Second-largest Russian Terminal Prepares for Container Weighing

Global Ports Investments PLC, the leading operator of container terminals in the Russian market, has completed the preparation of information systems and processes of its terminals to comply with the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) requirement of the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

First Container Terminal, part of Global Ports Holding, is the first Russian container terminal to announce a plan to provide container weighing service to help shippers meet the new amendment to the IMO’s Safety of Life at Sea convention.

The IMO requirement that enhances container weight control will be effective as of July 1, 2016 pursuant to the amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea Convention (SOLAS) and is designed to ensure safety of vessels, as well as loading and unloading operations at ports.

FCT expects the weighing of the container to obtain the VGM will take between eight and 10 minutes. Requests for cargo verification should be submitted prior to the delivery of a container to the terminal.

The terminal plans to install a second  set if scales over the next few days to avoid any delays in verification. The VGM certificate will be issued immediately in an electronic form with electronic signature. The terminal will announce the cost of the service in early June.

The FCT terminal at Big Port of St. Petersburg joins a growing group of container terminals, ranging from those in the U.S. to Asia facilities, that will help shippers meet the global rule. The charges planned for the service range from nothing to more than $100 per container.

Global Ports’ terminals are located in the Baltic and Far East Basins, key regions for foreign trade cargo flows. Global Ports operates five container terminals in Russia (Petrolesport, First Container Terminal, Ust-Luga Container Terminal and Moby Dik in the Baltics, and Vostochnaya Stevedoring Company in the Russian Far East) and two container terminals in Finland (Multi-Link Terminals Helsinki and Multi-Link Terminals Kotka). Global Ports also owns inland container terminals Yanino Logistics Park and Logistika-Terminal, both located in the vicinity of St. Petersburg, and has a 50% stake in the major oil product terminal AS Vopak E.O.S. in Estonia.

Need help with shipments to Russia –  or any other country?  RCL has extensive experience shipping throughout the world – contact us today for assistance with your shipping needs!

New SOLAS Verified Gross Mass Rules Effective July 2016 -Top Five Things You Need to Know

You may have heard that effective July 1st, the International Maritime Organization has amended the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention, and new rules will be in effect for reporting of verified gross mass (VGM) of containers. To help you prepare, here are 5 things you should know:


Before a packed container can be loaded onto a ship, its verified gross mass must be determined through weighing; currently there is no exception to this requirement.


Method 1: Weighing/scaling the fully loaded container using calibrated and certified equipment; or

Method 2: Weighing all packages and cargo, including pallets, dunnage and any securing material to be used in loading the container and adding those weights to the tare weight shown on the container’s exterior.


  • Accuracy is currently the only concept with which the shipper needs to be concerned – this is a physical weighing requirement and estimating of weights is not permitted
  • All equipment used must meet the accuracy standards and requirements of the State in which the equipment is being used.
  • The only exception is “Individual, original packages that have the accurate mass of the packages and cargo items (including any other material such as packing material and refrigerants inside the package) clearly and permanently marked on the surface, do not need to be weighed again when they are packed in the container. A good example is a flat screen TV that has their weight (e.g. X kg) marked by the manufacturer on the box”.
  • SOLAS requirements will apply to both FCL and LCL shipments.


 It is currently a violation of SOLAS to load a packed container aboard a vessel to which SOLAS applies without a proper weight verification. There is currently no exception to this requirement. In the absence of a shipper providing a verified gross mass of a packed container, that container “shall not be loaded on the ship”. Shippers should obtain information on documentary cutoff times from their carrier in advance of the shipment.


  • RCL can assist with recommendations of Certified Scale Companies in your area
  • RCL can review your submitted documentation and communicate to your nominated personnel SOLAS requirements to ensure the Verified Gross Mass and appropriate signatures are included. Thus, avoiding rejection of the container upon arrival at the port for non-compliance of SOLAS
  • RCL can investigate opportunities to scale your container at the receiving port. If service is available, RCL can implement the process on your behalf.


Shipper’s weight verification is compliant with the SOLAS requirement when it is “signed”, meaning by a specific person representing the shipper and is named and identified as having verified the accuracy of the weight calculation on behalf of the shipper. The shipping document shall be (1) signed by a person duly authorized by the shipper and (2) submitted to the master or his representative.


  • RCL can submit your signed documentation in a timely manner as required avoiding possible rejection of container loading under the new SOLAS requirement.
  • RCL can capture the VGM data you provide and present it varying reporting processes to assist management in quarterly / year end analysis and compliance.
  • RCL’s seasoned staff is cross-trained to communicate and educate; first and often with our clientele.


Nationally legislated enforcement agencies may implement measures to check compliance, such as documentation checks, auditing, or random weighing. Enforcement policies may require shippers using method 1 to produce weight tickets or other documentation upon request. Fines and other penalties could be imposed under national legislation. Penalties could include repacking costs, administrative fees, demurrage and delays or cancellations of shipments. If the shipper has not provided a VGM, the vessel master should not load the container, and additional costs such as pier demurrage, roll fees etc. could occur. The new SOLAS requirements apply equally to both under and overweight containers.


Since the shipper is legally responsible to obtain and provide the verified gross mass, it may be expected that any third party service provided would seek re-reimbursement of the cost of weighing; this is Commercial issue and will be a matter to be determined by the parties involved.


As with any new regulations, we can expect there to be further updates and amendments to SOLAS as we approach the effective date and thereafter- be assured that RCL will continue to monitor implementation of this new SOLAS amendment as it evolves. With over 30 years experience in International Transportation, you can count on RCL Agencies to guide and assist with all your transportation needs while providing the right solutions at the right time!



SOLAS Weight Certification Requirements

As we reported earlier this year, the SOLAS Container Weight Verification Requirements go into effect on July 1, 2016. At that time, the shipper listed on the carrier’s master bill of lading will be required to provide the vessel operator with a certified gross weight sufficiently in advance of vessel loading so it can be used in the preparation of the ship’s stowage plan. This means that NVOCCs will be responsible for providing that certified weight to the carriers when they are the shipper on the master bill of lading.  Each of the 170 countries that are signatories to SOLAS will be tasked with ensuring the gross mass of containers is verified, without which the boxes can legally not be loaded on board a ship.

In order to provide some additional guidance on this issue, the World Shipping Council – acting in conjunction with several other international organizations – has just issued a document entitled Verified Gross Mass Industry FAQs. This document,  raises and then answers some of the questions that you may have had.

The FAQs discusses the following issues, such as:

  • The FAQs make it clear that the shipper is to use a scale calibrated in accordance with state regulations. If that is done correctly, the shipper need not be concerned that the actual weight at some point may vary, as they can safely assume that the certified weight provided to the carrier will fall within whatever government enforcement tolerances may be in effect.
  •  The FAQs reiterate that all shipments must be the result of reliable, certified weights, and there is to be no estimating.
  • In determining the tare weight of the container, shippers can and should rely on the weight printed on the container and not be concerned about the condition or age of the box.
  • An NVOCC can properly rely on the certified weight provided by the underlying customer, although it would be then be necessary to add its own signature to that certification since the NVOCC is the shipper on the Master Bill of Lading.

The full document can be reviewed here . If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us at 973-779-5900