Admiral Paul Thomas of the U.S. Coast Guard stated that U.S. exporters and ocean carriers loading their cargoes at U.S. ports have been compliant with the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS) convention and will not require domestic shippers to make changes in existing practices. The Agricultural Transport Coalition (AgTC) welcomed the comments and noted they are consistent with the position being taken by other countries.
The Admiral stated that the SOLAS Container Weight Certification Amendment provides flexibility pertaining to various ways carriers can get verified gross mass, and how they do so is a "business practice." Current practice is for shipper/exporter to provide accurate gross weight of its cargo- but not the container which is controlled, maintained, owned/leased by the ocean carrier.
The Admiral has expanded upon his position, and provides a useful background on SOLAS and the container weight issue, on the U.S. Coast Guard's Maritime Commons blog. To read the Admiral’s blog, click here.
Editors Insight: Admiral Thomas has brought some clarity to the International Maritime Commission’s SOLAS container weight documentation rule, which concerned many exporters. The Admiral states in his blog that U.S. carriers currently comply with SOLAS, and the Coast Guard is therefore not requiring domestic shippers to make changes in existing practices. The Coast Guard will continue to ensure SOLAS compliance aboard foreign-flagged ships via port state control examinations. Thomas also stated that the IMO’s “Guidelines Regarding The Verified Gross Mass Of A Containers Carrying Cargo,” are not mandatory SOLAS requirements.
Admiral Thomas brought some welcome relief to agricultural shippers who have been working hard for a cooperative relationship with governing authorities. 3-4-16 By Elliot Maras