2016 US Code
Title 46 - Shipping
Subtitle II - Vessels and Seamen
Part C - Load Lines of Vessels
Chapter 51 - Load Lines
Sec. 5104 - Assignment of load lines

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Citation 46 U.S.C. § 5104 (2016)
Section Name §5104. Assignment of load lines
Section Text

(a) The Secretary shall assign load lines for a vessel so that they indicate the minimum safe freeboard to which the vessel may be loaded. However, if the owner requests, the Secretary may assign load lines that result in greater freeboard than the minimum safe freeboard.

(b) In assigning load lines for a vessel, the Secretary shall consider—

(1) the service, type, and character of the vessel;

(2) the geographic area in which the vessel will operate; and

(3) applicable international agreements to which the United States Government is a party.


(c) An existing vessel may retain its load lines assigned before January 1, 1986, unless the Secretary decides that a substantial change in the vessel after those load lines were assigned requires that new load lines be assigned under this chapter.

(d) The minimum freeboard of an existing vessel may be reduced only if the vessel complies with every applicable provision of this chapter.

(e) The Secretary may designate by regulation specific geographic areas that have less severe weather or sea conditions and from which there is adequate time to return to available safe harbors. The Secretary may reduce the minimum freeboard of a vessel operating in these areas.

Source Credit

(Pub. L. 99–509, title V, §5101(2), Oct. 21, 1986, 100 Stat. 1915.)

Editorial Notes HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES Revised section 5104

Source: Section (U.S. Code) 46 App. U.S.C. 86c, 88a.

Section 5104(a) requires the Secretary to assign load lines indicating the minimum safe freeboard to which a vessel may be loaded. It also authorizes the Secretary to assign a load line that results in a freeboard that is greater than the minimum freeboard, if the owner requests.

Section 5104(b) sets forth guidelines that the Secretary must consider when assigning load lines on vessels.

Section 5104(c) allows an existing vessel to retain its load line assigned before January 1, 1986, unless the Secretary decides that a change made in the vessel requires the assignment of a new load line.

Section 5104(d) is a new provision that requires that a vessel comply with all the provisions of this chapter before the Secretary will consider a reduction in its minimum freeboard. This provision is similar to Article 4(4) of the International Convention on Load Lines.

Section 5104(e) is a new provision that authorized the Secretary to designate specific geographic areas having relatively non-severe weather or sea conditions and from which there is adequate time to return to safe harbors. Section 5104(e) also authorizes the Secretary to reduce the minimum freeboard of vessels operating in these areas. Regulations that have been issued under this authority (46 C.F.R. 44) authorize special service load lines for vessels operating not more than 20 nautical miles offshore or between islands in a group.

Publication Title United States Code, 2012 Edition, Supplement 4, Title 46 - SHIPPING
Category Bills and Statutes
Collection United States Code
SuDoc Class Number Y 1.2/5:
Contained Within Title 46 - SHIPPING
Subtitle II - Vessels and Seamen
Part C - Load Lines of Vessels
CHAPTER 51 - LOAD LINES
Sec. 5104 - Assignment of load lines
Contains section 5104
Date 2016
Laws In Effect As Of Date January 6, 2017
Positive Law Yes
Disposition standard
Statutes at Large Reference 100 Stat. 1915
Public Law References Public Law 99-509
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