What is Timber load line on ships and its details?

Timber Load Lines

Special timber load lines can be used only when a ship carrying a cargo of timber on deck complies with the Load Line Rules. For the carriage of timber as deck cargo, the IMOCode of Practice for Timber Deck Cargoes must be followed.

The practical applications

The provisions contained in the IMO Code are recommended for all vessels of 24m or more in length engaged in the carriage of ‘timber deck cargoes’ – a phrase defined as meaning a timber cargo carried on an uncovered part of a freeboard or superstructure deck, and includes logs and sawn timber whether loose or packaged. Basically, the following factors need to be considered:

  • Type and compactness of timber cargo. Example:  logs, cants, ragged end packages, square (or flush) both ends, etc.
  • Type of vessel – timber load line or not.
  • Strength, pitch and tending of lashings.
  • Height of cargo and stability considerations.
  • Measures to deliberately jettison cargo.
  • Keeping clear all sounding and air pipes necessary for the working of the ship, ensuring means of safe access to all parts of the ship, keeping cargo hold ventilators clear for operation.
  • ‘Under-deck’ and ‘on-deck’ bills of lading.
  • Hatchcovers and other openings below decks should be securely closed and battened down.
  • Hatches and decks, and the cargo itself, should be kept free of any accumulations of ice and snow.
  • All deck lashings, uprights, etc, in position before loading commences.
  • The cargo must not interfere in any way with the navigation or necessary working of the ship.


During the winter season the height of the timber deck cargo above the weather deck may not exceed one third of the extreme breadth of the ship. At other times the regulations do not prescribe any limit. The deck load may be built up to any height, consistent, of course, with the general requirements of safety and stability, and must not exceed the designed maximum permissible load on the weather decks and hatches.

The height of the deck cargo should be restricted so that the visibility from the navigation bridge is not impaired and any forward facing profile of the timber cargo on deck does not present overhanging shoulders to a head sea.

Ship’s personnel must also be protected and, if timber cargo is carried on deck, guard rails or guard lines must be provided on each side of the deck cargo, together with a lifeline to allow the crew to move along the surface of the timber over the length of the ship. The IMO “Code of Safe Practice for Ships Carrying Timber Deck Cargoes” contains many more guidelines, all aimed at overall safety.

About the author

Manish Mayank

Graduated from M.E.R.I. (Mumbai). A cool, calm, composed and the brain behind the development of the database. The strong will to contribute in maritime education and to present it in completely different and innovative way is his source of inspiration.

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