It is not very uncommon to have more than one load-line for the vessel.
There are many reasons why shipowners choose to have more than one load-lines on their ships.
For example at some ports, the port dues are based upon the deadweight. And if the ship has not loaded to the maximum capacity the shipowner would want to reduce their port dues.
Then at some ports, there is a restriction on the maximum deadweight of the ship.
Having more than one loadline gives the option to the owners to reduce or increase the deadweight according to their requirements.
However, there is a number of things Masters and ship staff need to be aware of while sailing on ships with more than one load-lines.
Masters and ship staff are encouraged to check these points to be very sure that their ship is not detained by port state controls or is issued Condition of class during the annual load line survey.
1) Both the load line certificates kept in the certificate folder
It is a requirement by all the flag states, vetting companies, and the classification societies to display only one load line certificate that is in use.
The other one MUST be kept in a sealed envelop in the master’s locker or other safe custody.
2) The painted load-line on ship side does not correspond to the load line certificate in the certificate folder
This situation can arise because of any of these two facts.
The load line marks on the ship side were not changed during the last documented change of loadline and just the load line certificates were replaced.
Or the load line marks on the ship side were changed but the master forgot to replace the load line certificate.
Whatever the reason, the deficiency has the potential of having the ship detained by the port state control.
3) The Loadline marks on starboard side do not correspond to the load line marks on the port side
This might look silly but there have been detentions by many port state controls due to this deficiency.
The most common reason for this deficiency is not because only one side of load line marks was painted but because on one side, the old marks were removed and then mistakenly the same have been painted again.
4) No entry is made in the official logbook for the change in load-lines
All flag states & classification societies require that whenever the load-lines are changed, Masters must make an appropriate entry in the official logbook.
5) The second load line certificate (kept in the locker) is not stamped for annual class endorsements
It is very important that all the load line certificates are stamped for annual surveys.
During the annual class survey, it is quite possible that other than the load line certificate in use are not stamped, as these are not in the certificate folder.
6) Wrong load line certificate is displayed in the accommodation
A small mistake but can be pointed out by Port State control inspectors.
In ports where PSC inspector tends to make big issues of smaller things, this issue can give rise to the unfavourable situation with PSC inspectors.
About Capt Rajeev Jassal
Capt. Rajeev Jassal has sailed for over 20 years mainly on crude oil, product and chemical tankers. He holds MBA in shipping & Logistics degree from London. He has done extensive research on quantitatively measuring Safety culture onboard and safety climate ashore which he believes is the most important element for safer shipping.
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