The TT Club, a mutual insurance association, urged all participants at the International Maritime Organization’s session on Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers to redouble their efforts to come up with a global regulation to verify the weights of containers.
The London-based insurer said such a regulation is crucial to the safety of container ships in view of the fact that the erroneous declaration of container weights has been identified in a number of recent high-profile maritime disasters such as those involving the MSC Napoli, Riverdance and Husky Racer.
“The Club is in a unique position to speak on this issue, insuring not only something in excess of 80 percent of all maritime containers but also with an insurable interest in ports handling around 50 percent of the world’s containerized freight,” said Peregrine Storrs-Fox, TT Club’s risk management director.
“While the immediate debate is only part of an overall cargo integrity matrix that demands our attention, the Club has noted numerous accidents both at sea and on land, where weight misdeclaration is a material root cause,” he said.
The TT Club’s statement was prompted by the failure of the IMO’s 17th Session of the Dangerous Goods, Solid Cargoes and Containers Subcommittee in London last week to agree on definitive changes in international law relating to the verification of container weights.
“Further delay in this modest legal change is frustrating, particularly since there was substantial consensus concerning acceptable ways to ensure that weight declarations are accurate,” said Storrs-Fox, who was part of a delegation at the IMO session.
The TT Club said it believes valuable progress was made leading to the recommendation to amend SOLAS (the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea) to require that freight containers should not be loaded on board a ship without a verified weight.
“The direction seems clear, and the delay will be insubstantial, so we are urging shippers, forwarders, freight consolidators and terminals to start planning for this reality,” Storrs-Fox said.