SOLAS Solution for Rail Cargo Still in Progress

In accordance with the SOLAS ruling effective July 1, 2016 ,every container loaded on a seafaring vessel must be accompanied by documentation of its VGM, according to the International Maritime Organization’s Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, convention.

At this moment, decision will be up to the individual container lines and could very well vary carrier by carrier. Many marine terminals and ports now say they will use pre-existing weighing processes to produce the needed verified gross mass, or VGM, declaration for containers. But it’s unclear how boxes moving to the port via on-dock intermodal rail ramps will be weighed,  the Journal of Commerce reports.

In its updated best practices guidelines, a group representing the 19 largest container lines acknowledged that some terminal operators do not have the scales or processes to obtain container weights for cargo arriving by on-dock rail. The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association said shippers will be relegated to providing the container weight for that cargo themselves — unless their carriers directs otherwise.

While terminal operators and operating ports in the U.S. are already required to weigh container arriving at their gates by truck in order to comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration guidelines, that process for cargo arriving by rail is not the same.

According to OCEMA’s announcement itself, shippers may be given more detailed instructions on how to obtain and transmit VGM for cargo that arrives at a terminal via on-dock rail.

Moreover, according to OCEMA member Maersk Line, OCEMA carriers are working with the group to identify a more permanent approach as streamlined as the best practices for in-gated cargo.

If you have any questions regarding the SOLAS regulations, please contact  RCL Agencies at 973-779-5900.