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LONDON: June 08, 2016. According to The International Cargo Handling Coordination Association (ICHCA), less than 15 percent of 162 International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Member States have given shippers and operators in their jurisdiction guidelines for verifying the gross mass of containers (VGM) that becomes mandatory on July 01.

At a meeting in Antwerp last week Mike Yarwood, Claims manager for insurance specialist TT Club commented: “The recent IMO circular is rightly good news for those that are taking appropriate steps to prepare for July. It is not – and should not be considered in any way – a panacea for the unprepared.

SOLAS CMA CGM“Sympathetic enforcement for a limited period allowing for cargo already in the supply chain and resolution of teething problems in no way steps away from the safety objectives of these VGM amendments,” he declared. 

TT Club notes there was extensive stakeholder and international consultation leading to IMO’s adoption of the VGM amendments to SOLAS in November 2014.

Also speaking in Antwerp ICHCA Technical advisor Captain Richard Brough said: “As July 01 approaches we see an increasing number of terminal operators announcing the service options they will offer to shippers to facilitate determining the VGM of export containers. Lifting equipment suppliers, carriers, forwarders and, with a few exceptions, shipper representatives have all engaged positively in order to identify the most appropriate way to comply, whether by Method 1 or Method 2. 

“Sadly, where compliance is a shared responsibility, communication between all the different parties has too often been acrimonious rather than collaborative. As a result – a month out – contingency planning is now crucial for all stakeholders, to avoid a potentially disastrous impact on container supply chains.”

ICHCA, TT Club, the World Shipping Council and the Global Shippers Forum will shortly issue a document: ‘Verified Gross Mass – Supplementary Industry FAQs’.

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