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New year should bring reform for overweight container issue

By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
December 27, 2010

The World Shipping Council (WSC) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) are urging the International Maritime Organization (IMO) to establish an international legal requirement that all loaded containers be weighed at the marine port facility before they are stowed aboard a vessel for export.

This is a move that is long overdue.

In 2008, the industry developed and released Safe Transport of Containers by Sea, Guidelines on Industry Best Practices, with a view to minimizing the dangers to containerships, their crews, and all personnel involved with containers throughout the transport chain. The Guidelines have been highly regarded and have been widely disseminated. However, the Guidelines have had little discernible effect on reducing the incidences of shippers’ providing incorrect container weights, or on ensuring that marine terminals verify the weight of loaded containers upon receipt/prior to loading.

In the absence of a legal requirement that marine terminal operators perform a weighing function for all loaded (“stuffed”) containers before vessel loading, it seems likely that a substantial number of containers will continue to go unweighed and that overweight containers will continue to pose a risk to safe ship operations, to ships’ crew, and to other personnel in the supply chain.

Therefore, the IMO should establish a universal international regulatory requirement that export cargo containers must be weighed by the marine terminal upon receipt and before vessel loading, and that the actual container weights be made available to the vessel operator and used for vessel stowage planning.

About the Author

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Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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