Safety is always our first priority at The Port of Virginia, and we fully support the SOLAS convention and its purpose of protecting mariners at sea.
Therefore, consistent with the SOLAS convention, The Port of Virginia will require that any packed container have a properly transmitted and formatted Verified Gross Mass (VGM). The VGM must be provided via EDI (electronic data interchange) format.
On April 28, 2016, the United States Coast Guard issued a Maritime Safety Bulletin, declaring an Equivalency to the SOLAS regulation. In summary, it says that for purposes of determining the VGM of a container, any equipment currently being used to comply with Federal or State laws, including the Intermodal Safe Container Transportation Act and the container weight requirements in 29 CFR 1918.85(b), are acceptable for the purpose of complying with SOLAS.
The Port of Virginia will have the ability to receive the VGM via EDI and only via EDI, by July 1, 2016. We shall only receive these messages from our Ship Line partners.
The Port of Virginia will continue to work with the various stakeholders/partners and their respective information technology departments to ensure an uninterrupted flow of cargo.
Below are some questions and answers that are relevant to The Port of Virginia’s preparation for the implementation of SOLAS on July 1.
Q: Will The Port of Virginia impose a fee, or will there be a charge associated with this procedure?
A: No. As the procedure is currently described, The Port of Virginia has no plans to charge for this service.
Q: What will be different after July 1st, as a container enters The Port of Virginia’s marine terminals?
A: Nothing will be different. The unit will be weighed, as it always has, in compliance with OSHA regulations 29 CFR 1918.85(b) and 1917.71(b). That weight shall be made available to the ship line, for use in the required compliance of the SOLAS regulation.
Q: What happens in the event the container is presented at the gate or rail without a VGM?
A: The container shall be weighed according to our current practice consistent with OSHA 29 CFR 1918.85 (b) and 1917.71(b) and that weight shall be made available to the ship line via a 322 EDI message. Until the container has a properly transmitted VGM, the container shall remain on hold at the marine terminal and not be made available to load to the vessel.
Q: How will ship lines send a VGM?
A: The Port of Virginia is currently testing the World Shipping Council’s VERMAS EDI message. This will be the only EDI message format accepted to transmit a VGM to our marine terminals.
Q: When will the terminals be ready to participate in EDI testing to include VERMAS?
A: We are now ready to test EDI messaging from all ship lines and will do so with the ship lines.
Q: In what format will the terminals be able to provide the VGM back to the shiplines?
A: The ship lines will be sent a 322 EDI message and a BAPLIE file upon vessel load that will contain a VGM.
Q: Will your terminal accept receiving the VGM from the ship lines directly?
A: Yes and the ocean carriers will be the only party from which we accept a VGM.
Q: Will your terminal accept receiving VGM from shippers directly?
A: No, all VGMs must be transmitted to The Port of Virginia via a ship line.
Q: What version of the BAPLIE file will you be using for vessel stowage planning?
A: We currently accept Baplie, versions 1.5 and 2.0 and we are reviewing the best way to display this information.
Q: How long after sending a VGM by EDI will it be posted in your system?
A: EDI messages are constantly being received. It typically takes 15-30 minutes to process the messages and post to our systems. Occasionally, large amounts of EDI messages are received which can take upwards of two hours to process the data and post to our systems.
Q: What is the procedure for sending VGM when OOG (out-of-gauge) stuffing?
- We will provide weights for any stuffing materials and the tare of the container used to the shipper or ship line.
- The ship line will then be responsible to return a VGM for the container and freight via a VERMAS EDI message.
We understand that this is a dynamic situation and will continue to work to provide answers and direction as they relate to The Port of Virginia’s SOLAS policy adherence.