IIFA host Symposium: Verified Gross Mass of containers

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IIFA members gathered for a symposium focusing a key issue for the freight forwarding industry in 2016: Verified Gross Mass of containers through changes to the SOLAS convention. IIFA President Tom Thornton welcomed the 70+ individuals to the seminar on Thursday 25th February 2016 in Dublin including speaker Declan Black, Nautical Surveyor, Marine Survey Office, Dept. Transport, Tourism & Sport.

The audience included not only IIFA members but also representatives from shipping lines, terminal operators, exporters, and representatives of the Irish Exporters Association.

From 1st July 2016, changes to the SOLAS agreement will come into effect. IIFA members were briefed of these changes through FIATA’s Container Weight Verification toolkit, a document created by FIATA’s Multi-Modal Transport Institute and presented at the 2015 FIATA World Congress Taipei. From that point, Ship Captains must be presented with verified weights in advance of a container loading on board the vessel.

Taking the podium, Captain Declan Black addressed the audience on what to expect when the changes come into effect on 1st July 2016. Captain Black introduced the background for these changes, citing incidents such as the P&O Nedlloyd Genoa (January 2006) in which overweight containers contributed to stack overload as incorrect weights were used in formation of the stow plan. In addition, the Container ship Deneb in Algeciras (June 2011) suffered a significant stability incident. A review later found that out of the 168 containers on the load list, 16 – or roughly 1 out 10 –containers had actual weights far in excess of the declared weights.

An overview of the new requirements was given including methods to follow same and reference to enforcement within Ireland and internationally. The key item stated was that responsibility for these changes lies with the Shipper named on the Bill of Lading or Seawaybill. This means that in most cases, responsibility for declaring the correct weight will lie with the Exporter. However, in the event of consolidated shipments, responsibility will lie with Freight Forwarders/ Consolidators. This is an important issue and one that will broadly effect the wider freight, transport and distribution industry.

Commenting on the success of the seminar, IIFA President Tom Thornton said “The symposium was organized in order to inform our members of, and raise awareness about, a very important development which will have a significant impact on our customers and also port operations. I am delighted that we had such a large attendance and also that the vibrant question and answer session helped tease out some of the issues that the industry will face.”