U.S. Declares an Equivalency in Determining Container Weights


The U.S. Coast Guard has filed equivalency with International Maritime Organisation(IMO) regarding the determination of container weights.


The Coast Guard released marine safety information bulletin ‘009/16’ that provides additional information.  Both documents are intended to minimize confusion over the SOLAS regulation VI-2 amendments that come into effect on July 1, 2016, also known as the “Container Weight” or “VGM” Amendments.

What made the filing of equivalency important?

The apparent misunderstandings about the sufficient flexibility in the SOLAS regulation to allow for various methods of calculating, verifying and communicating verified gross mass, VGM.

Rear Admiral Paul Thomas, assistant commandant for prevention policy said: “It is the Coast Guard’s desire to put at ease carriers who have voiced concerns regarding the SOLAS amendments and the associated voluntary implementation guidelines.”

Shippers, carriers, terminals, and maritime associations have outlined multiple acceptable methods for providing VGM.  Examples include:

  • The terminal weighs the container and when duly authorized, verifies the VGM on behalf of the shipper.
  • The shipper and carrier reach agreement whereby the shipper verifies the weight of the cargo, dunnage and other securing material and the container’s tare weight is provided and verified by the carrier.

For the purposes of determining the VGM of a container, any equipment currently being used to comply with Federal or State laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b), are acceptable for the purpose of complying with SOLAS.

During vessel inspections, the Coast Guard will verify that ships’ masters receive the VGM of containers in order to ensure that ships are loaded safely and operate within their structural and stability safety limitations.

The United States Coast Guard, as a flag and Port State Authority, will continue to ensure the Masters of the ships loading containers in US are provided accurate container weights as required by SOLAS VI/2.

Source: US Coast Guard