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LONDON: May 23, 2016. The Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) has agreed a three-month hiatus to apply its verified gross mass (VGM) regulation for packed containers due to come into force on July 01, 2016.

The IMO has acknowledged concerns by shippers, terminal handlers and operators in respect to containers loaded on a vessel before July 01 and then transshipped after the VGM regulations have come into force.

SOLAS The committee also noted that in the first few months after July “some leeway should be provided in order for any problems resulting from software updates, required for the electronic collection and transmittal of verified gross mass data, to be rectified without causing delays to containers being loaded”.

The MSC concluded it would be beneficial to shippers if government administrations and port authorities take a “practical and pragmatic approach” when enforcing the new VGM regulation in order to ensure containers loaded before July 01, 2016 and transshipped after that date reach their final port of discharge without a VGM.

Container transport insurer TT Club said it welcomed the new IMO guidance: “Like many others in the industry, we have been disturbed by the apparent confusion over how shippers will comply with the amendment to the SOLAS Convention,” said TT Club’s Risk Management director, Peregrine Storrs-Fox. 

“Moreover we have been particularly concerned about the patchy guidance given by national authorities to assist shippers and operators in minimizing expense, delays and errors in complying with the regulation. This clarifying statement from the IMO is therefore welcome,” he added.

Storrs-Fox noted that because of a number of grey areas in the SOLAS regulation, the IMO is unlikely to penalize “any party who has done its level best to comply, even if it has not technically fulfilled the letter of the law."

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