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Load line certificate

Load Line Convention 1966

Loading restrictions are governed by  an international convention , the Load Line Convention 1966.All vessels arequired to have Load Line Certificate (unless exempt).
The convention pertains specifically to a ship’s load line (also referred to as the “waterline”), a marking of the highest point on a ship’s hull that can safely meet the surface of the water; a ship that is loaded to the point where its load line is underwater and no longer visible has exceeded its draft and is in danger because its capacity has been exceeded.

The 1988 Protocol

This was adopted to harmonise the survey and certification requirement of the 1966 Convention with those contained in the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) and MARPOL 73/78.
In accordance with the International Convention on Load Lines (CLL 66/88), all assigned load lines must be marked amidships on each side of the ships engaged in international voyages. The determinations of the freeboard of ships are calculated and/or verified by classification societies which issue International Load Line Certificates in accordance with the legislation of participating States.
Load lines are evidenced by markings on the side of the ship. Their purpose is to create a parameter for loading against which a vessel’s safety and stability in the water can be gauged, factoring in the difference in salinity of the oceans around the world.
 The lines indicate the freeboard and must not be exceeded at any point during a voyage. The final responsibility of ensuring that the vessel is up to its marks lies with the captain who bears criminal liability in this respect.
The Load Line  Convention stipulates how  the minimum freeboard for ships is calculated . Each flag state is responsible for the convention’s implementation and enactment into national legislation, to be applied to all vessels 24 metres in length or over.
Pleasure yachts not engaged in trade are exempt. Some nations requires ships under 24 metres to display load lines.

Issue of certificate

A load line certificate is issued to an Assigning Authority approved by the flag state – generally a national body such as the MCA or one the major Classification Societies. Upon survey, the conditions of assignment are determined and freeboard to ensure stability is calculated/.Once the ship has been marked with the necessary load lines the certificate is issued. A Stability Information Booklet is issued with the certificate, both of which are to be kept on board.
The Load Line certificate must be displayed on the ship where it can be seen. Conditions of assignment for a ship are recorded in a booklet called The Record of Particulars Relating
to Conditions of Assignment. This  must be kept on board and be available for inspection.

Essential Law

Cancellation of a load line certificate
A load line certificate may be cancelled on breach of conditions:
• Non-compliance with the  conditions of assignment
• A reduction in  structural integrity causing the ship to be unsafe
• Incorrect information that formed the basis of the assignment of freeboard
• Non-endorsement of the certificate
A ship cannot take to sea if:
• It has not been surveyed  in line with the stipulations of the convention
• It breaches the conditions of assignment
• It is not marked with a deck line and a load line
Stability, loading and ballasting information has to made available for the supervision of the master.
A copy of the certificate to Customs at the time of obtaining clearance to sail
Concealing or removing or altering load lines is a criminal offence.
The certificate is usually valid for 5 years, subject to annual
inspections. Every inspection is recorded on the back of the Load Line Certificate.
Annexes to the Convention contain various regulations for determining load lines, including details of marking and verification of marks, conditions of assignment of freeboard, freeboard tables and corrections, special provisions for ships intended for the carriage of timber and the prescribed form of International Load Line Certificates.
INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION ON LOAD LINES, PROTOCOL OF 1988, AS AMENDED IN The Convention includes annexes I, II and III. Annex I, divided into four Chapters: Chapter I – General; Chapter II – Conditions of assignment of freeboard; Chapter III – Freeboards; Chapter IV – Special requirements for ships assigned timber freeboards. Annex II covers Zones, areas and seasonal periods. Annex III contains certificates.


According to the Annexes to the Convention, also taken into account are the potential hazards present in different zones and different seasons and additional safety measures concerning doors, hatchways etc.
Commercial Yachts, which operate commercially and do carry more than 12 passengers  are subject to the
Large Yacht Code (the LY3) for yachts of 24m in length or over, that references the Load Line Certificate (annex 4).

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