Executive Agreement Series No. 40
The Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Hymans) to the American Chargé in Belgium (Mayer) 5
Section I.B., Comm.
Sir: I did not fail to inform the Minister for Transportation of the contents of the Embassy’s note of October 7th last, No. 708, concerning the negotiation between the two countries of a temporary agreement on load line regulations of vessels.
I have the honor to inform you that the regulations and tables of load lines which are mentioned in article 161 of the royal decree of November 8, 1920, constituting a ruling for the application of the law concerning the safety of vessels, are the regulations and tables of load lines of the French Government as given by the Veritas Bureau and the rules of 1906 of the British Board of Trade as given in “Lloyd’s Register of Shipping.”
As the Government of the United States feels that it cannot assent to the proposal that has been submitted to it, of applying in the matter of load line regulations the reciprocity agreement concerning the safety of vessels, concluded in 1922, the Government of the King accepts the arrangement proposed by the Government of the United States.
This arrangement will have, therefore, a temporary character and is destined to come to an end as soon as the two Governments shall have ratified the International Agreement concerning load lines and as soon as this Agreement shall come into force.
The Government of the King declares, consequently, that as a measure of reciprocity corresponding to the measures stated by the American Government, the Belgian Government will, in the interim before the enforcement in the United States and in Belgium of the International Agreement on load lines, of July 5, 1930, and with the exception of the conditions set forth below, permit competent authorities of the Belgian Government to recognize the marks of the load lines and the certificates of these lines for merchant vessels under the United States flag, when these are established in conformity with the laws and regulations in force in the United States, as being equivalent [Page 137] to the marks of the load lines and the certificates of these lines established in conformity with Belgian law.
This recognition is subject to the following conditions:
- The marks of the load lines shall correspond to the certificates of the load lines.
- Alterations of sufficient importance to affect the calculations on which the load line was based shall not have been made since the issuance of the certificate to the hull and to the superstructure of the vessel concerned.
- The alterations made shall not be of such a nature that the protection of openings, handrails, cargo ports, means of access to the crew’s stations, shall render the vessel manifestly unfit to go to sea without danger to human life.
The Belgian Maritime Inspection Service has been notified of the present arrangement and instructed to observe it henceforth.
It is appropriate to point out that the correspondence exchanged on the subject discussed above, precedes the royal decree of September 14, 1931, which allows Belgian shipowners to obtain for their vessels the load line established in conformity with the ruling forming an annex to the International Load Line Agreement signed at London on July 5, 1930; thus this royal decree introduces into this question a new element which it has been impossible to take into consideration.
But this circumstance is not of a character to affect the proposed arrangement since the American ruling on load lines is identical with the ruling forming an annex to the agreement above mentioned.
Since the Government of the United States is disposed to recognize the load lines of Belgian vessels assigned according to the old regulations, the Government of the King takes it for granted that the Government of the United States will likewise recognize the load line assigned according to the conditions provided in the new Belgian ruling in this matter. The Government of the King considers it opportune, however, again to call the attention of the Government of the United States to the fact that, in accordance with this latter regulation, the assignment of load lines consists of the letters B.I. when the load line is established by the official Belgian authorities qualified for this purpose.
I have the honor to forward to you in this connection 3 copies of the royal decree of September 14, 1931,6 as well as 3 copies of the official form of load line certificate used by the Belgian Maritime Inspection Service.6
I should appreciate your addressing me a letter stating the assent of the Government of the United States to the present arrangement.[Page 138]
The date of this communication could be considered as signifying the coming into force of the arrangement.
Be so kind as to accept [etc.]
The Director General