Plimsoll mark (Plimsoll line)

(shipping) A horizontal load line (or set of horizontal load line markings) painted on the hull of an ocean-going cargo vessel that shows where the waterline is when the vessel is at full capacity. The term is named for Samuel Plimsoll, who as a member of the British Parliament, instigated the passage of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1875 which required the marking of a load line on all merchant ships. Plimsoll was a lone reformer who was vilified in the press, but persevered to end the practice of unscrupulous merchants deliberately launching overloaded “coffin ships” which were intended to sink in order that the owner could collect insurance. The technical term is the international load line. See draft or draught.

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