What is the general philosophy behind the SCPA’s approach to SOLAS?
We have accurately weighed containers and stowed ships in our port for many years and should not lose the benefit of this best practice in terms of both safely loading ships and handling cargo efficiently. We also wish to recognize the Declaration of Equivalency to the SOLAS Regulation VI/2 issued by the U.S. Coast Guard in their Maritime Safety Bulletin of April 28, 2016. We believe it is important to streamline the transmission of this weight information to the greatest extent possible consistent with the content of this declaration.
What is the SOLAS process in the Port of Charleston as of July 1, 2016?
The port will continue to provide gross container weights to the ocean carriers via EDI 322 transactions as we have for many years. Shippers utilizing our port authorize the use of these weights as their VGM for the purposes of meeting their SOLAS obligation. No further written or electronic authorization is required. Shippers wishing to use another method to provide VGM to their ocean carriers will need to make arrangements directly with that ocean carrier. Shippers should bear in mind that IMO Maritime Safety Committee Implementation Guideline 1475 states at Article 9.2 that any conflict between a shipper provided VGM and a terminal provided VGM will be resolved in favor of the latter.
Will the Port of Charleston provide its scale weights to individual shippers?
We have no practical way to do this and would ask shippers wishing to have this information to make arrangements to get those weights from their ocean carrier. Given the process outlined in our tariff, we do not believe that this will be necessary.
Will the Port of Charleston charge for this weighing service?
As we have long provided this service to our ocean carrier customers, there will be no additional charge.
Will the Port of Charleston accept VGM/s directly from shippers?
We have no need to receive VGM/s directly from shippers as we do not stow vessels and are providing VGM/s from our terminal system directly to the ocean carriers. In fact, such receipt would potentially create a conflict in weight data that would anyway be resolved by use of the terminal provided weights and likely contribute to a delay in shipment.
Is there any practical effect of this on vessel cut-off times?
Due to the fact that we employ the same weighing process as today we do not envision any change to cut-off times but that is a determination to be made by the respective ocean carrier serving our port. They are our customer.
What about transshipments?
We do not handle a lot of transshipments but will use the weight from the origin port and not further weigh the container in Charleston.
Where can I find more information about SC Ports’ SOLAS procedures?
We feel that our tariff rule is quite comprehensive on this topic, but please contact us if there are further questions.