USCG won't conform with SOLAS on container weights?


#1

WTF is this? Why do I have to feel left out in the cold by my own government and port state agency? Why doesn’t this shine like a bright star as a logical advance in international trade and marine safety?

I have personally sat through port state inspections in other countries where I was told, frankly, that they were going to focus the microscope in a certain direction because my flag state was not signatory to a certain IMO policy. This USCG policy seems like it will only exacerbate this issue in conjunction with not doing a damn thing to increase the safety of our ship’s stability.

Is it too much to ask the checkers union to weigh every box and give us an accurate weight for stability calculations?


#2

just more evidence that the USCG is squarely in the pocket of Joe Boss


#3

If any other country refuse to follow US laws or directives it is hell to pay. And I’m not talking only shipping.


#4

I believe the USCG is way off on this. Recently I was on a ship that had to offload containers because it was overdraft. The master said that they had over 1500 tons of undeclared cargo weight. There have been quite of few disasters over the year where overweight boxes were part of the issue. What is fealty so hard to weight the container after loading or the other way of calculating the cargo in the box. If you are cheating the system by understating the weight doom on you.


#5

I find it hard to believe that the Cranes do not have or can not supply a “Real” weight number on each and every lift they do. After all of the Crane accidents in the past every crane that I have ever seen has had this built into it. Plus most if not all trucks are weighed to make sure they are not overweight.

So with that said, there must be some reason that they still have such a problem supplying these weights to the ship.


#6

[QUOTE=Pilot;180450]I believe the USCG is way off on this. Recently I was on a ship that had to offload containers because it was overdraft. The master said that they had over 1500 tons of undeclared cargo weight [/QUOTE]

Sounds like sleeve oil to me.


#7

[QUOTE=Chief Seadog;180453]Sounds like sleeve oil to me.[/QUOTE]

SOP to check drafts on arrival and at departure.


#8

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180454]SOP to check drafts on arrival and at departure.[/QUOTE]

K.C., I’m not clear what you’re saying–are you saying as long as safe drafts aren’t exceeded it’s no issue? Containers are subject to stacking, racking and acceleration forces, and in the absence of full and proper information, it can introduce serious hazard even if the loadline isn’t submerged–which is the point of the new SOLAS regulation.

The Coast Guard appears to suggest that the existing requirements for “ship strength, stability and other issues” addresses the overall issue–translation, “as long as the loadline isn’t submerged it’s supposed to be OK, right?”, much like your comment. It isn’t necessarily ‘safe’. In your own career, perhaps you have encountered a situation with cars or construction equipment with mistaken gross vehicle weights placed on movable decks of your PCTC with the possibility that an overload of some deck safe weight rating may have been impacted–would you think that’s safe even if the drafts were acceptable?

Possible failures of containers popping other containers due to overloading or crushing the stack will not necessarily cause a vessel to exceed its mark–if the vessel was compliant to safe loadline before, the resultant mess will also be compliant. But that doesn’t mean it’s safe to have containers crush the stack or fail due to acceleration forces due to failures with documentation of actual weights, or container loading software failing to account for containers with lower stack weight ratings.

Especially when hazardous materials may be involved:

https://www.gov.uk/maib-reports/collapse-of-cargo-containers-during-heavy-weather-on-container-vessel-annabella-in-the-baltic-sea-near-gotland-island-sweden#summary

-This is not necessarily an example of how lack of verified weights led to a problem, but it just as well could be and provides an example of what can wrong with container stowage in absence of the computers getting it right and the computers only have the info they receive, garbage in, garbage out. There’s a reason the IMO took the action, one assumes the US voted for it, since it would otherwise have been obliged to vote against it.


#9

[QUOTE=Jamesbrown;180455]K.C., I’m not clear what you’re saying–are you saying as long as safe drafts aren’t exceeded it’s no issue? Containers are subject to stacking, racking and acceleration forces, and in the absence of full and proper information, it can introduce serious hazard even if the loadline isn’t submerged–which is the point of the new SOLAS regulation.

The Coast Guard appears to suggest that the existing requirements for “ship strength, stability and other issues” addresses the overall issue–translation, “as long as the loadline isn’t submerged it’s supposed to be OK, right?”, much like your comment. It isn’t necessarily ‘safe’. In your own career, perhaps you have encountered a situation with cars or construction equipment with mistaken gross vehicle weights placed on movable decks of your PCTC with the possibility that an overload of some deck safe weight rating may have been impacted–would you think that’s safe even if the drafts were acceptable?
[/QUOTE]

This is a good post JB but I was just responding to C. Seadogs remark that it might have been sleeve oil. If that was the case the arrival drafts would have been off. Arrival weight + change of weight in port = departure weight.


#10

[QUOTE=Tugs;180451]I find it hard to believe that the Cranes do not have or can not supply a “Real” weight number on each and every lift they do. After all of the Crane accidents in the past every crane that I have ever seen has had this built into it. Plus most if not all trucks are weighed to make sure they are not overweight.

So with that said, there must be some reason that they still have such a problem supplying these weights to the ship.[/QUOTE]

Yes the cranes have weight cells, but that is not the point. If the declared weight on the manifest is inaccurate, one way or the other, the planning and stability calculations carried out by shore staff will be wrong. It is just as bad to have under weight containers below deck as to have over weight ones above.
When the containers are already loaded and the actual weight is available from the cranes it is a bit late. To then start to remove containers that has inaccurate declared weight may be almost impossible, given that they may not be on the top tire.

[B]If the US is unable to handle the IMO requirements they should withdraw from IMO, if not from world trade.[/B]


#11

Just another example of why a military agency with very high staff turnover that is focused on Homeland Security and drug interdiction, with little shipping expertise, should not be entrusted with regulating shipping.


#12

[QUOTE=ombugge;180461]When the containers are already loaded and the actual weight is available from the cranes it is a bit late. To then start to remove containers that has inaccurate declared weight may be almost impossible, given that they may not be on the top tire.[/QUOTE]

With all the technology we have today, why would the weight not be known before loading? If not already in place, could RFIDs be installed on each container and scanned at port entry by land or sea?

The scanned containers get weighed by a truck scale, or crane, and are automatically entered into a computer system that is relayed in real-time to the respective ships bridge, into a stability management program.


#13

[QUOTE=tugsailor;180462]Just another example of why a military agency with very high staff turnover that is focused on Homeland Security and drug interdiction, with little shipping expertise, should not be entrusted with regulating shipping.[/QUOTE]

AWO should step in here. They’ve already manipulated all domestic inspection and safety policy, let’s just let them take over international policy, too.


#14

The USA decides to ignore another international convention they agreed too? USCG is told what to do by lobbyists and their employees, congress? Foxes minding chickens? Nothing to see here, move along.
Paying $500,000 to families of dead sailors once in awhile is cheaper than obeying international laws. We must remember that the life style and financial well being of a agriculture/commerce CEO, hedge fund, bond holder or stock holder greatly outranks that the life of expendable peons like mariners. If US mariners won’t sail ships with unknown weights they’ll get some starving bastard from another country to transport your goods. Just be glad you live in the greatest and most powerful country in the world and be quiet or you’ll lose your job. Thank God the USCG is protecting the interest of those that make America great.


#15

[QUOTE=ombugge;180461]
[B]If the US is unable to handle the IMO requirements they should withdraw from IMO, if not from world trade.[/B][/QUOTE]

Jeeze slow your roll. Just a little research would show you that the answer to the question posed by the title of this thread is in the negative. That is they will conform. They have no choice. What they wont do is make any new regulations beyond what is already on the books and they wont become container weighing police.

After a FMC public meeting with shipper groups the following was stated:

The USCG Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, heard all the issues and questions. At the conclusion of the FMC meeting, he stated the following USCG positions and observations:

Delayed implementation is not an option. SOLAS is an international convention ratified by the U.S. and most major flag states that applies to vessels, not ports or shippers. Most vessels loading in the U.S. are foreign-flag ships from IMO signatory countries. Those countries will implement the VGM requirement as to their vessels, and the U.S. has no say in that.

USCG will not impose fines under SOLAS with respect to inaccurate weight certificates because USCG does not believe it has any enforcement authority to do so.

USCG does not plan to adopt or publish any allowable error variance.

Regarding enforcement, USCG observes that a container without a compliant VGM certificate will be subject to a hold order and can’t be loaded, but there will be no fines. Once the container is weighed or the shipper provides a certificate, the container can be loaded.

The ultimate message from USCG is that the shipping industry must find business solutions. USCG is not convinced it needs to or has any jurisdiction to take any steps, but will continue to listen and facilitate such solutions if possible.

The carriers don’t seem to anticipate any major problems getting VGM certificates from shippers. This requirement falls on the carriers operating under the broad SOLAS umbrella of rules and regs. If shippers don’t want to certify the weight and sign it sounds like the USCG expects the carriers to not load it until it is weighed at the terminal. Presumably these people (shippers, carriers, terminals) have thought through some of this already since the implementation date was not a surprise.

If you think there won’t be growing pains with this in all the rest of the world too your kidding yourself.

You all may be jumping the gun here.

Some background/info

http://www.worldshipping.org/industry-issues/safety/WSC_Summarizes_the_Basic_Elements_of_the_SOLAS_Container_Weight_Verification_Requirement___February_2015.pdf

https://www.hklaw.com/Publications/US-Coast-Guard-Comments-on-SOLAS-Verified-Gross-Mass-Rule-Implementation-02-19-2016/


#16

I’m glad someone actually looked it up and has good reading comprehension skills. The USCG doesn’t need to fine anyone to make this work as I expect the cost to certify the weight at the terminal at the last minute will be prohibitively high. On top of that the terminals will probably charge the shipper a storage fee for containers that are refused by the ship. Capitalism has efficient ways to work out these kinds of problems.


#17

The USCG should stop trying to clarify its policies. All it does is create more confusion.


#18

Carriers don’t want to be gypped out of money either, assuming weight factors into what they charge anyways? They lose financially if they’re shipping boxes that are heavier than paid for.

Yes, brilliant, remove the US from container trade centering around FOC ships. We will just scrap the empty containers once they have been unloaded here as “we don’t export ANYTHING” say the critics. We can’t send those boxes back to sea since we refuse to weigh them. /sarcasm


#19

I’m not up to date on what exports are being shipped. As I recall, a few years ago scrap paper was our largest containerized export.


#20

[QUOTE=z-drive;180474]Yes, brilliant, remove the US from container trade centering around FOC ships. We will just scrap the empty containers once they have been unloaded here as “we don’t export ANYTHING” say the critics. We can’t send those boxes back to sea since we refuse to weigh them. /sarcasm[/QUOTE]

No one said we’re not going to weigh them, just that the USCG isn’t getting involved. The shippers know it’s required and if they choose to ignore that then their container might legally be refused by the ship. They’ll then either need to pay 5x the normal rate for a last minute weight certification or their shipment will sit in the dock. He’ll, they might even still be required to pay for carriage on the ship even though the container was left on the dock. The terminal will also probably charge a fee for the container to sit there for who knows how long, and the clients at the other end will be pissed.

That’s all much more of a deterrent that a fine by the USCG.