Tag Archives: Load lines

International load line Certificate-A Handy Guide

Navsregs>Ship Certification>Load Line Certificate

This series continues exploring the realm of ship certification with another document that defines a vessel.


Defining how deep a vessel can load-The Load Line Certificate

Why is it needed?

It is required by the International Convention on Load Lines, 1966

“(1) An International Tonnage Certificate (1969) shall be issued to every ship, the gross and net tonnages of which have been determined in accordance with the present Convention.”

Click here for the Treaty’s IMO page>IMO

By UK law The Merchant Shipping (Load Line) Regulations 1998

Explained within  UK’S MSN 1752

What ships need one?

Ships engaged on international voyages


  • Ships of war
  • Ships of less than 24 metres (79 feet) in length;
  • Pleasure yachts not engaged in trade;
    Fishing vessels.

How is it obtained?

After an initial survey before the ship is put in service, which shall include a complete inspection of its structure and equipment in so far as the ship is covered by Convention. The survey shall be such as to ensure that the arrangements, materials and scantlings fully comply with the requirements of the the International Convention on Load Lines.

How is it maintained?

By a periodical survey not exceed five years, to ensure that the structure, equipment, arrangements, materials and scantlings fully comply with the requirements of the Convention.

And an  inspection within three months either way of each annual anniversary date of the certificate, to ensure that alterations have not been made to the hull or superstructures which would affect the calculations determining the position of the load line.

What is looked during the annual inspection?

The effective condition of fittings and appliances for:

  • Protection of openings
  • Guard rails
  • Freeing ports
  • Means of access to crew’s quarters

What is contained on the certificate?

  • Name of ship
  • Distinctive Number of letters
  • Port of Registry
  • Length
  • Gross Tonnage
  • Type of ship
  • Freeboards ( from deck line) and load lines assigned for:
    • Winter North Atlantic
    • Winter
    • Summmer
    • Tropical
  • Date of survey
  • Any Conditions
  • Endorsement of annual Survey

Example of load line certificate from MSN 1752. Reproduced under Open Government Licence V3

What other document is found with the load line certificate?

The record of particulars relating to conditions of assignment.

What information is contained within the records of particulars?

Tables with details of the following (Where they apply to superstructures, exposed machinery casings and deckhouses protecting openings in freeboard and superstructure decks):

  • Doors
  • Hatchways
  • Machinery space openings
  • Ventilators
  • Air pipes
  • Cargo ports ans similar openings
  • Scuppers, inlets discharges
  • Side scuttles
  • Freeing ports
  • Protection of the crew
  • Timber deck cargo fittings
  • Other special features


How is the freeboard determined?

The treaty contains tables based on the length of the ship and type. These tables give the basic freeboard, which is then adjusted for several factors freeboard to give the summer freeboard. The other seasonal  freeboards are calculated based on the summer value.




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