Admiralty: see maritime law: (U.S. S. Ct., 25.06.09, Atlantic Sounding Co. v. Townsend, J. Thomas).
Admiralty: definition of a vessel: floating home: petitioner Lozman’s floating home was a house-like plywood structure with empty bilge space underneath the main floor to keep it afloat. He had it towed several times before deciding on a marina owned by the city of Riviera Beach (City). After various disputes with Lozman and unsuccessful efforts to evict him from the marina, the City brought a federal admiralty lawsuit in rem against the floating home, seeking a lien for dockage fees and damages for trespass; District Court found the floating home to be a “vessel” under the Rules of Construction Act, which defines a “vessel” as including “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” 1 U. S. C. §3, concluded that admiralty jurisdiction was proper, and awarded the City dockage fees and nominal damages. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, agreeing that the home was a “vessel” since it was “capable” of movement over water despite petitioner’s subjective intent to remain moored indefinitely.
Lozman’s floating home is not a §3 “vessel.”
The Eleventh Circuit found the home “capable of being used . . . as a means of transportation on water” because it could float and proceed under tow and its shore connections did not render it incapable of transportation. This interpretation is too broad. The definition of “transportation,” the conveyance of persons or things from one place to another, must be applied in a practical way. Stewart v. Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U. S. 481, 496. Consequently, a structure does not fall within the scope of the statutory phrase unless a reasonable observer, looking to the home’s physical characteristics and activities, would consider it designed to a practical degree for carrying people or things over water; but for the fact that it floats, nothing about Lozman’s home suggests that it was designed to any practical degree to transport persons or things over water. It had no steering mechanism, had an unraked hull and rectangular bottom 10 inches below the water, and had no capacity to generate or store electricity. It also lacked self propulsion, differing significantly from an ordinary houseboat; this view of the statute is consistent with its text, precedent, and relevant purposes. The statute’s language, read naturally, lends itself to that interpretation: the term “contrivance” refers to something “employed in contriving to effect a purpose”; “craft” explains that purpose as “water carriage and transport”; the addition of “water” to “craft” emphasizes the point; and the words, “used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” drive the point home; further, the purposes of major federal maritime statutes—e.g., admiralty provisions provide special attachment procedures lest a vessel avoid liability by sailing away, recognize that sailors face special perils at sea, and encourage shipowners to engage in port-related commerce—reveal little reason to classify floating homes as “vessels.” (U.S. S. Ct., 15.01.13, Lozman v. Riviera Beach, J. Breyer).
Admiralty : définition d'un vaisseau : habitation flottante : application de la loi fédérale sur les règles d'interprétation : l'habitation flottante n'est en l'espèce pas un vaisseau au sens de la loi : une structure flottante ne sera pas qualifiée de vaisseau si un observateur raisonnable, regardant les caractéristiques physiques et les activités de la structure flottante, ne peut la considérer comme construite en pratique pour transporter sur l'eau des personnes ou des objets. L'habitation flottante n'est en l'espèce pas un vaisseau, s'agissant d'une structure dépourvue de gouvernail, de capacités électriques et de moyen de propulsion. De plus, le but des principales lois fédérales régissant le droit maritime prévoit des procédures de gage spéciales par crainte de voir le navire prendre la fuite, et reconnaît que les marins font face en mer à des périls spéciaux. Ce droit encourage les propriétaires de navires à entreprendre des activités commerciales liées à des infrastructures portuaires. Ainsi, de manière générale, il n'est guère envisageable de classifier les habitations flottantes dans la catégorie des vaisseaux.