The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, or SOLAS, is a long-standing international maritime treaty which directly relates to the enforcement of health and safety regulations in the construction, equipment and operation of vessels and other sea-faring modes of transport.

Signatory flag states are expected to comply with these standards for any vessels or equipment bearing their flag. As of March 2016, SOLAS has 162 contracting states, which allows for approximately 99% of merchant vessels globally in terms of gross tonnage.

The SOLAS Convention was actually first introduced over a century ago in 1914, and was drafted in response to the sinking of the RMS Titanic. There have been numerous updates to the legislation over the course of its existence; this advisory looks specifically at SOLAS Container Weight Verification Regulation VI/2. This amendment was adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in November 2014 and will become mandatory on the 1st of July 2016.

This legislative update has been introduced in an attempt to curtail potential disasters at sea, and will allow for closer management of the weight of containers and cargo on board a given vessel. This in turn will allow vessel operators and their planning teams to ensure that stowage plans are formulated in a safe and secure manner. From the 1st of July 2016, it will be necessary to provide the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of any laden shipping container, prior to loading on board a vessel.

It should be noted that this advisory is intended to provide a brief overview of the impending legislative changes, and should be not considered exhaustive. As ever, the KMB Shipping team will be happy to assist with any questions that you may have, so please do not hesitate to get in touch.