygen, flammable gases or vapours, hydrogen sulphide and carbon monoxide, prior to entry into enclosed spaces.