LONDON, UK–Seven years after overweight containers contributed to the dramatic breakup of a vessel in the English Channel, the United Nations said Monday it will require all containers to be weighed starting in July 2016. The Maritime Safety Committee of the International Maritime Organization approved changes that would require container weights to be verified before the containers are loaded onto the vessels – as the U.S. has required for years. Container lines, port labor and terminal operators have pointed to recent accidents as proof that mandatory container weighing is need.
Overweight containers played a role in the breakup and subsequent beaching of the MSC Napoli on the southern U.K. coast in January 2007, along with the partial capsizing of the Deneb, a 500-TEU feeder ship, in the Spanish port of Algeciras in June 2011. The crackdown on overweight containers, the number of which some estimates peg at 130 million annually is part of a broader global effort to combat mis-declaration of exports. Under the new rules, shippers can either weigh the loaded container or weigh all packages and cargo items and then add the weight of the empty box. The new rule won’t formally take effect until the IMO approves the changes to the Safety of Life at Seas convention in November, paving the way for final implementation in July 2016, said the organization.