The Consequences of Inaccurate Ocean Freight Container Weight Declaration

By ussa-login on Monday, May 29, 2017 - Blog

Before the late 1950s, the captain of a ship was confident that he knew what cargo was on his ship. He could easily watch the cargo being hauled over the gunwale and into the hold. The introduction of the container changed all that. Being loaded and then sealed miles from the port, the only evidence of what is in the container is a piece of paper.

Container cargo and weight misdeclaration – whether unintentional or otherwise – has been the bane of ocean freight container shipping since its beginning. “Inaccurate container weights have been a safety problem dogging the industry for a long period of time, and they weren’t getting better,” said Chris Koch, president of the World Shipping Council.

With ships growing in size and capacity, and containers carrying increasing global trade, the scourge is only getting worse.

What Can Go Wrong? 

  • Partial hull collapses.
  • Significant stability incidents.
  • Stack overload and the application of excessive compression and racking forces on containers and their lashings.
  • Upturned forklifts.
  • Containers falling from cranes.
  • The collapse of on-deck container stacks


In May 2014, the International Maritime Organization’s Maritime Safety Committee approved changes to the Safety of Life at Sea convention placing responsibility for compliance squarely on the shipper.

The United States Shippers Association

The USSA has always been active in providing its members with:

  • strategic advice,
  • greater negotiating volume,
  • broader negotiation skills,
  • Export Trading Certificate protection, and so much more.

Please contact us to find out how to become a member of the association, or for further information.

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