Felixstowe willing to offer container weighing

2016-06-05

The Port of Felixstowe has confirmed that it will offer a container weighing service to make sure UK shippers are able to meet with the new SOLAS regulations that come into effect on 1 July 2016

The new SOLAS Chapter VI regulation requiring the shipper (or other named party in the Bill of Lading - normally a freight forwarder/NVOCC) - to supply the shipping line with a verified gross mass (VGM) declaration before the container can be loaded aboard the ship comes into force on the 1st of July. As widely reported, there is widespread concern that shippers will not be ready. Commenting on the new service that Felixstowe will provide, Stephen Abraham, the port's COO, said: “We have met with many customers and from their feedback it is clear that there is still a lot of uncertainty amongst exporters about the new rules. “The rules have the potential to cause significant disruption to export supply chains. To help avoid this, we have decided to provide a service where export containers can be weighed at the port before being loaded. We will provide further details about how the weighing service will work in good time to ensure all exporters can be compliant by the time the new rules come into force.” The service at the port will be available to containers arriving either by road or rail. This is important as, through its railheads, Felixstowe is the UK’s largest intermodal rail terminal; 40% of all laden export containers arrive at the port by rail. To provide the weighing service, Felixstowe will use a spreader twistlock-based system, although the supplier of the system and the number of RTG and intermodal RMG spreaders that will be equipped with it has not been confirmed. As previously reported by WorldCargo News, the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), which is the responsible authority for the VGM as regards UK containerised export shipments, requires all weighing equipment used to provide a VGM, whether by Method 1 or Method 2, to be calibrated to within +/- 0.1% of the true mass of the loaded container (Method 1) or by calcuation based on the sum weights of the individual cargo items being packed and associated dunnage, lashing chains, etc (Method 2). When, at the end of 2010, the International Chamber of Shipping first launched its campaign for all containers to be weighed before ocean carriage, it was assumed that the weighing would take place in ports - naturally, as ports are where most container lifting equipment is based. However, port operators - including, and not least, Felixstowe - successfully resisted this, which ultimately resulted in IMO formulating Method 2. While the road to IMO arriving at Method 1 and Method 2 is "history," the key point is that port operators, freed of a legal obligation to weigh loaded export containers, are thereby free to offer a Method 1 weighing service on a commercial basis.