SOLAS Update: USCG Says Existing Laws Are Equivalent to New Requirements

May 9, 2016

The US Coast Guard (USCG) has declared that the existing laws and regulations for verifying container weight are equivalent to the new Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requirements taking effect globally on July 1, 2016.

The USCG recently sent a letter to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) declaring that current federal and state laws allow for flexibility in how container weights are determined and verified and that the USCG’s “current regulatory regime provides for other entities within the container export chain to work in combination with the shipper.”

The USCG said in its announcement that the “equivalency acknowledges the dynamic and flexible business relationship between the entities in the export chain, and it provides flexibility for these entities to reach arrangements in order to ensure compliance.”

The USCG says it will continue to verify that ships’ masters receive the verified gross mass (VGM) of containers in order to ensure that ships are loaded safely and operate within their structural and stability safety limitations.

The USCG added that there will be no penalties involved in enforcing the SOLAS requirement, but containers without the proper VGM documentation will not be loaded onto ships until the VGM can be determined, and ships will leave on time with or without the containers in question.

AAEI has created a webpage devoted to information about the SOLAS requirement, and the AAEI Export Compliance and Facilitation Committee has formed a work group to work on the issue and help inform the exporting community. The work group also is working on setting up a webinar for AAEI members on SOLAS.