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Sunday, February 10, 2013

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. Lozman moved to dismiss the suit for lack of admiralty jurisdiction. The 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. Held: 1. This case is not moot. The District Court ordered the floating home sold, and the City purchased the home at auction and had it destroyed. Before the sale, the court ordered the City to post a bond to ensure Lozman could obtain monetary relief if he prevailed. P. 3. 2. Lozman’s floating home is not a §3 “vessel.” Pp. 3–15. (a) 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 2 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH Syllabus 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. Pp. 3–5. (b) 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 selfpropulsion, differing significantly from an ordinary houseboat. Pp. 5–6. (c) 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. Both Evansville & Bowling Green Packet Co. v. Chero Cola Bottling Co., 271 U. S. 19, and Stewart, supra, support this conclusion. Evansville involved a wharfboat floated next to a dock, used to transfer cargo, and towed to harbor each winter; and Stewart involved a dredge used to remove silt from the ocean floor, which carried a captain and crew and could be navigated only by manipulating anchors and cables or by being towed. Water transportation was not the primary purpose of either structure; neither was in motion at relevant times; and both were sometimes attached to the ocean bottom or to land. However, Stewart’s dredge, which was regularly, but not primarily, used to transport workers and equipment over water, fell within the statutory definition while Evansville’s wharfboat, which was not designed to, and did not, serve a transportation function, did not. Lower court cases, on balance, also tend to support this conclusion. 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.” Finally, this conclusion is consistent with state laws in States where floating home owners have congregated in communities. Pp. 6–11. (d) Several important arguments made by the City and its amici are unavailing. They argue that a purpose-based test may introduce a subjective element into “vessel” determinations. But the Court has Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013) 3 Syllabus considered only objective evidence, looking to the views of a reasonable observer and the physical attributes and behavior of the structure. They also argue against using criteria that are too abstract, complex, or open-ended. While this Court’s approach is neither perfectly precise nor always determinative, it is workable and consistent and should offer guidance in a significant number of borderline cases. And contrary to the dissent’s suggestion, the Court sees nothing to be gained by a remand. Pp. 11–14. (e) The City’s additional argument that Lozman’s floating home was actually used for transportation over water is similarly unpersuasive. P. 14. 649 F. 3d 1259, reversed.


 
 
 
(Slip Opinion)  OCTOBER TERM, 2012  1
Syllabus
NOTE: Where it is feasible, a syllabus (headnote) will be released, as is
being done in connection with this case, at the time the opinion is issued.
The syllabus constitutes no part of the opinion of the Court but has been
prepared by the Reporter of Decisions for the convenience of the reader.
See United States v. Detroit Timber & Lumber Co., 200 U. S. 321, 337.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
Syllabus
LOZMAN v. CITY OF RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA
CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR
THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT
No. 11–626. Argued October 1, 2012—Decided January 15, 2013
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.  Lozman
moved to dismiss the suit for lack of admiralty jurisdiction.  The 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.
Held:
1. This case is not moot. The District Court ordered the floating
home sold, and the City purchased the home at auction and had it
destroyed.  Before the sale, the court ordered the City to post a bond
to ensure Lozman could obtain monetary relief if he prevailed.  P. 3.
2. Lozman’s floating home is not a §3 “vessel.”  Pp. 3–15.
(a) 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  
 
 
 
 
2  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Syllabus
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.  Pp. 3–5.
(b) 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 selfpropulsion, differing significantly  from an ordinary houseboat.
Pp. 5–6.
(c) 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. Both  Evansville & Bowling Green Packet Co. v.  Chero Cola
Bottling Co., 271 U. S. 19, and Stewart, supra, support this conclusion.  Evansville involved a wharfboat floated next to a dock, used to
transfer cargo, and towed to harbor each winter; and  Stewart involved a dredge used to remove silt from the ocean floor, which carried a captain and crew and could be navigated only by manipulating
anchors and cables or by being towed.  Water transportation was not
the primary purpose of either structure; neither was in motion at relevant times; and both were sometimes attached to the ocean bottom
or to land. However, Stewart’s dredge, which was regularly, but not
primarily, used to transport workers and equipment over water, fell
within the statutory definition while  Evansville’s wharfboat, which
was not designed to, and did not, serve a transportation function, did
not.  Lower court cases, on balance, also tend to support this conclusion. 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.”
Finally, this conclusion is consistent with state laws in States where
floating home owners have congregated in communities.  Pp. 6–11.
(d) Several important arguments made by the City and its amici
are unavailing. They argue that a purpose-based test may introduce
a subjective element into “vessel” determinations.  But the Court has  
Cite as:  568 U. S. ____ (2013)  3
Syllabus
considered only objective evidence, looking to the views of a reasonable observer and the physical attributes and behavior of the structure.  They also argue against using criteria that are too abstract,
complex, or open-ended.  While this Court’s approach is neither perfectly precise nor always determinative, it is workable and consistent
and should offer guidance in a significant number of borderline cases.
And contrary to the dissent’s suggestion, the Court sees nothing to be
gained by a remand.  Pp. 11–14.
(e) The City’s additional argument that Lozman’s floating home
was  actually  used for transportation over water is similarly unpersuasive.  P. 14.
649 F. 3d 1259, reversed.
BREYER,  J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS,
C. J., and SCALIA, THOMAS, GINSBURG, ALITO, and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
SOTOMAYOR, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KENNEDY, J., joined.  
 
_________________
_________________
 
 
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  1
Opinion of the Court
NOTICE: This opinion is subject to formal revision before publication in the
preliminary print of the United States Reports. Readers are requested to
notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, D. C. 20543, of any typographical or other formal errors, in order
that corrections may be made before the preliminary print goes to press.
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
No. 11–626
FANE LOZMAN, PETITIONER v. THE CITY OF

RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF
APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

[January 15, 2013]
 JUSTICE BREYER delivered the opinion of the Court.
The Rules of Construction Act defines a “vessel” as in-
cluding “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. The question before
us is whether petitioner’s floating home (which is not selfpropelled) falls within the terms of that definition.
In answering that question we focus primarily upon the
phrase “capable of being used.” This term encompasses
“practical” possibilities, not “merely . . . theoretical” ones.
Stewart v.  Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U. S. 481, 496 (2005).
We believe that a reasonable observer, looking to the
home’s physical characteristics and activities, would not
consider it to be designed to any practical degree for carrying people or things on water. And we consequently conclude that the floating home is not a “vessel.”
I
In 2002 Fane Lozman, petitioner, bought a 60-foot by
12-foot floating home. App. 37, 71.  The home consisted of
a house-like plywood structure with French doors on three
sides.  Id., at 38, 44.  It contained a sitting room, bedroom,  
 
2  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
closet, bathroom, and kitchen, along with a stairway
leading to a second level with office space.  Id., at 45–66.
An empty bilge space underneath the main floor kept it
afloat.  Id., at 38. (See Appendix, infra, for a photograph.)
After buying the floating home, Lozman had it towed
about 200 miles to North Bay Village, Florida, where he
moored it and then twice more had it towed between
nearby marinas. In 2006 Lozman had the home towed a
further 70 miles to a marina owned by the city of Riviera
Beach (City), respondent, where he kept it docked.  Brief
for Respondent 5.
After various disputes with Lozman and unsuccessful
efforts to evict him from the marina, the City brought
this federal admiralty lawsuit in rem against the floating
home.  It sought a maritime lien for dockage fees and
damages for trespass. See Federal Maritime Lien Act, 46
U. S. C. §31342 (authorizing federal maritime lien against
vessel to collect debts owed for the provision of “necessaries to a vessel”); 28 U. S. C. §1333(1) (civil admiralty
jurisdiction). See also  Leon v.  Galceran, 11 Wall. 185
(1871); The Rock Island Bridge, 6 Wall. 213, 215 (1867).
 Lozman, acting pro se, asked the District Court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the court lacked admiralty jurisdiction.  See 2 Record, Doc. 64.  After summary
judgment proceedings, the court found that the floating
home was a “vessel” and concluded that admiralty jurisdiction was consequently proper.  Pet. for Cert. 42a. The
judge then conducted a bench trial on the merits and
awarded the City $3,039.88 for dockage along with $1 in
nominal damages for trespass.  Id., at 49a.
On appeal the Eleventh Circuit affirmed.  Riviera Beach
v. That Certain Unnamed Gray, Two-Story Vessel Approximately Fifty-Seven Feet in Length, 649 F. 3d 1259 (2011).
It agreed with the District Court that the home was a
“vessel.” In its view, the home was “capable” of movement
over water and the owner’s subjective intent to remain Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  3
Opinion of the Court
moored “indefinitely” at a dock could not show the con-
trary.  Id., at 1267–1269.
Lozman sought certiorari.  In light of uncertainty among
the Circuits about application of the term “capable” we
granted his petition.  Compare De La Rosa v. St. Charles
Gaming Co.,  474 F. 3d 185, 187 (CA5 2006) (structure is
not a “vessel” where “physically,” but only “theoretical[ly],”
“capable of sailing,” and owner intends to moor it indef-
initely as floating casino), with  Board of Comm’rs of Orleans Levee Dist. v. M/V Belle of Orleans, 535 F. 3d 1299,
1311–1312 (CA11 2008) (structure is a “vessel” where
capable of moving over water under tow, “albeit to her
detriment,” despite intent to moor indefinitely).  See also
649 F. 3d, at 1267 (rejecting views of Circuits that “‘focus
on the intent of the shipowner’”).
II
At the outset we consider one threshold matter.  The
District Court ordered the floating home sold to satisfy
the City’s judgment. The City bought the home at public
auction and subsequently had it destroyed.  And, after the
parties filed their merits briefs, we ordered further briefing on the question of mootness in light of the home’s
destruction. 567 U. S. ___ (2012). The parties now have
pointed out that, prior to the home’s sale, the District
Court ordered the City to post a $25,000 bond “to secure
Mr. Lozman’s value in the vessel.” 1 Record, Doc. 20, p. 2.
The bond ensures that Lozman can obtain monetary relief
if he ultimately prevails.  We consequently agree with the
parties that the case is not moot.
III

A
We focus primarily upon the statutory phrase “capable
of being used . . . as a means of transportation on water.”
1 U. S. C. §3.  The Court of Appeals found that the home  
 
 
 
 
4  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
was “capable” of transportation because it could float, it
could proceed under tow, and its shore connections (power
cable, water hose, rope lines) did not “ ‘rende[r]’” it “‘practically incapable of transportation or movement.’” 649
F. 3d, at 1266 (quoting  Belle of Orleans,  supra, at 1312,
in turn quoting Stewart, 543 U. S.,  at 494).  At least for
argument’s sake we agree with the Court of Appeals about
the last-mentioned point, namely that Lozman’s shore
connections did not “‘render’” the home “‘practically incapable of transportation.’”  But unlike the Eleventh Circuit,
we do not find these considerations (even when combined
with the home’s other characteristics) sufficient to show
that Lozman’s home was a “vessel.”
The Court of Appeals recognized that it had applied
the term “capable” broadly. 649 F. 3d, at 1266.  Indeed,
it pointed with approval to language in an earlier case,
Burks v. American River Transp. Co., 679 F. 2d 69 (1982),
in which the Fifth Circuit said:
“‘No doubt the three men in a tub would also fit within our definition, and one probably could make a convincing case for Jonah inside the whale.’” 649 F. 3d,
at 1269 (brackets omitted) (quoting  Burks,  supra, at
75).
But the Eleventh Circuit’s interpretation is too broad.  Not
every floating structure is a “vessel.”  To state the obvious,
a wooden washtub, a plastic dishpan, a swimming platform on pontoons, a large fishing net, a door taken off
its hinges, or Pinocchio (when inside the whale) are not
“vessels,” even if they are “artificial contrivance[s]” capable
of floating, moving under tow, and incidentally carrying
even a  fair-sized item or two when they do so. Rather, the
statute applies to an “artificial contrivance . . . capable of
being used . . . as a means of transportation on water.”  1
U. S. C. §3 (emphasis added).  “[T]ransportation” involves
the “conveyance (of things or persons) from one place to  
 
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  5
Opinion of the Court
another.” 18 Oxford English Dictionary 424 (2d ed. 1989)
(OED).  Accord, N. Webster, An American Dictionary of
the English Language 1406 (C. Goodrich & N. Porter
eds. 1873) (“[t]he act of transporting, carrying, or conveying
from one place to another”).  And we must apply this
definition in a “practical,” not a “theoretical,” way.  Stewart, supra, at 496.  Consequently, in our view a structure
does not fall within the scope of this statutory phrase
unless a reasonable observer, looking to the home’s phys-
ical characteristics and activities, would consider it designed to a practical degree for carrying people or things
over water.
B
Though our criterion is general, the facts of this case
illustrate more specifically what we have in mind.  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 rudder
or other steering mechanism. 649 F. 3d, at 1269.  Its hull
was unraked,  ibid., and it had a rectangular bottom 10
inches below the water.  Brief for Petitioner 27; App. 37.
It had no special capacity to generate or store electricity
but could obtain that utility only through ongoing connections with the land.  Id., at 40. Its small rooms looked like
ordinary nonmaritime living quarters. And those inside
those rooms looked out upon the world, not through watertight portholes, but through French doors or ordinary
windows.  Id., at 44–66.
Although lack of self-propulsion is not dispositive,  e.g.,
The Robert W. Parsons, 191 U. S. 17, 31 (1903), it may be
a relevant physical characteristic.  And Lozman’s home
differs significantly from an ordinary houseboat in that it
has no ability to propel itself. Cf. 33 CFR §173.3 (2012)
(“Houseboat means a  motorized vessel . . . designed primarily for multi-purpose accommodation spaces with low  
6  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
freeboard and little or no foredeck or cockpit” (emphasis
added)). Lozman’s home was able to travel over water
only by being towed. Prior to its arrest, that home’s travel
by tow over water took place on only four occasions over a
period of seven years.  Supra, at 2.  And when the home
was towed a significant distance in 2006, the towing company had a second boat follow behind to prevent the home
from swinging dangerously from side to side.  App. 104.
The home has no other feature that might suggest a
design to transport over water anything other than its
own furnishings and related personal effects.  In a word,
we can find nothing about the home that could lead a
reasonable observer to consider it designed to a practical
degree for “transportation on water.”
C
Our view of the statute is consistent with its text, precedent, and relevant purposes.  For one thing, the statute’s
language, read naturally, lends  itself to that interpretation. We concede that the statute uses the word “every,”
referring to “every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance.” 1 U. S. C. §3 (emphasis added).  But
the term “contrivance” refers to “something contrived for,
or employed in contriving to effect a purpose.” 3 OED 850
(def. 7). The term “craft” explains that purpose as “water
carriage and transport.”   Id.,  at 1104 (def. V(9)(b)) (de-
fining “craft” as a “vesse[l] . . . for” that purpose). The addition of the word “water” to “craft,” yielding the term
“watercraft,” emphasizes the point.  And the next few words,
“used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation on water,” drive the point home.
For another thing, the bulk of precedent supports our
conclusion. In Evansville & Bowling Green Packet Co. v.
Chero Cola Bottling Co., 271 U. S. 19 (1926), the Court
held that a wharfboat was not a “vessel.”  The wharfboat
floated next to a dock; it was used to transfer cargo from  
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  7
Opinion of the Court
ship to dock and ship to ship; and it was connected to the
dock with cables, utility lines, and a ramp.  Id., at 21.  At
the same time, it was capable of being towed.  And it
was towed each winter to a harbor to avoid river ice.  Id.,
at 20–21. The Court reasoned that, despite the annual
movement under tow, the wharfboat “was not used to
carry freight from one place to another,” nor did it “encounter perils of navigation to which craft used for transportation are exposed.”   Id., at 22.  (See Appendix, infra,
for photograph of a period wharfboat).
The Court’s reasoning in  Stewart  also supports our
conclusion.  We there considered the application of the
statutory definition to a dredge.  543 U. S., at 494.  The
dredge was “a massive floating platform” from which a
suspended clamshell bucket would “remov[e] silt from the
ocean floor,” depositing it “onto one of two scows” floating
alongside the dredge.  Id., at 484.  Like more traditional
“seagoing vessels,” the dredge had,  e.g., “a captain and
crew, navigational lights, ballast tanks, and a crew dining
area.”  Ibid.  Unlike more ordinary vessels, it could navigate only by “manipulating its anchors and cables” or by
being towed.  Ibid. Nonetheless it did move. In fact it
moved over water “every couple of hours.”  Id., at 485.
We held that the dredge was a “vessel.”  We wrote that
§3’s definition “merely codified the meaning that the term
‘vessel’ had acquired in general maritime law.”  Id., at 490.
We added that the question of the “watercraft’s use ‘as a
means of transportation on water’ is . . . practical,” and not
“merely . . . theoretical.”   Id., at 496.  And we pointed to
cases holding that dredges ordinarily “served a waterborne
transportation function,” namely that “in performing their
work they carried machinery, equipment, and crew over
water.”  Id., at 491–492 (citing,  e.g.,  Butler  v.  Ellis, 45
F. 2d 951, 955 (CA4 1930)).
As the Court of Appeals pointed out, in Stewart we also
wrote that §3 “does not require that a watercraft be used  
 
8  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
primarily  for that [transportation] purpose,” 543 U. S.,
at 495; that a “watercraft need not be in motion to qualify
as a vessel,” ibid.; and that a structure may qualify as a
vessel even if attached—but not “permanently” attached—
to the land or ocean floor.   Id.,  at 493–494. We did not
take these statements, however, as implying a universal
set of sufficient conditions for application of the definition.
Rather, they say, and they mean, that the statutory definition may (or may not) apply—not that it  automatically
must  apply—where a structure has some other  primary
purpose, where it is stationary at relevant times, and
where it is attached—but not permanently attached—to
land.
After all, a washtub is normally not a “vessel” though it
does not have water transportation as its primary purpose, it may be stationary much of the time, and it might
be attached—but not permanently attached—to land.
More to the point, water transportation was not the  primary purpose  of either  Stewart’s  dredge or  Evansville’s
wharfboat; neither structure was “in motion” at relevant
times; and both were sometimes attached (though not
permanently attached) to the ocean bottom or to land.
Nonetheless  Stewart’s  dredge  fell within the statute’s
definition while Evansville’s wharfboat did not.
The basic difference, we believe, is that the dredge was
regularly, but not primarily, used (and designed in part to
be used) to transport workers and equipment over water
while the wharfboat was not designed (to any practical
degree) to serve a transportation function and did not do
so. Compare Cope v. Vallette Dry Dock Co., 119 U. S. 625
(1887) (floating drydock not a “vessel” because permanently
fixed to wharf), with  Jerome B. Grubart, Inc. v.  Great
Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U. S. 527, 535 (1995) (barge
sometimes attached to river bottom to use as a work platform remains a “vessel” when “at other times it was used
for transportation”).  See  also ibid.  (citing  Great Lakes Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  9
Opinion of the Court
Dredge & Dock Co. v. Chicago, 3 F. 3d 225, 229 (CA7 1993)
(“[A] craft is a ‘vessel’ if its purpose is to some reasonable
degree ‘the transportation of passengers, cargo, or equipment from place to place across navigable waters’”)); Cope,
supra, at 630 (describing “hopper-barge,” as potentially
a “vessel” because it is a “navigable structure[,] used for
the purpose of transportation”); cf. 1 Benedict on Admiralty
§164, p. 10–6 (7th rev. ed. 2012) (maritime jurisdiction
proper if “the craft is a navigable structure intended for
maritime transportation”).
Lower court cases also tend, on balance, to support our
conclusion. See, e.g., Bernard v. Binnings Constr. Co., 741
F. 2d 824, 828, n. 13, 832, n. 25 (CA5 1984) (work punt
lacking features objectively indicating a transportation
function not a “vessel,” for “our decisions make clear that
the mere capacity to float or move across navigable waters
does not necessarily make a structure a vessel”);  Ruddiman v. A Scow Platform, 38 F. 158 (SDNY 1889) (scow,
though “capable of being towed . . . though not without
some difficulty, from its clumsy structure” just a floating
box, not a “vessel,” because “it was not designed or used
for the purpose of navigation,” not engaged “in the transportation of persons or cargo,” and had “no motive power,
no rudder, no sails”).  See also 1 T. Schoenbaum, Admiralty and Maritime Law §3–6, p. 155 (5th ed. 2011) (courts
have found that “floating dry-dock[s],” “floating platforms,
barges, or rafts used for construction or repair of piers,
docks, bridges, pipelines and other” similar facilities are
not “vessels”); E. Benedict, American Admiralty §215,
p. 116 (3d rev. ed. 1898) (defining “vessel” as a “‘machine
adapted to transportation over rivers, seas, and oceans’”).
We recognize that some lower court opinions can be read
as endorsing the “anything that floats” approach.  See
Miami River Boat Yard, Inc. v.  60’ Houseboat, 390 F. 2d
596, 597 (CA5 1968)  (so-called “houseboat” lacking selfpropulsion); Sea Village Marina, LLC v. A 1980 Carlcraft  
 
10 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
Houseboat, No. 09–3292, 2009 WL 3379923, *5–*6 (D NJ,
Oct. 19, 2009) (following Miami River Boat Yard); Hudson
Harbor 79th Street Boat Basin, Inc. v.  Sea Casa, 469 F.
Supp. 987, 989 (SDNY 1979) (same).  Cf. Holmes v. Atlantic Sounding Co., 437 F. 3d 441 (CA5 2006) (floating dormitory);  Summerlin  v.  Massman Constr. Co., 199 F. 2d
715 (CA4 1952) (derrick anchored in the river engaged in
building a bridge is a vessel). For the reasons we have
stated, we find such an approach inappropriate and inconsistent with our precedents.
Further, our examination of the purposes of major federal maritime statutes reveals little reason to classify
floating homes as “vessels.” Admiralty law, for example,
provides special attachment procedures lest a vessel avoid
liability by sailing away. 46 U. S. C. §§31341–31343 (2006
ed. and Supp. IV). Liability statutes such as the Jones Act
recognize that sailors face the special “‘perils of the sea.’”
Chandris, Inc. v.  Latsis, 515 U. S. 347, 354, 373 (1995)
(referring to “‘vessel[s] in navigation’”).  Certain admiralty
tort doctrines can encourage shipowners to engage in
port-related commerce.  E.g., 46 U. S. C. §30505; Executive
Jet Aviation, Inc. v.  Cleveland, 409 U. S. 249, 269–270
(1972).  And maritime safety statutes subject vessels to U. S.
Coast Guard inspections.  E.g., 46 U. S. C. §3301.
Lozman, however, cannot easily escape liability by
sailing away in his home.  He faces no special sea dangers.
He does not significantly engage in port-related commerce.
And the Solicitor General tells us that to adopt a version
of the “anything that floats” test would place unneces-
sary and undesirable inspection burdens upon the Coast
Guard. Brief for United States as  Amicus Curiae 29,
n. 11.
Finally, our conclusion is consistent with state laws
in States where floating home owners have congregated in
communities. See Brief for Seattle Floating Homes Association et al. as  Amici Curiae 1.  A Washington State  
 
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  11
Opinion of the Court
environmental statute, for example, defines a floating
home (for regulatory purposes) as “a single-family dwelling unit constructed on a float, that is moored, anchored,
or otherwise secured in waters, and is not a vessel, even
though it may be capable of being towed.”  Wash. Rev.
Code Ann. §90.58.270(5)(b)(ii) (Supp. 2012).  A California
statute defines a floating home (for tax purposes) as “a
floating structure” that is “designed and built to be used,
or is modified to be used, as a stationary waterborne residential dwelling,” and which (unlike a typical houseboat),
has no independent power generation, and is dependent
on shore utilities. Cal. Health & Safety Code Ann.
§18075.55(d) (West 2006). These States, we are told, treat
structures that meet their “floating home” definitions like
ordinary land-based homes rather than like vessels.  Brief
for Seattle Floating Homes Association 2.  Consistency of
interpretation of related state and federal laws is a virtue
in that it helps to create simplicity making the law easier
to understand and to follow for lawyers and for nonlawyers alike. And that consideration here supports our
conclusion.
D
The City and supporting amici make several important
arguments that warrant our response. First, they argue against use of any purpose-based test lest we introduce into “vessel” determinations a subjective element—
namely, the owner’s intent.  That element, they say, is
often “unverifiable” and too easily manipulated.  Its introduction would “foment unpredictability and invite gamesmanship.” Brief for Respondent 33.
We agree with the City about the need to eliminate the
consideration of evidence of subjective intent.  But we
cannot agree that the need requires abandonment of all
criteria based on “purpose.”  Cf. Stewart, 543 U. S., at 495
(discussing transportation purpose).  Indeed, it is difficult,  
 
12 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
if not impossible, to determine the use of a human “contrivance” without some consideration of human purposes.
At the same time, we have sought to avoid subjective
elements, such as owner’s intent, by permitting consideration only of objective evidence of a waterborne transportation purpose. That is why we have referred to the views of
a reasonable observer.  Supra, at 1.  And it is why we have
looked to the physical attributes and behavior of the structure, as objective manifestations of any relevant purpose,
and not to the subjective intent of the owner.  Supra, at
5–6.  We note that various admiralty treatises refer to
the use of purpose-based tests without any suggestion that
administration of those tests has introduced too much
subjectivity into the vessel-determination process.  1
Benedict on Admiralty §164; 1 Admiralty and Maritime
Law §3–6.
Second, the City, with support of amici, argues against
the use of criteria that are too abstract, complex, or openended. Brief for Respondent 28–29.  A court’s jurisdiction,
e.g., admiralty jurisdiction, may turn on application of
the term “vessel.”  And jurisdictional tests, often applied
at the outset of a case, should be “as simple as possible.”
Hertz Corp.  v. Friend, 559 U. S. ___, ___ (2010) (slip op.,
at 1).
We agree with the last-mentioned sentiment.  And we
also understand that our approach is neither perfectly precise nor always determinative.  Satisfaction of a designbased or purpose-related criterion, for example, is not
always sufficient for application of the statutory word
“vessel.” A craft whose physical characteristics and activities objectively evidence a waterborne transportation
purpose or function may still be rendered a nonvessel by
later physical alterations. For example, an owner might
take a structure that is otherwise a vessel (even the Queen
Mary) and connect it permanently to the land for use, say,
as a hotel.  See  Stewart,  supra, at 493–494. Further,  
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  13
Opinion of the Court
changes over time may produce a new form, i.e., a newly
designed structure—in which case it may be the new design that is relevant.  See Kathriner  v. Unisea,  Inc., 975
F. 2d 657, 660 (CA9 1992) (floating processing plant was
no longer a vessel where a “large opening [had been] cut
into her hull”).
Nor is satisfaction of the criterion always a necessary
condition, see Part IV,  infra. It is conceivable that an
owner might actually use a floating structure not designed
to any practical degree for transportation as, say, a ferry
boat, regularly transporting goods and persons over water.
Nonetheless, we believe the criterion we have used,
taken together with our example of its application here,
should offer guidance in a significant number of borderline
cases where “capacity” to transport over water is in doubt.
Moreover, borderline cases will always exist; they require
a method for resolution; we believe the method we have
used is workable; and, unlike, say, an “anything that
floats” test, it is consistent with statutory text, purpose,
and precedent. Nor do we believe that the dissent’s approach would prove any more workable.  For example,
the dissent suggests a relevant distinction between an own-
er’s “clothes and personal effects” and “large appliances
(like an oven or a refrigerator).”   Post,  at 8 (opinion of
SOTOMAYOR, J.).  But a transportation function need not
turn on the size of the items in question, and we believe
the line between items being transported from place to
place (e.g., cargo) and items that are mere appurtenances
is the one more likely to be relevant.  Cf. Benedict, American Admiralty §222, at 121 (“A ship is usually described as
consisting of the ship, her tackle, apparel, and furniture
. . .”).
Finally, the dissent and the Solicitor General (as amicus
for Lozman) argue that a remand is warranted for further
factfinding.  See post, at 10–12; Brief for United States as
Amicus Curiae 29–31. But neither the City nor Lozman  
 
 
 
14 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Opinion of the Court
makes such a request. Brief for Respondent 18, 49, 52.
And the only potentially relevant factual dispute the dis-
sent points to is that the home suffered serious damage
during a tow.  Post, at 10–11.  But this would add support
to our ultimate conclusion that this floating home was not
a vessel. We consequently see nothing to be gained by a
remand.
IV
Although we have focused on the phrase “capable of being used” for transportation over water, the statute also
includes as a “vessel” a structure that is  actually “used”
for that transportation.  1 U. S. C. §3 (emphasis added).
And the City argues that, irrespective of its design, Lozman’s floating home was  actually  so used. Brief for
Respondent 32. We are not persuaded by its argument.
We are willing to assume for argument’s sake that
sometimes it is possible actually to use for water transportation a structure that is in no practical way designed for
that purpose. See supra, at 12–13.  But even so, the City
cannot show the actual use for which it argues.  Lozman’s
floating home moved only under tow.  Before its arrest, it
moved significant distances only twice in seven years.
And when it moved, it carried, not passengers or cargo,
but at the very most (giving the benefit of any factual
ambiguity to the City) only its own furnishings, its owner’s
personal effects, and personnel present to assure the
home’s safety. 649 F. 3d, at 1268; Brief for Respondent 32;
Tr. of Oral Arg. 37–38.  This is far too little actual “use” to
bring the floating home within the terms of the statute.
See Evansville, 271 U. S., at 20–21 (wharfboat not a “vessel” even though “[e]ach winter” it “was towed to [a] harbor to protect it from ice”); see also Roper v. United States,
368 U. S. 20, 23 (1961) (“Unlike a barge, the S. S. Harry
Lane  was not moved in order to transport commodities
from one location to another”).  See also supra, at 6–11.  
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  15
Opinion of the Court
V
For these reasons, the judgment of the Court of Appeals
is reversed.
It is so ordered.  
Opinion of the Court
16 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
Appendix to opinion of the Court
APPENDIX

Petitioner’s floating home.  App. 69. Opinion of the Court
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  17
Appendix to opinion of the Court
50- by 200-foot wharf boat in Evansville, Indiana, on Nov. 13, 1918.
H. R. Doc. No. 1521, 65th Cong., 3d Sess., Illustration No. 13 (1918). _________________
_________________
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  1
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES
No. 11–626
FANE LOZMAN, PETITIONER v. THE CITY OF

RIVIERA BEACH, FLORIDA

ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF
APPEALS FOR THE ELEVENTH CIRCUIT

[January 15, 2013]
 JUSTICE  SOTOMAYOR, with whom JUSTICE  KENNEDY
joins, dissenting.
I agree with much of the Court’s reasoning.  Our precedents fully support the Court’s reasoning that the Eleventh Circuit’s test is overinclusive; that the subjective
intentions of a watercraft’s owner or designer play no role
in the vessel analysis of 1 U. S. C. §3; and that an objective assessment of a watercraft’s purpose or function
governs whether that structure is a vessel.  The Court,
however, creates a novel and unnecessary “reasonable
observer” reformulation of these principles and errs in its
determination, under this new standard, that the craft
before us is not a vessel.  Given the underdeveloped record below, we should remand. Therefore, I respectfully
dissent.
I
The relevant statute, 1 U. S. C. §3, “sweeps broadly.”
Stewart v. Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U. S. 481, 494 (2005).  It
provides that “[t]he word ‘vessel’ includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or
capable of being used, as a means of transportation on
water.” This broad phrasing flows from admiralty law’s
long recognition that vessels come in many shapes and
sizes. See E. Benedict, American Admiralty §218, p. 121  
 
2  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
(1870 ed.) (“[V]essel, is a general word, many times used
for any kind of navigation”); M. Cohen, Admiralty Jurisdiction, Law, and Practice 232 (1883) (“[T]he term ‘ves-
sel’ shall be understood to comprehend every description of
vessel navigating on any sea or channel, lake or river
. . . ”).
Our test for vessel status has remained the same for
decades: “Under §3, a ‘vessel’ is any watercraft practically
capable of maritime transportation . . . .”   Stewart, 543
U. S., at 497; see also Evansville & Bowling Green Packet
Co.  v. Chero Cola Bottling Co., 271 U. S. 19, 22 (1926);
Cope v. Vallette Dry Dock Co., 119 U. S. 625, 627 (1887).
At its core, vessel status has always rested upon the objective physical characteristics of a vessel (such as its structure, shape, and materials of construction), as well as its
usage history. But over time, several important principles
have guided both this Court and the lower courts in determining what kinds of watercraft fall properly within
the scope of admiralty jurisdiction.
Consider the most basic of requirements. For a watercraft to be “practically capable” of maritime transportation, it must first be “capable” of such transportation.
Only those structures that can simultaneously float and
carry people or things over water are even presumptively
within §3’s reach.  Stopping here, as the Eleventh Circuit
essentially did, results in an overinclusive test.  Section 3,
after all, does not drag every bit of floating and towable
flotsam and jetsam into admiralty jurisdiction.  Rather,
the terms “capable of being used” and “practical” have real
significance in our maritime jurisprudence.
“[A] water craft is not ‘capable of being used’ for maritime transport in any meaningful sense if it has been
permanently moored.”  Stewart, 543 U. S., at 494.  So, to
take an obvious example, a floating bridge over water does
not constitute a vessel; such mooring is clearly permanent.
Cf. The Rock Island Bridge, 6 Wall. 213, 216 (1867).  Less Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  3
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
dramatically, a watercraft whose objective physical connections to land “evidence a permanent location” does not
fall within §3’s ambit. See,  e.g., Evansville, 271 U. S., at
22 (“[The wharfboat] served at Evansville as an office,
warehouse and wharf, and was not taken from place to
place. The connections with the water, electric light and
telephone systems of the city evidence a permanent location”);  Dunklin  v. Louisiana Riverboat Gaming Partnership, No. 00–31455, 2001 WL 650209, *1, n. 1 (CA5, May
22, 2001) (per curiam) (describing a fully functional ca-
sino boat placed “in an enclosed pond in a cofferdam”).  Put
plainly, structures “permanently affixed to shore or resting on the ocean floor,”  Stewart, 543 U. S., at 493–494,
have never been treated as vessels for the purposes of §3.
Our precedents have also excluded from vessel status
those watercraft “rendered practically incapable of transportation or movement.”  Id., at 494.  Take the easiest
case, a vessel whose physical characteristics have been so
altered as to make waterborne transportation a practical
impossibility.  Ibid. (explaining that a “floating processing
plant was no longer a vessel where a ‘large opening [had
been] cut into her hull,’ rendering her incapable of moving
over the water” (quoting Kathriner v. UNISEA, Inc., 975
F. 2d 657, 660 (CA9 1992)).  The longstanding admiralty
exception for “dead ships,” those watercraft that “require
a major overhaul” for their “reactivation,” also falls into
this category.  See Roper v. United States, 368 U. S. 20, 21
(1961) (finding that a liberty ship “deactivated from service and ‘mothballed’ ” is not a “vessel in navigation”); see
generally Rutherglen, Dead Ships, 30 J. Maritime L. &
Comm. 677 (1999).1
  Likewise, ships that “have been
——————
1
The converse category of ships “not yet born” is another historical
exclusion from vessel status.  See Tucker v. Alexandroff, 183 U. S. 424,
438 (1902) (“A ship is born when she is launched, and lives so long as
her identity is preserved. Prior to her launching she is a mere congeries of wood and iron—an ordinary piece of personal property—as  
4  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
withdrawn from the water for extended periods of time” in
order to facilitate repairs and reconstruction may lose
their status as vessels until they are rendered capable of
maritime transport.  Stewart, 543 U. S., at 496.  Cf. West
v.  United States, 361 U. S. 118, 120, 122 (1959) (noting
that “the Mary Austin was withdrawn from any operation
whatever while in storage with the ‘moth-ball fleet’ ” and
that “[t]he Mary Austin, as anyone could see, was not in
maritime service. She was undergoing major repairs and
complete renovation . . . ”).
Finally, our maritime jurisprudence excludes from vessel status those floating structures that, based on their
physical characteristics, do not “transport people, freight,
or cargo from place to place” as one of their purposes.
Stewart, 543 U. S., at 493.  “Purpose,” in this context,
is determined solely by an objective inquiry into a craft’s
function. “[N]either size, form, equipment nor means of
propulsion are determinative factors upon the question of
[vessel status],” though all may be considered.  The Robert
W. Parsons, 191 U. S. 17, 30 (1903).  Moreover, in assessing a particular structure’s function, we have consis-
tently examined its past and present activities.  Stewart,
543 U. S., at 495;  Cope, 119 U. S., at 627.  Of course, a
seaborne craft is not excluded from vessel status simply
because its “primary purpose” is not maritime transport.
Stewart, 543 U. S., at 497.  We held as much in Stewart
when we concluded that a dredge was a vessel notwithstanding that its “primary purpose” was “dredging rather
than transportation.”  Id., at 486, 495. So long as one
purpose of a craft is transportation, whether of cargo or
people or both, §3’s practical capability requirement is
satisfied.
Certainly, difficult and marginal cases will arise.  For-
——————
distinctly a land structure as a house, and subject only to mechanics’
liens created by state law and enforceable in the state courts”). Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  5
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
tunately, courts do not consider each floating structure
anew. So, for example, when we were confronted in Stewart with the question whether a dredge is a §3 vessel, we
did not commence with a clean slate; we instead sought
guidance from previous cases that had confronted similar
structures.  See  id., at 490, and n. 5; see also  Norton v.
Warner Co., 321 U. S. 565, 571–572 (1944) (likewise surveying earlier cases).
In sum, our precedents offer substantial guidance for
how objectively to determine whether a watercraft is
practically capable of maritime transport and thus qualifies as a §3 vessel. First, the capacity to float and carry
things or people is an obvious prerequisite to vessel status.
Second, structures or ships that are permanently moored
or fixed in place are not §3 vessels.  Likewise, structures
that are practically incapable of maritime transport are
not vessels, whether they are ships that have been altered
so that they may no longer be put to sea, dead ships, or
ships removed from navigation for extended periods of
time. Third, those watercraft whose physical characteristics and usage history reveal no maritime transport purpose or use are not §3 vessels.
II
The majority does not appear to disavow the legal principles described above.  The majority apparently accepts
that permanent mooring suffices to take a ship out of
vessel status,  ante, at 8, 12,2
 and that “[a] craft whose
——————
2
In discussing permanent mooring, as well as Stewart’s rejection of
primary-purpose and state-of-transit tests for vessel status, Stewart v.
Dutra Constr. Co., 543 U. S. 481, 495 (2005), the majority states that
our holdings “say, and they mean, that the statutory definition [given
by §3] may (or may not) apply—not that it automatically must apply—
where a structure has some other primary purpose, where it is stationary at relevant times, and where it is attached—but not permanently
attached—to land.”   Ante, at 8. This must mean, by negative impli-
cation, that a permanently moored  structure never falls within §3’s  
6  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
physical characteristics and activities objectively evidence
a waterborne transportation purpose or function may still
be rendered a nonvessel by later physical alterations,”
ante, at 12–13.3
 No one argues that Lozman’s craft was
permanently moored, see App. 32 (describing the “deteriorated” ropes holding the craft in place), or that it had un-
dergone physical alterations sufficient to take it out of
vessel status, see Tr. of Oral Arg. 13 (Lozman’s counsel
arguing that the craft was never a vessel in the first
place). Our precedents make clear that the Eleventh
Circuit’s “anything that floats” test is overinclusive and
ignores that purpose is a crucial factor in determining
whether a particular craft is or is not a vessel. Accordingly, the majority is correct that determining whether
Lozman’s craft is a vessel hinges on whether that craft
had any maritime transportation purpose or function.
The majority errs, though, in concluding that the purpose component of the §3 test is whether “a reasonable
observer, looking to the [craft]’s physical characteristics
and activities, would not consider it to be designed to any
practical degree for carrying people or things on water.”
Ante,  at 1.  This phrasing has never appeared in any of
our cases and the majority’s use of it, despite its seemingly
objective gloss, effectively (and erroneously) introduces a
subjective component into the vessel-status inquiry.
For one thing, in applying this test the majority points
to some characteristics of Lozman’s craft that have no
relationship to maritime transport, such as the style of the
craft’s rooms or that “those inside those rooms looked out
upon the world, not through water-tight portholes, but
——————
definition.
3
Presumably, this encompasses those kinds of ships “otherwise rendered practically incapable of transportation or movement.”  Stewart,
543 U. S., at 494.  That is, ships which have been altered so they cannot
travel the seas, dead ships, and ships removed from the water for an
extended period of time.  Supra, at 3–4.  
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  7
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
through French doors or ordinary windows.”  Ante, at 5.
The majority never explains why it believes these particular esthetic elements are important for determining vessel
status. In fact, they are not.  Section 3 is focused on
whether a structure is “used, or capable of being used, as
a means of transportation on water.”  By importing windows, doors, room style, and other esthetic criteria into the
§3 analysis, the majority gives our vessel test an “I know it
when I see it” flavor.  Jacobellis v. Ohio, 378 U. S. 184, 197
(1964) (Stewart, J., concurring). But that has never been
nor should it be the test: A badly designed and unattractive vessel is different from a structure that lacks any
“practical capacity” for maritime transport.  In the majority’s eyes, the two appear to be one and the same.
The majority’s treatment of the craft’s past voyages is
also strange.  The majority notes that Lozman’s craft could
be and was, in fact, towed over long distances, including
over 200 miles at one point.  Ante, at 2–6. But the major-
ity determines that, given the design of Lozman’s craft,
this is “far too little actual ‘use’ to bring the floating home
within the terms of the statute.”  Ante, at 14.  This is
because “when it moved, it carried, not passengers or
cargo, but at the very most (giving the benefit of any
factual ambiguity to the City) only its own furnishings, its
owner’s personal effects, and personnel present to assure
the home’s safety.”  Ante, at 13–14.
I find this analysis confusing.  The majority accepts that
the record indicates that Lozman’s craft traveled hundreds
of miles while “carrying people or things.”  Ante, at 1. But
then, in the same breath, the majority concludes that a
“reasonable observer” would nonetheless conclude that the
craft was not “designed to any practical degree for carrying people or things on water.”  Ibid. The majority fails to
explain how a craft that apparently did carry people and
things over water for long distances was not “practically
capable” of maritime transport.  
 
 
8  LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
This is not to say that a structure capable of such feats
is necessarily a vessel.  A  craft like Lozman’s might not
be a vessel, for example, if it could only carry its owner’s
clothes and personal effects, or if it is only capable of
transporting itself and its appurtenances.  Jerome B. Gru-
bart, Inc. v.  Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U. S.
527, 535 (1995) (“[M]aritime law . . . ordinarily treats an
‘appurtenance’ attached to a vessel in navigable waters as
part of the vessel itself ”).  But if such a craft can carry
large appliances (like an oven or a refrigerator) and all of
the other things we might find in a normal home in addition to the occupants of that home, as the existing record
suggests Lozman’s craft may have done, then it would
seem to be much more like a mobile home (and therefore a
vessel) than a firmly rooted residence.  The simple truth is
that we know very little about the craft’s capabilities and
what did or did not happen on its various trips.  By focusing on the little we do know for certain about this craft
(i.e.,  its windows, doors, and the style of its rooms) in
determining whether it is a vessel, the majority renders
the §3 inquiry opaque and unpredictable.
Indeed, the little we do know about Lozman’s craft
suggests only that it was an unusual structure.  A sur-
veyor was unable to find any comparable craft for sale in the
State of Florida.  App. 43. Lozman’s home was neither
obviously a houseboat, as the majority describes such
ships,  ante, at 5–6, nor clearly a floating home,  ante,  at
10–11. See App. 13, 31, 79 (sale, lease, and surveying
documents describing Lozman’s craft as a “houseboat”).
The only clear difference that the majority identifies between these two kinds of structures is that the former are
self-propelled, while the latter are not.  Ante, at 5–6. But
even the majority recognizes that self-propulsion has
never been a prerequisite for vessel status.   Ante, at 5
(citing The Robert W. Parsons, 191 U. S., at 31); see Norton, 321 U. S., at 571.  Consequently, it is unclear why Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  9
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
Lozman’s craft is a floating home, why all floating homes
are not vessels,4
 or why Lozman’s craft is not a vessel.  If
windows, doors, and other esthetic attributes are what
take Lozman’s craft out of vessel status, then the majority’s test is completely malleable.  If it is the craft’s lack of
self-propulsion, then the majority’s test is unfaithful to our
longstanding precedents. See The Robert W. Parsons, 191
U. S., at 30–31. If it is something else, then that something is not apparent from the majority’s opinion.
Worse still, in straining to find that Lozman’s craft
was a floating home and therefore not a vessel, the majority calls into question the conclusions of numerous lower
courts that have found houseboats that lacked selfpropulsion to be §3 vessels. See  ante, at 9–10 (citing
Miami River Boat Yard, Inc.  v. 60’ Houseboat, 390 F. 2d
596, 597 (CA5 1968); Sea Village Marina, LLC v. A 1980
Carlcraft Houseboat, No. 09–3292, 2009 WL 3379923, *5–
*6 (D NJ, Oct. 19, 2009); Hudson Harbor 79th Street Boat
Basin, Inc.  v. Sea Casa, 469 F. Supp. 987, 989 (SDNY
1979)). The majority incorrectly suggests that these cases
applied an “ ‘anything that floats’ ” test.  Ante, at 9.  These
cases suggest something different.  Many of these decisions in assessing the crafts before them looked carefully
at these crafts’ structure and function, and determined
that these ships had capabilities similar to other longestablished vessels, suggesting a significant maritime
——————
4
To be clear, some floating homes are obviously not vessels.  For example, some floating homes are structures built upon a large inverted
pyramid of logs.  Brief for Seattle Floating Homes Assn. et al. as Amici
Curiae 14. Cf. App. 38 (Lozman’s craft was buoyed by an empty bilge
space). These kinds of floating  homes can measure 4,000 or 5,000
square feet, see Brief for Seattle Floating Homes Assn. et al. as Amici
Curiae 4, and may have connections to land that require the aid of
divers and electricians to remove, ibid.  These large, immobile structures are not vessels and have physical attributes directly connected to
their lack of navigational abilities that suggest as much.  But these
structures are not before us; Lozman’s craft is.  
10 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
transportation function.  See Miami River Boat Yard, 390
F. 2d, at 597 (likening houseboat at issue to a “barg[e]”);
Sea Village Marina, 2009 WL 3379923, *7 (“According to
the available evidence, [the houseboats in question] float
and can be towed to a new marina without substantial
effort . . . ”); Hudson Harbor, 469 F. Supp., at 989 (houseboat “was capable of being used at least to the extent that
a ‘dumb barge’ is capable of being used” and comparable
to a “yach[t]”).  Their holdings are consistent with older
cases, see, e.g., The Ark, 17 F. 2d 446, 447 (SD Fla. 1926),
and the crafts at issue in these cases have been widely
accepted as vessels by most treatises in this area, see 1 S.
Friedell, Benedict on Admiralty §164, p. 10–6, n. 2 (7th ed.
rev. 2012); 1 T. Schoenbaum, Admiralty & Maritime Law
§3–6, p. 153, n. 10 (5th ed. 2011); 1 R. Force & M. Norris,
The Law of Seamen §2:12, p. 2–82 (5th ed. 2003). The
majority’s suggestion that rejecting the Eleventh Circuit’s
test necessitates jettisoning these other precedents is
simply wrong.  And, in its rejection, the majority works
real damage to what has long been a settled area of maritime law.5
III
With a more developed record, Lozman’s craft might be
distinguished from the houseboats in those lower court
——————
5
The majority’s invocation of two  state environmental and tax statutes as a reason to reject this  well-established lower court precedent
is particularly misguided. See  ante, at 10–11.  We have repeatedly
emphasized that the “regulation of maritime vessels” is a “uniquely
federal are[a] of regulation.”  Chamber of Commerce of United States
of America v. Whiting, 563 U. S. __, __ (2011) (plurality opinion) (slip op.,
at 19) (emphasis added); see also United States v. Locke, 529 U. S. 89,
99 (2000) (explaining that “the federal interest [in regulating interstate
navigation] has been manifest since the beginning of our Republic and
is now well established”).  Our previous cases did not turn to state law
in determining whether a given craft  is a vessel.  There are no good
reasons to do so now.  
Cite as: 568 U. S. ____ (2013)  11
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
cases just discussed. For example, if Lozman’s craft’s
previous voyages caused it serious damage, then that
would strongly suggest that it lacked a maritime transportation purpose or function. There is no harm in remanding the case for further factfinding along the lines
described above, cautioning the lower courts to be aware
that features of Lozman’s “incomparable” craft, see App. 43,
may distinguish it from previous precedents. At most,
such a remand would introduce a relatively short delay
before finally ending the years-long battle between Lozman and the city of Riviera Beach.
On the other hand, there is great harm in stretching the
facts below and overriding settled and likely correct lower
court precedents to reach the unnecessary conclusion that
Lozman’s craft was not a vessel.  Without an objective
application of the §3 standard, one that relies in a predictable fashion only on those physical characteristics of a
craft that are related to maritime transport and use,
parties will have no  ex ante notion whether a particular
ship is a vessel. As a wide range of amici have cautioned
us, numerous maritime industries rely heavily on clear
and predictable legal rules for determining which ships
are vessels.6
 The majority’s distorted application of our
——————
6
For example, without knowing whether a particular ship is a §3
vessel, it is impossible for lenders to know how properly to characterize
it as collateral for a financing agreement because they do not know
what remedies they will have recourse to in the event of a default.
Brief for National Marine Bankers Assn. as  Amicus Curiae 14–15.
Similarly, cities like Riviera Beach provide docking for crafts like
Lozman’s on the assumption that such crafts actually are “vessels,”
App. 13–21 (Riviera Beach’s wet-slip agreement referring to Lozman’s
craft as a “vessel,” “boat,” or “houseboat”), that can be “remove[d]” upon
short notice,  id., at 17 (requiring removal of the craft on three days’
notice).  The majority makes it impossible for these marinas to know
whether the “houseboats” that fill their slips are actually vessels and
what remedies they can exercise in the event of a dispute.  See id., at
15 (“In addition to any other remedies provided for in this Agreement,  
 
 
12 LOZMAN v. RIVIERA BEACH
SOTOMAYOR, J., dissenting
settled law to the facts of this case frustrates these ends.
Moreover, the majority’s decision reaches well beyond rel-
atively insignificant boats like Lozman’s craft,  id., at 79
(listing purchase price of Lozman’s craft as $17,000),
because it specifically disapproves of lower court decisions
dealing with much larger ships, see ante, at 10 (questioning Holmes v. Atlantic Sounding Co., 437 F. 3d 441 (CA5
2006) (finding a 140-foot-long and 40-foot-wide dormitory
barge with 50 beds to be a §3 vessel)).
IV
It is not clear that Lozman’s craft is a §3 vessel.  It is
clear, however, that we are not in a good position to make
such a determination based on the limited record we possess. The appropriate response is to remand the case
for further proceedings in light of the proper legal standard. See Brief for United States as Amicus Curiae 29–31.
The Court resists this move and in its haste to christen
Lozman’s craft a nonvessel delivers an analysis that will
confuse the lower courts and upset our longstanding admiralty precedent.  I respectfully dissent.
——————
the Marina, as a provider of necessities to this vessel, has a maritime
lien on the vessel and may bring a civil action in rem under 46 United
States Code 31342 in Federal Court, to arrest the  vessel and enforce
the lien . . . ” (emphasis added)).  Lozman’s behavior over the years is
emblematic of this problem.  For example, in 2003, prior to his move to
Riviera Beach, Lozman had his craft towed from one marina to another
after a dispute arose with the first marina and he was threatened with
eviction.  App. 76–78.  The possibility that a shipowner like Lozman
can depart so easily over water and go beyond the reach of a provider of
necessaries like the marina in response to a legal dispute is exactly the
kind of problem that the Federal Maritime Lien Act, 46 U. S. C. §31342,
was intended to address.  See Dampskibsselskabet Dannebrog v. Signal
Oil & Gas Co. of Cal., 310 U. S. 268, 272–273 (1940).

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