USCG won't conform with SOLAS on container weights?


#61

[QUOTE=ombugge;180604]Yes method #2 MAY work if you trust that every shipper (or Forwarders on their behalf) is honest and don’t just sign the paperwork to get their shipment on it’s way. Are they?? (I’m not just talking about US shippers here)
If you are sure of that, why have we had all the problems leading to this new requirements??[/QUOTE]

Here ombuggeee is just switching from the argument that the CG is a fault to the argument that the IMO is a fault. This is why this thread is going nowhere.

This is a professional mariners forum. I assumed that there was agreement that correct cargo weights should be provided. I don’t think that’s in dispute, or at least it shouldn’t be. That’s how ships work out stability and hull stress.


#62

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180611]Here ombuggeee is just switching from the argument that the CG is a fault to the argument that the IMO is a fault. This is why this thread is going nowhere.

This is a professial mariners fourm. I assumed that there was agreement that correct cargo weights should be provided. I don’t think that’s in dispute, or at least it shouldn’t be. That’s how ships work out stablity and hull stress.[/QUOTE]

No, it’s the CG. Everyone is in agreement that correct weights should be provided. There is evidence that they aren’t, and IMO addressed that, now making that stick and fit an actual enforced effort is the issue. The CG’s pronouncements suggest they aren’t really going to do anything, which isn’t an option.

But this thread is going nowhere. In the end, the CG as the US flag administration has to provide something like the link below to give effect to the SOLAS provisions:


#63

[QUOTE=Jamesbrown;180612]No, it’s the CG. Everyone is in agreement that correct weights should be provided. There is evidence that they aren’t, and IMO addressed that, now making that stick and fit an actual enforced effort is the issue. The CG’s pronouncements suggest they aren’t really going to do anything, which isn’t an option.

But this thread is going nowhere. In the end, the CG as the US flag administration has to provide something like the link below to give effect to the SOLAS provisions:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/436986/MGN534_Complete.pdf[/QUOTE]

Pointing out that someone’s argument is bullshit is not the same as agreeing or disagreeing with the conclusion.

With regards to the CG’s view they seem to be saying they intend to enforce the VGM requirements but not get into the nuts and bolts of how it’s done.

It’s my view that the CG is not the right agency to regulate shipping but that’s not going to change before July 1, 2016.

  1. How will the USCG enforce the SOLAS VI-2 amendments?

As the flag state authority, the USCG ensures compliance with SOLAS Reg. VI-2 aboard U.S. flag ships via domestic regulations. These existing regulations address ship strength, stability and other issues that ensure safe operation. There is also operational guidance provided to the ship’s master, as required by the company’s safety management system. This will not change when the amendments come into effect. U.S. flag ships are and will remain in compliance.

[B]As a port state authority, the USCG will continue to ensure SOLAS compliance aboard foreign-flagged ships via port state control examinations. [/B]They will not change with the implementation of the July 1 amendments.

The USCG regularly conducts inspections of containers offered for both export and import. Our inspections are mainly focused mostly on the safe transportation of hazardous materials. They are conducted under statutory authority granted by Congress and in accordance with regulations promulgated in the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations do not include the SOLAS requirements, and our container inspections under U.S. authority will not change as a result of the amendments.

  1. How can the USCG help domestic shippers and carriers to continue complying with SOLAS?

The USCG will continue working with shippers and carriers to ensure their long-standing compliance with SOLAS regulations. These FAQs intend to help all stakeholders better understand SOLAS and amendments to its regulations. [U][B][U]The USCG encourages business partners who export U.S. goods to modify existing business practices, if required, so that ships carrying U.S. exports can continue to comply with SOLAS requirements. We do not intend to issue policy guidance to industry on the implementation of the amendments, unless there is a demonstrated need to ensure SOLAS compliance. As explained, no policy guidance has been needed by U.S.-flagged ship operators.
[/U][/B][/U]


#64

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180614]Pointing out that someone’s argument is bullshit is not the same as agreeing or disagreeing with the conclusion.

With regards to the CG’s view they seem to be saying they intend to enforce the VGM requirements but not get into the nuts and bolts of how it’s done.

It’s my view that the CG is not the right agency to regulate shipping but that’s not going to change before July 1, 2016.[/quote]

So, agreement and disagreement? Those are the only options to posting here?

I’m simply pointing out that the Coast Guard can’t avoid the nuts and bolts, especially when they were involved in the design. If there are complementary existing procedures that make compliance a result of other parties or agencies actions, then the CG, as agent for things SOLAS-y, has an obligation to spell them out.


#65

[QUOTE=Jamesbrown;180619]So, agreement and disagreement? Those are the only options to posting here?

I’m simply pointing out that the Coast Guard can’t avoid the nuts and bolts, especially when they were involved in the design. If there are complementary existing procedures that make compliance a result of other parties or agencies actions, then the CG, as agent for things SOLAS-y, has an obligation to spell them out.[/QUOTE]

Pointing out that someone’s argument is bullshit, which was my intention, is not the same as agreeing or disagreeing with the conclusion, which was not my intention.

I was trying to sum up the Coast Guard’s view in this case. We are at 60 posts, time to at least know what the question is. What the CG should or should not do with regards to VGM is both literally and figuratively outside my wheelhouse.

That said I think the attention to container VGM is critical and long overdue. Hopefully this regulation will solve the problem and if not this seems to be good first step.


#66

Whatever your arguments fore an against my be, let us at least agree that that safety of seafarers, whether Americans or otherwise is paramount.
No one nation has the right to cherry pick what part of an agreed convention they want to comply with, no matter how POWERFUL you may think you are in the world. IMO is an UN institution, not for the US to manipulate as they please.


#67
 It's not prejudice against anything foreign. In fact I was just checking out the Singapore Maritime Academy website which provides a really good layout of how deck officer training is implemented there and I really like some of the way things are done. But still, trust is earned. I don't believe any nation can guarantee 100% compliance. You have to have a standard of accuracy though.

#68

[QUOTE=ombugge;180628]No one nation has the right to cherry pick what part of an agreed convention they want to comply with, no matter how POWERFUL you may think you are in the world. IMO is an UN institution, not for the US to manipulate as they please.[/QUOTE]

Why do you still feel this is the case when you’ve been shown the USCG’s method is allowed under the new rules?


#69

[QUOTE=ombugge;180628]IMO is an UN institution, not for the US to manipulate as they please.[/QUOTE]

I know that this is off topic but I hate when the UN is thrown around as the all knowing. As someone that lived and worked near the UN in NYC, I have little use for the UN and those working there.

It is well known that without the USA there would be NO UN!

Rant Off!


#70

[QUOTE=Tugs;180642]I know that this is off topic but I hate when the UN is thrown around as the all knowing. As someone that lived and worked near the UN in NYC, I have little use for the UN and those working there.

It is well known that without the USA there would be NO UN!

Rant Off![/QUOTE]

IMO has it’s HQ in London.

      • Updated - - -

[QUOTE=LI_Domer;180638]It’s not prejudice against anything foreign. In fact I was just checking out the Singapore Maritime Academy website which provides a really good layout of how deck officer training is implemented there and I really like some of the way things are done. But still, trust is earned. I don’t believe any nation can guarantee 100% compliance. You have to have a standard of accuracy though.[/QUOTE]

Maritime and Port Authorities of Singapore (MPA) handle all maritime related subjects in Singapore.
Here is a link to their web page: http://www.mpa.gov.sg/web/portal/home

PSA International is one of the major Container Terminal Operators in the world, with operations in many ports around the world: https://www.globalpsa.com/
They will have to implement the new IMO rules at their terminals soon.


#71

[QUOTE=ombugge;180663]IMO has it’s HQ in London.[/QUOTE]

Not sure where you get your information but here is what I know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headquarters_of_the_United_Nations


#72

[QUOTE=Tugs;180665]Not sure where you get your information but here is what I know.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Headquarters_of_the_United_Nations[/QUOTE]

Since we are in the wiki mode, here is one place you can find it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Maritime_Organization

More directly here: http://www.imo.org/en/Pages/Default.aspx


#73

[QUOTE=Capt. Phoenix;180641]Why do you still feel this is the case when you’ve been shown the USCG’s method is allowed under the new rules?[/QUOTE]

The SOLAS VGM rule has two parts. The signed VGM document is required by IMO and the CG says that they will enforce it same as any other requirement. It is the mandatory part the contains the two ways of determining the weight, weighing the container or weighting the contents and adding the tare weight.

The SOLAS reg also contains guidelines for port state maritime authorities in each country to use to implement the mandatory rules but the guidelines themselves are not mandatory and the CG appears to be saying they do not intend to follow the guidelines.

This is apparently where all the confusion is coming from.
To be clear I not saying I agree or disagree with the Coast Guard here.


#74

http://maritime-executive.com/blog/understanding-the-uncertainty-surrounding-container-weighing[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180669]The SOLAS VGM rule has two parts. The signed VGM document is required by IMO and the CG says that they will enforce it same as any other requirement. The SOLAS reg also contains guidelines for port state maritime authorities in each country to use to implement the mandotory rules but the guidelines themselves are not mandatory and the CG appears to be saying they do not intend to follow the guidelines.

This is apparently where all the confusion is coming from.
To be clear I not saying I agree or disagree with the Coast Guard here.[/QUOTE]

thats not precisely it. Maritime Exec has a good write up of the rule, and the confusion the coast guard introduced by apparently balking on previous stance.


#75

[QUOTE=Jamesbrown;180672]http://maritime-executive.com/blog/understanding-the-uncertainty-surrounding-container-weighing

thats not precisely it. Maritime Exec has a good write up of the rule, and the confusion the coast guard introduced by apparently balking on previous stance.

http://maritime-executive.com/blog/understanding-the-uncertainty-surrounding-container-weighing[/QUOTE]

Yes, the Coast Guard had put out some confusing, contradictory and incorrect information however as near as I can tell the actual stance is that the plan is to enforce the mandatory part but not the voluntary part unless they decide later that the industry requires more guidance.

CG FAQ 2 Mar which seeks to clarify previous remarks is here.


#76

Thomas is using Maritime Commons to provide further information, clarify yesterday’s remarks, present an FAQ on container weights and encourage continued discussion on this complex subject

Here is the FAQ:

Posted by Lt. Jodie Knox, Wednesday, March 2, 2016
[I]The U.S. Coast Guard’s assistant commandant for prevention policy, Rear Adm. Paul Thomas, recently spoke on a panel at the 16th Annual TPM Conference in Long Beach, California. The panel discussed the amendments to SOLAS Regulations that address the gross mass of containers. The conference was widely attended by leading representatives throughout the U.S. supply chain.[/I]
[B]Thomas is using Maritime Commons to provide further information, clarify yesterday’s remarks, present an FAQ on container weights and encourage continued discussion on this complex subject[/B]
[I]From the desk of Rear Adm. Paul Thomas.[/I]
Yesterday, I was honored to participate on a panel with many distinguished professionals. The topic was the upcoming SOLAS amendments regarding container weight requirements. The event provided a terrific opportunity to continue the ongoing dialogue about the important issue. In the course of the discussion, it became clear that many impacted stakeholders, particularly in the exporter community, are not familiar with SOLAS and how it applies. Similarly, in the wake of the panel, some media reports were factually correct, but lacked the background information needed to provide the context for complete understanding of this complicated issue.
In this post, I present FAQs to provide context and foster greater understanding…
[B]FAQs for Container Weight Requirements- SOLAS Reg. VI-2, as amended and effective 1 July 2016[/B]

  1. What is SOLAS?
    The International Convention for the Safety Of Life at Sea (SOLAS) is an international treaty that governs the safe operation of all ships engaged in international maritime trade. The SOLAS Convention specifies the minimum standards for the construction, equipment, and operation of merchant ships. Being signatory to SOLAS is a nation’s ticket to participation in global maritime trade via ships that fly that nation’s flag.
  2. What is the U.S. Coast Guard’s responsibility under SOLAS?
    Congress mandates that the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is the U.S. flag state authority for international maritime treaties. As such, the USCG is responsible to ensure that U.S.-flagged ships comply with SOLAS when engaged in international voyages. We do this by conducting reviews, technical assessments and inspections throughout the life cycle of the ship. We also issue certificates to show proof of compliance.
    As the U.S. port state authority, the USCG is responsible for verifying that all foreign-flagged ships comply with SOLAS when operating in U.S. waters. We do this through examinations that verify the flag state has certified full compliance with SOLAS, and we confirm by observation that the ship is operating in compliance with the flag state’s certifications.
  3. What is IMO?
    The International Maritime Organization (IMO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that develops and maintains a governing framework for international shipping, including SOLAS and other international conventions and codes dealing with the design, construction and operations of ships. The IMO has 171 member nations and three associate members. Sixty-five intergovernmental organizations (IGOs) and 77 nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been granted observer status. The IMO conducts its work through five committees and seven sub-committees staffed by delegations of the member states, associate members, IGOs and NGOs.
  4. What is the USCG’s role at IMO?
    In most cases, the USCG leads the U.S. delegation to the IMO committee and sub-committee sessions. The specific composition of the U.S. delegations will vary based on the agenda items undertaken at each session, but the delegations always include representatives of the U.S. interagency. They also often include representatives of U.S. industry associations, individual companies and the American Bureau of Shipping. The USCG holds public meetings prior to each session of IMO. We publish public notices in the Federal Register prior to all meetings, which include the proposed IMO agenda and the U.S. position on each agenda item. These notices also invite members of the public to provide input to help shape the U.S. position.
  5. How do SOLAS requirements apply to U.S. domestic shippers?
    The USCG’s flag state and port state authorities only extend to U.S. and foreign-flagged ships. The USCG has no authority over domestic shippers. Domestic shippers may be impacted by SOLAS requirements because their domestic and international business partners, who run ships, interpret their obligation to meet SOLAS requirements.
    In the case of the SOLAS Regulation VI-2 amendments regarding container weight, some carriers have determined they need to change their operational or business practices to meet the requirements of their flag states (foreign and domestic). As such, domestic shippers may be called upon to change their business practices with these international partners in the global supply chain. This is a business-to-business requirement. For the U.S., the USCG believes that carriers currently comply with SOLAS, and are therefore not requiring domestic shippers to make changes in existing practices.
  6. How will the USCG enforce the SOLAS VI-2 amendments?
    As the flag state authority, the USCG ensures compliance with SOLAS Reg. VI-2 aboard U.S. flag ships via domestic regulations. These existing regulations address ship strength, stability and other issues that ensure safe operation. There is also operational guidance provided to the ship’s master, as required by the company’s safety management system. This will not change when the amendments come into effect. U.S. flag ships are and will remain in compliance.
    As a port state authority, the USCG will continue to ensure SOLAS compliance aboard foreign-flagged ships via port state control examinations. They will not change with the implementation of the July 1 amendments.
    The USCG regularly conducts inspections of containers offered for both export and import. Our inspections are mainly focused mostly on the safe transportation of hazardous materials. They are conducted under statutory authority granted by Congress and in accordance with regulations promulgated in the Code of Federal Regulations. These regulations do not include the SOLAS requirements, and our container inspections under U.S. authority will not change as a result of the amendments.
  7. How can the USCG help domestic shippers and carriers to continue complying with SOLAS?
    The USCG will continue working with shippers and carriers to ensure their long-standing compliance with SOLAS regulations. These FAQs intend to help all stakeholders better understand SOLAS and amendments to its regulations. The USCG encourages business partners who export U.S. goods to modify existing business practices, if required, so that ships carrying U.S. exports can continue to comply with SOLAS requirements. We do not intend to issue policy guidance to industry on the implementation of the amendments, unless there is a demonstrated need to ensure SOLAS compliance. As explained, no policy guidance has been needed by U.S.-flagged ship operators.
    [B]The IMO published MSC.1/Circ 1475, titled “Guidelines Regarding The Verified Gross Mass Of A Containers Carrying Cargo”. It provides additional clarification to Regulation VI-2 (as amended) and describes some compliance strategies. These non-mandatory guidelines have formed the basis of whitepapers and other publications issued by carriers to help their shippers prepare for the amendments. It is important to note that these guidelines are not mandatory under SOLAS, and carriers are not required to meet non-mandatory SOLAS guidelines. The regulation itself provides great flexibility in how compliance can be achieve by carriers who are working with their business partners. There is no “one-size-fits-all” requirement.[/B]
  8. What is the impact of SOLAS requirements on Jones Act shipping?
    A ship that is strictly engaged in Jones Act (domestic) trade is not impacted by SOLAS because SOLAS applies only to ships engaged in international trade. This means that a Jones Act ship that also engages in international trade is required to comply with SOLAS.
  9. I heard that the IMO Guidelines are not mandatory? Is that true?
    Yes, that is true, but it is important to distinguish between a SOLAS regulation and an IMO guideline. The SOLAS regulation is mandatory for vessels to which SOLAS applies. The IMO guidelines are not mandatory.
    In this case, the IMO’s “Guidelines Regarding The Verified Gross Mass Of A Containers Carrying Cargo,” are not mandatory SOLAS requirements. IMO frequently publishes non-mandatory guidelines to assist compliance with mandatory SOLAS requirements. These guidelines are always non-mandatory; they provide recommendations for compliance, and do not preclude other approaches to compliance. All mandatory SOLAS requirements must be in the text of the regulation, not in supplemental guidelines.
    Continue the discussion here or on Twitter using #containerweight
    [B]Background[/B]: [I]Beginning July 1, 2016, all packed shipping containers must be accompanied by a shipping document that lists the verified gross mass of a container before it can be loaded onto ships operated by flag states that are party to SOLAS. The document must be signed either electronically or in hard copy and can be part of the shipping instructions to the shipping company or a separate communication.[/I]
    [I]The mandate, from the International Maritime Organization under the SOLAS convention, comes after misdeclared weights contributed to maritime incidents, such as the breakup and subsequent beaching of cargo vessels.[/I]
    [I]This blog is not a replacement or substitute for the formal posting of regulations and updates or existing processes for receiving formal feedback of the same. Links provided on this blog will direct the reader to official source documents, such as the Federal Register, Homeport and the Code of Federal Regulations. These documents remain the official source for regulatory information published by the Coast Guard.[/I]

#77

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180674]Here is the FAQ:[/QUOTE]

The maritime exec article comes after those ‘clarifying’ remarks, as do most of the postings in this thread on how the FAQ is unsatisfactory.


#78

Here are the remarks Thomas made which the CG is seeking to clarify.

This week, Admiral Thomas publicly announced that:

the IMO was the wrong place to address the container weight accuracy regulation,
SOLAS was not an appropriate legal instrument to address the issue,
notwithstanding the express language of the SOLAS regulation placing mandatory obligations on shippers, that SOLAS regulations do not apply to shippers, and that shippers were not required by the regulation to provide accurate, signed container weights to their carrier pursuant to the two methods specified in the SOLAS regulation,
that shippers were in compliance with their obligations using whatever weight information they provide today and there was no need for process changes or further regulation on this issue;
that the Coast Guard would not apply the SOLAS regulation to U.S. marine terminal operators, and
that, while vessel operators would be subject to flag state enforcement of the new regulation, he believed the industry was in compliance with what was needed for safe navigation and there should be no real problem.


#79

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;180677]Here are the remarks Thomas made which the CG is seeking to clarify.[/QUOTE]

That is language from the World Shipping Council letter to the Coast Guard seeking clarification, dated March 3rd, and comes after the Admiral FAQ of March 2.

Think about this situation like this. SOLAS requires the vessel’s flag to approve liferaft servicing stations. SOLAS additionally promulgates requirements on what an approved station does, and how it services rafts, specifications, tools, standards for such tools and calibrations and so on. So to give effect to these SOLAS provisions, the Coast Guard needs to regulate servicing shops, prescribe the standard, approve the shops. So, applied to this situation, the coast guard is simply going to assume the stations (shippers and terminals) are doing it right (despite not identifying approved methods that have force of law) and won’t audit or otherwise approve them. So the coast guard won’t approve the station or the servicing procedures, but the vessel will be required to have rafts that receive proper service by a Coast Guard approved station.


#80

[QUOTE=Jamesbrown;180672]thats not precisely it. Maritime Exec has a good write up of the rule, and the confusion the coast guard introduced by apparently balking on previous stance.http://maritime-executive.com/blog/understanding-the-uncertainty-surrounding-container-weighing[/QUOTE]Thanks for that link. However, I think the authors go far out on a limb when they say:

For now, the Coast Guard’s position appears to mean the agency itself will not act to enforce the SOLAS regulations
As much as you may be wanting more detail from the USCG I don’t think you can legitimately acuse them of saying they are NOT going to enforce SOLAS regulations. Even their poorly worded releases make it clear the regs are in effect and they expect carriers to follow them. Is not telling the shippers how to produce a valid VGM the same thing as not enforcing the regulations on the carriers to ensure they have VGM in hand prior to loading the ship?

I think with these latest posts we are now back somewhere on page 2 of this thread. But be that as it may you have not outlined exactly what would make it clear enough for you. I have read the UK guidelines (and they are listed as a Marine Guidance Note) and except for the MCA saying they will maintain a database of approved organizations that can use method 2, it seems as vague a rehash as anything else in print on this.

In the current political climate and funding realities can the USCG really develop regulations for shippers, freight forwarders, etc? No jurisdictional issues there? Do they have money or personnel resources to set out to the far flung warehouses of America wherever containers are stuffed and certify those organizations to produce VGM certs?

And before ombugge acuses me of not caring about seaman because I am asking these questions, let me say that I completely agree with the intent and purpose of new SOLAS amendments. I am truly just curious on how you think it should work. Who really has control of shippers? DOT does for road carriers. Should Department of Commerce more legitimately be into this rule making? Do they have the boots on the ground / budget to qualify VGM issuers? Then monitor them? How far do you want to go?