Solas customer letter Transhipments and containers in stack

Mandatory verification of gross mass (VGM) of containers: the application of the transhipment cut over period


The International Maritime Organisation has adopted amendments to the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention in November 2014. These amendments required mandatory verification of a container’s Verified Gross Mass (VGM), which entailed verification of container weights before any export containers were loaded on board a vessel. These requirements became legally binding from 1 July 2016 and the new pre-advise fields were applied to export containers entering the terminal from 27 July 2016.

On the 27th of May the South African Maritime Safety Authority (SAMSA) issued Maritime notice 25 of 2016 in which a three-month grace period for qualifying transhipment containers was granted. The guideline stipulates, ‘For a period of three consecutive months after the 1st of July 2016 i.e. up to and including 30th September 2016, containers loaded prior to 1st July 2016 and then transhipped on or after 1st July 2016 may be shipped to their final port of discharge without the verified gross mass specified in SOLAS Regulations VI/2.4 to VI/2.6’.

Transhipment loaded pre-1 July 2016 were therefore absolved from the SOLAS VGM requirement. Given that TPT would not be in a position to differentiate between qualifying and non-qualifying transhipments discharged into the TPT container stack post 1 July 2016, it was agreed that during the three month grace period, TPT would regard all transhipments received post 1 July 2016 as qualifying transhipments, unless notified otherwise by the carrier.


As this transition period comes to an end TPT will be implementing the following amendments to all transhipment containers:

For transhipment containers already in a TPT Terminals’ stack during the transition period up to 28th September 2016, TPT will require confirmation of the VGM before such container can be loaded on board a vessel. In order to obtain this confirmation, TPT will provide the Shipping Lines with a list of all transhipment containers in the terminal as at 00:01 on 26th September 2016. It will be the responsibility of the shipping lines to confirm that the VGM has been provided to the Shipping Lines. TPT will require the VGM details for each transhipment container in stack on 27th September to be in the Navis/Gcos system. The “no VGM – no Load” rule will be implemented from 00h01 on the 28th of September 2016. This will prevent any transhipment container for which there is no VGM in Navis/GCOS from being planned and loaded onto a vessel on the 28th September 2016. All transhipment containers entering TPT terminals on or after 00:01 of 28th September 2016 will be permitted.
We look forward to smooth SOLAS implementation for all transhipment container supply chain industry players.


Kind regards

Michelle Phillips
General Manager: Commercial & Planning

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