GPA to weigh containers at no cost to shippers

The US Coast Guard announced recently that state-calibrated scales already in use at the Port of Savannah GA meet a new requirement of the international Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.

“We would like to commend the US Coast Guard for bringing clarity to the SOLAS issue,” said Griff Lynch, incoming executive director at Georgia Ports Authority. “In conjunction with the International Longshoremen’s Association, the GPA currently weighs all loaded export containers—and will continue to do so at no cost to the customer.”

An amendment to the international SOLAS Convention, effective July 1, called for shippers to either weigh loaded containers or weigh empty containers and cargo separately, and provide a verified gross mass total to shipping lines. A Coast Guard bulletin issued April 28 explained that the current practice of weighing containers at terminal gates delivers equivalent data.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) outlines the background of the SOLAS Convention and its goals in this article:

The SOLAS Convention in its successive forms is generally regarded as the most important of all international treaties concerning the safety of merchant ships. The first version was adopted in 1914 in response to the Titanic disaster, the second in 1929, the third in 1948, and the fourth in 1960. The 1974 version includes the tacit acceptance procedure—which provides that an amendment shall enter into force on a specified date unless, before that date, objections to the amendment are received from an agreed number of parties.

The main objective of the SOLAS Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment, and operation of ships, compatible with their safety. Flag States are responsible for ensuring that ships under their flag comply with its requirements, and a number of certificates are prescribed in the Convention as proof that this has been done. Control provisions also allow Contracting Governments to inspect ships of other Contracting States if there are clear grounds for believing that the ship and its equipment do not substantially comply with the requirements of the Convention—this procedure is known as port State control. The​ current SOLAS Convention includes Articles setting out general obligations, amendment procedure and so on, followed by an Annex divided into 12 Chapters.

The Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal, the largest single container terminal in the United States, features four gates with 48 interchange lanes and two on-dock rail facilities.

In compliance with the Code of Federal Regulations, the GPA weighs all export containers arriving via truck and intermodal rail.

Georgia’s deepwater ports and inland barge terminals support more than 369,000 jobs throughout the state annually and contribute $20.4 billion in income, $84.1 billion in revenue, and $2.3 billion in state and local taxes to Georgia’s economy. The Port of Savannah handled 8% of the US containerized cargo volume and 11% of all US containerized exports in 2014.

For more information, go to www.gaports.com.

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