Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach Announce They Will Not Weigh Containers for SOLAS

On Monday, April 4, terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced that the terminals do not have the necessary equipment to weigh containers before they are loaded on ships.

Beginning July 1, 2016, every container must have a verified gross mass which will be provided to the ocean carriers prior to loading the container on a ship for export. This new requirement stems from an amendment to the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which was adopted in 2014 by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

The West Coast Marine Terminal Operators Association (WCMTOA) released a statement reading: “[the 13 terminals are] incapable of providing VGM weighing services that adhere to the SOLAS guidelines scheduled to go into effect on July 1.” This announcement is a blow to shippers, forwarders, and consolidators hoping for clarity on how to ensure they comply with the broad sweeping regulation despite limited guidance from the U.S. Coast Guard.

In early March, the U.S. Coast Guard informed the public that they believed that their statutory and regulatory authority to enforce SOLAS requirements extended only to oversight of the ocean carriers and their manifest. Additionally, the Coast Guard interprets their authority such that they will not pursue financial or enforcement penalties to entities that tender freight to those carriers further up the supply chain, and they will not pursue an expansion of that statutory or regulatory authority.

TIA's International Logistics Conference is monitoring implementation of the new SOLAS rules and will ensure that TIA members are kept up to date. For more information, please contact Will Sehestedt at 703-299-5713 or sehestedt@tianet.org.