May 20, 2016
The Port of Charleston has retracted its previously announced $25 fee for container weighing services and will instead offer these services free of charge. The South Carolina Ports Authority stated the charge is no longer necessary due to the recent announcement of two alternative methods by the U.S. Coast Guard. The Port of Charleston joins the ports of Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina in offering free weighing services for its customers.
According to the Journal of Commerce (JOC), select terminals at Port Everglades will offer container weighing services, but not all. Additionally, pricing will vary depending on the terminal. Terminals which already have the necessary equipment in place to capture the VGM include Florida International Terminal, Crowley Liner Services and King Ocean Services.
Yesterday, May 19, six U.S. East and Gulf Coast operating ports and 19 ocean container lines asked the Federal Maritime Commission for permission to enter a "discussion agreement." This would allow the ports and carriers to share information and data relating to SOLAS. The ports involved include: Georgia, Houston, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The agreement states, "any two or more parties are authorized to exchange information, discuss and reach voluntary, non-binding agreement upon all matters relating to rules, procedures, programs, practices, terms and conditions with respect to the organization, development, calculation, availability, transmission or use of verified gross mass data."
India officially published its final SOLAS guidelines this week in preparation for the July 1 implementation date. The final publication did not specify the penalties shippers could face for non-compliance. However, a list of default shippers will be displayed on the website of the Directorate General of Shipping. As previously stated, terminal container weighing services will be prohibited and weighing must take place outside terminal gates. If containers arrive at a terminal without VGM data, it will not be accepted for loading upon the vessel.
This week, U.S. Senator John Thune wrote a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) asking it to increase its involvement with SOLAS to ensure marine terminals' approaches are consistent with U.S. maritime law. His letter was in alignment with concerns of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC) regarding the shipper's inability to confirm container tare weights. As stated, the USCG has provided two additional options for verifying weights and several terminals are now offering weighing services for exporters. SOLAS remains a global regulation with a quickly approaching implementation date.