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Final Marine Order 42 and “verified gross mass” of containers – update, June 2016

16 June 2016

Further to our briefing published in May 20161, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has now published the final version of the Marine Order 42 (Carriage, stowage and securing of cargoes and containers) 2016 (Marine Order 42 2016) adopting the amendments to The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which require shippers to provide a verified gross mass (VGM) for containers.

Marine Order 42 2016 will take effect on 1 July 2016 and is currently available on AMSA’s website2 or on the Federal Register of Legislation3.

As foreshadowed in our previous circular, AMSA has made no amendments to the container weight provisions in draft Marine Order 42 circulated on 10 March 2016 which now appear as Marine Order 42 2016. This would appear to indicate that AMSA was satisfied that industry stakeholders, following the six week consultation period up to 30 April 2016, adequately understood their obligations under the draft Marine Order 42 and how to comply with its provisions.

As explained in our previous circular, the SOLAS amendments provide for a VGM to be obtained through one of two weighing methods, as follows:

  • Weighing the entire container using calibrated and certified equipment (Method 1).
  • Weighing the contents of the container (including each package, dunnage, pallet and securing materials) and adding them to the tare weight using a certified method approved by the competent authority of the state in which the packing was completed (Method 2).

The requirements of Marine Order 42 2016 will be satisfied if a VGM using either Method 1 or Method 2 is obtained using equipment that complies with the accuracy standards prescribed by AMSA or is in compliance with the requirements of the national measurement legislation for that type of equipment (see s 10(3)).

The strict liability penalty provisions introduced in the draft Marine Order 42 relating to a failure to ensure a VGM is stated in the shipping document or that the VGM is obtained in accordance with the order (i.e. using Method 1 or Method 2) (see s 11) have been retained as has the strict liability offence relating to loading a container onto a vessel without a VGM (see s 12).

Stakeholders now have a matter of days to ensure their activities comply with Marine Order 42 2016 and the SOLAS requirements.


  1. Available here
John Court
Global Director of Information Technology