The British Embassy to the Department of State 30


In view of the urgent need for additional cargo-carrying capacity during the present emergency, His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom have been investigating the possibility of requiring cargo-carrying ships, including tankers, to load more deeply than is now allowed under the International Load Line Convention. After confidential consultation with the British interests concerned, including representatives of the shipowners and ships’ crews and the ship classification societies the United Kingdom authorities are satisfied that deeper loading within the limits indicated in the following paragraph can with advantage be permitted except in the case of ships where the classification societies which assign load-lines consider that deeper loading would not be warranted by the condition of the ship’s structure or would be prejudicial to the seaworthiness of the ship.

It is proposed that ships should load
to their tropical marks instead of their summer marks when the latter are applicable under existing rules;
to the fresh water tropical marks instead of the existing tropical marks when the latter are applicable under existing rules.
These arrangements would be indicated on the load-line certificate of each ship in an endorsement by the assigning authority, who would also have the right to require structural alterations, for example for the purpose of improving the protection of hatchways, if considered necessary as a condition of deeper loading in any particular case.
The effect of deeper loading in accordance with the preceding paragraph, on the liability of ships to damage and on their general efficiency would be watched during the remainder of the summer, in order to decide whether loading to the summer load-line during the next winter season could be permitted.
The foregoing proposals would not apply to ships which have already had their tonnage openings closed and their free boards reduced by amounts not exceeding twelve inches, unless the classification society assigning the load-line were satisfied that deeper loading would be justified by the condition of the ship’s structure and would not be prejudicial to the seaworthiness of the ship.
It is of course appreciated that deeper loading as described in the second paragraph of this Aide-Mémoire would not be in accordance with the International Load-Line Convention, but His Majesty’s Government venture to think that it would be fully justified by present circumstances. The convention was signed in London in 1930 by the representatives of thirty nations, in a time of peace, with no threat or thought of war. It was essentially a peace-time agreement, designed to regulate the loading of ships in international trade under conditions which would permit a normal flow of commerce amongst all nations. It was not designed to meet conditions created by a world-wide and ruthless war, carried out with the utter disregard of Treaty obligations and the rules of war which marks the conduct of some of the belligerent countries whose governments were parties to the convention. Some of the other countries whose governments were also parties to the convention have been conquered or destroyed by these same belligerents. Thus the state of things which was assumed at the time of the signature of the convention no longer exists. In these circumstances, His Majesty’s Government feel that the purpose of the agreement has been rendered impossible of attainment, and they therefore propose that it be regarded as inoperative during the continuance of the war. They trust that in the special circumstances the United States Government will feel able to share this view.
His Majesty’s Governments in the Dominions which are parties to the convention are being informed of this communication and are being invited to concur in the proposal which it contains.
  1. Marginal notation by Green H. Hackworth, Legal Adviser of the Department: “Ans[wer] not necessary. Matter discussed with Messrs. Maclay and Hayter of the Br. Embassy 7/9/41 and telegrams sent to London, Havana, etc. 7/10/41. G. H. H.”