LOAD LINE, a mark placed by recognized authority on the side of a vessel to indicate the maximum depth to which she may be legally loaded under the British law. It is required to he 12 inches in length and one inch in width, and is accompanied or enclosed by a circle struck from the centre of the upper edge of the line. Generally the line is made longer than the required 12 inches, and extends be yond the circle in both directions. -On wooden ships the line and the circle are to be cut into the wood at least one-fourth of an inch deep. On steel vessels the line and circle are to be painted on—in white or yellow, if the hull is dark; in black if the hull is light in color. In the case of the steel ship it is required that the centre of the circle shall be indented with a punch, so that if painted over for any reason the point may be identified beyond any ques tion. The load line as indicated is for the summer loading of ships traversing salt water. Several modifications have been allowed by law: a slightly deeper loading for the Indian Ocean in summer, and a still deeper loading if the vessel is to navigate only in fresh water.
In the other direction a lighter loading is re quired for winter, and a still lighter loading if the winter voyage is to be made in the stormy north Atlantic Ocean. These modifi cations of the load-line are painted alongside of the line and circle somewhat in the form of a gridiron — as shown in the diagram.
There are three executive bodies authorized by the British law to affix or to approve these marks: Lloyd's Register, the Bureau Veritas and the British Corporation. Initial letters (LR, BV or BC) are usually placed at the ends of the line which project beyond the cir cle, showing which of these bodies has verified the correct placing of the line.
The load line is a development of the for mer "Plimsoll mark" established by Samuel Plimsoll (q.v.) in the effort to prevent the hazard to the lives of seamen in the overload ing of vessels. Consult Lloyd's Register, 'Rules and Regulations for Steel Vessels (of (for sailing as the case may be) pub lished annually in London.