A ship's hull form helps determine most of its main attributes; its stability characteristics; its resistance and therefore the power needed for a given speed; its seaworthiness; its manoeuvrability and its load carrying capacity. It is important, therefore, that the hull shape should be defined with some precision and unambiguously. To achieve this the basic descriptors used must be defined. Not all authorities use the same definitions and it is important that the reader of a document checks upon the exact definitions applying. Those used in this chapter cover those used by Lloyd's Register and the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence. Most are internationally accepted. Standard units and notation are discussed in Appendix A.

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