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May 20, 2016 9:15 AM, EDT

Ocean Carriers, Six Ports Reach Deal on Container Weight Procedures

Todd Lappin/Flickr

Container carriers that belong to the Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association trade group and six ports have announced the first united approach to meeting new international freight weight requirements that take effect July 1.

The group of 19 carriers that includes all major liner fleets announced the agreement with the South Carolina Ports Authority, Georgia Ports Authority, North Carolina State Ports Authority, the Port of Houston Authority, The Port of Virginia and the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The parties said they will develop a streamlined “terminal weighing approach” to compute verified gross mass or VGM for compliance with a maritime agreement known as Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS. That agreement was intended to improve onboard safety for vessels and crew by preventing overweight containers that can break loose and lead to injuries.

“This [agreement] represents an unprecedented effort by major ports and carriers to develop a common VGM framework that will simplify procedures for shippers, carriers and terminals and promote terminal fluidity,” said Frank Grossi, Chairman of OCEMA and executive vice president of President, COSCO Container Lines America Inc.

The statement didn’t indicate whether such agreements might be reached at other key ports such as Los Angeles, Long Beach, California, and the Port of New York and New Jersey.

“The terminal weighing approach aims to ensure fluidity at major East and Gulf Coast ports and provide shippers, carriers and terminals with a simple means of compliance with the SOLAS VGM requirements,” the statement said.