Adoption: 5 April 1966

Entry into force: 21 July 1968

Introduction and history

It has long been acknowledge that restrictions on the draught to which a ship may be loaded make a considerable contribution to her safety. These limits are given in the form of freeboards, which constitute, besides external weathertight and watertight integrity, the main objective of the Convention.

The first International Convention on Load Lines(LL), accepted in 1930, was depends on the principle of reserve buoyancy, but, it was acknowledge then that the freeboard must also assure adequate stability & avoid excessive stress on the ship’s hull as a result of overloading.

In 966 Load Lines convention, accepted by the IMO, provisions are made finding the freeboard of ships by subdivision & damage stability calculations.

The regulations considers the potential hazards present in different zones & different seasons. The technical annex consists of several extra safety measures regarding doors, freeing ports, hatchways & other items. The primary purpose of these measures is to assure the watertight integrity of ships’ hulls below the freeboard deck.

All allocated load lines should be marked amidships on each side of the ship, along with the deck line. Ships considered for the transportation of timber deck cargo are allocated a smaller freeboard as the deck cargo gives protection against the effect of waves.

Load Lines 1966 – Annexes

The Convention comprise Annex I, divided into 4 Chapters:

Chapter I – General;

Chapter II – Conditions of the assignment of free board;

Chapter III – Freeboards;

Chapter IV – Special requirements for the ships assigned timber freeboards.

Annex II covers Zones, areas & seasonal periods.

Annex III contains certificates, including the International Load Line(LL) Certificate.

Amendments 1971, 1975, 1979, 1983

The 1966 Convention allowing for amendments to be made by positive approval. Amendments could be reviewed by the MSC, the IMO Assembly or by the Conference of Governments. Amendments would then only enforced 12 months after being accepted by two-thirds of Contracting Parties. In practice, amendments accepted between 1971 & 1983 never got enough acceptances to enforced. These included:

  • the 1971 amendments – to make certain improvements to the text and to the chart of zones and seasonal areas;
  • the 1975 amendments – to begin the principle of ‘tacit acceptance’ into the Convention;
  • the 1979 amendments – to make some changes to zone boundaries off the coast of Australia; &
  • the 1983 amendments – to extend the summer & tropical zones southward off the coast of the Chile.

Adoption of tacit amendment procedure 1988

The 1988 Protocol

Adoption: 11 November 1988

Entry into force: 3 February 2000

The Protocol was mainly accepted in order to harmonize the Convention’s survey & certification requirement with those included in SOLAS & MARPOL 73/78.

All 3 instruments need the issuing of certificates to show that conditions have been met & this has to be done by means of the survey which can involve the ship being out of service for several days.

The harmonized system reduce the problems created by survey dates & intervals between surveys which do not tally, so that a ship should no longer have to go into port or repair yard for the survey needed by one Convention shortly after doing the same thing in association with another instrument.

The 1988 Load Lines(LL) Protocol alter some regulations in the technical Annexes to the Load Lines(LL) Convention & begin the tacit amendment procedure. Amendments to the Convention may be reviewed either by the MSC or by a Conference of Parties.

Amendments should be accepted by a 2/3 majority of Parties to the Convention present & voting. Amendments enforced 6 months after the deemed date of acceptance – which should be at least a year after the date of communication of acceptance of amendments except if they are rejected by 1/3 of Parties. Generally, the date from acceptance to deemed acceptance is 2 years.

The 1995 amendments

Adopted: 23 November 1995

Entry into force: 12 months after being adopted by 2/3 of Contracting Governments.

Status: superseded by 2003 amendments

The 2003 amendments

Adopted: June 2003

Entry into force: 1 January 2005

The modification to Annex B to the 1988 Load Lines(LL) Protocol comprise a number of major changes, in particular to regulations regarding: strength & the intact stability of the ships; definitions; superstructure & the bulkheads; doors; position of the hatchways, doorways & the ventilators; hatchway coamings; hatch covers; machinery space openings; various openings in the freeboard & the superstructure decks; cargo ports & other similar openings; spurling pipes & the cable lockers; side scuttles; windows & the skylights; determination of the freeing ports; protection of the crew & the means of safe passage for the crew; determination of freeboard; sheer; minimum bow height &  the reserve buoyancy; & others.

The modification, which amount to a complete version of the technical regulations of the original Load Lines(LL) Convention, do not affect the 1966 Load Lines(LL) Convention & only apply to nearly those ships flying the flags of States Party to the 1988 Load Lines(LL) Protocol.