International ocean carrier and port groups are urging the International Maritime Organization to adopt a rule that would require containers to be weighed before being loaded.
Christopher Koch, president of the World Shipping Council, said that verifying the weight of boxes will make ship loading safer.
“Right now all we have is the declared weight,” Koch said, which comes from the cargo owner. “In a significant percentage of cases, the declared weight is less than the actual weight.”
The U.S. requires that all export containers are weighed, but there is no such requirement in other countries.
Koch said ships’ captains have only the declared weight when making up the stow plan, and that limitation can lead to cargo being out of balance. The WSC cites one case in June 2011 in which a small container ship tipped over at the pier in Algeciras, Spain. Investigators found that almost one in 10 of the vessel's containers were two to seven times over the declared weight.
The request to amend the IMO Safety of Life At Sea convention is being supported by WSC, International Association of Ports and Harbors, BIMCO, and the International Chamber of Shipping.
A white paper on the subject is available here.