Executive Agreement Series No. 40
The American Ambassador in Belgium (Gibson) to the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hymans)1
Mr. Minister: I have the honor to refer to Your Excellency’s note of March 31, 1931,2 (Direction Générale B., Section I.B./Communications, No. C.24/1081) pertaining to the conclusion between the Governments of Belgium and the United States of a reciprocal agreement concerning ship load lines.
Pursuant to instructions from my Government, I now have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the substance of this note and the text of the excerpt of the Belgian law of August 25, 1920, submitted therewith, have been examined by the competent authorities of my Government.
In answer to the inquiry whether the American Government does not share the view of the Belgian Minister of Transports that the reciprocal agreement concerning the inspection of vessels, existing between the two countries since June 1, 1922,3 would be applicable to the control of load lines, I have the honor to inform Your Excellency that the competent authorities of my Government do not believe that this agreement could be interpreted to cover load lines, and that they consider it would be preferable to negotiate a separate arrangement.
The Government of the United States has taken due notice of the Belgian law which provides that “the freeboard of vessels shall be determined in accordance with the rules and freeboard tables of the French Bureau Veritas or of Lloyds Registry of Shipping, or in accordance with rules and tables recognized as equivalent thereto.”[Page 135]
In connection with this provision, my Government is willing to conclude a reciprocal agreement in regard to load lines with the Government of Belgium with the understanding that the rules and freeboard tables employed by the French Bureau Veritas and by Lloyds Registry of Shipping are the freeboard rules and tables of the French Government and the 1906 rules of the British Board of Trade, respectively.
Subject to the above understanding the Government of the United States is prepared to agree that pending the coming into force of the International Load Line Convention of 1930,4 in the United States and Belgium, the competent authorities of the Government of the United States will recognize the load line marks and the certificate of such marking on the merchant vessels of Belgium made in accordance with either of the foregoing systems of rules and tables as equivalent to load line marks and certificates of such markings made pursuant to the laws and regulations of the United States; provided, that the load line marks are in accordance with the load line certificates; that the hull and superstructure of the vessel certificated have not been so materially altered since the issuance of the certificate as to affect the calculations on which the load line was based; and that alterations have not [been] made so that the—
- Protection of openings,
- Guard Rails,
- Freeing Ports,
- Means of Access to Crews Quarters,
have made the vessel manifestly unfit to proceed to sea without danger to human life.
It will be understood by this Government that on the receipt by the Embassy of a note from Your Excellency to the effect that the competent authorities of the Belgian Government will recognize the load line marks and certificates thereof on merchant vessels of the United States, executed pursuant to the laws and regulations of this Government, as equivalent to load line marks and certificates made in accordance with the laws and regulations in force in Belgium, and expressing the Belgian Government’s concurrence in this Government’s understanding as above set forth, the agreement will become effective.
I avail myself [etc.]