CHARLESTON, SC - The South Carolina Ports Authority filed a rule in its Marine Terminal Operating Schedule (MTOS) outlining its process for adherence to the IMO regulations regarding Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Regulation VI/2. This approach is consistent with the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Information Safety Bulletin dated April 28, 2016 on this topic,which outlined that existing procedures to comply with U.S. terminal safety regulations could be used to comply with this important regulation.This provision allows the Port of Charleston to provide VGM data directly to ocean carriers via EDI 322 messages as today and provides that shippers using the Port of Charleston authorize this practice, unless they make other arrangements with their ocean carrier.
All export containers will be weighed on calibrated and certified truck scales upon arrival at the Port of Charleston.The weight of the truck tractor, chassis,and other ancillary equipment such as gen sets will be subtracted from the gross weight, yielding the gross weight of the container and cargo.This gross weight will be provided to the respective ocean carrier as the VGM via EDI 322 message,and will be made available to the stevedores stowing cargo in the port on a real time basis, so that ships can be efficiently and safely stowed. Shippers can also provide their separately developed VGM to the ocean carrier on mutual arrangement with that ocean carrier.
“The Declaration of Equivalency for SOLAS Regulation VI/2 by the U.S. Coast Guard on April 28, 2016 provided an important breakthrough in allowing SCPA to maintain what has clearly been a best practice for over 20 years in safely and efficiently loading ships at the Port of Charleston. We applaud Admiral Paul Thomas and the Coast Guard for this decisive step. It means that cargo can continue to move via our port without disruption,“said Jim Newsome, SCPA President and CEO.“We are also grateful for the Federal Maritime Commission’s support of this streamlined method of compliance. It never made sense to us to transmit weight data via multiple parties or gather weights in a disaggregated way when the goal of this regulation is to soundly determine container gross weights and safely load ships.”
The MTOS provision and a list of frequently asked questions can be found here. The effective date of this provision is July 1, 2016. This practice also comports with the IMO Maritime Safety Committee Circular 1475 Implementation Guidelines at Paragraph 9.2 which states that the terminal derived VGM will be used in the event there is a conflict with a shipper provided VGM.