In order to really understand the bigger picture of American maritime history we will concentrate on the development of the types of vessels that carried that maritime history forward to today.

We’ll explore the history of the construction of these various types of vessels and the story of some specific actions taken by the crew of specific vessels that have altered our American culture.

Ship construction and ship propulsion were dramatically advanced in the fifty years following the Civil War and American commerce as well as our naval strategy and tactics progress alongside these technical advances.

In addition, our American culture (our collective values as Americans) was transform ed with our maritime progress as well.

In this course we’ll make ample use of the available online resources to explore and understand the role that maritime culture has played in altering our nation’s trajectory toward our collective national goals.

As we continue through the semester we’ll explore the types of vessels that allowed the buildup of our military strength and our commercial prowess.

And we’ll come to consideration of the possibilities of America’s maritime future. A future that includes a major role for you and for the American maritime academies, including this maritime college.

The primary ‘vessel’ of this American maritime history are the entities that physically and metaphorically carried this history forward through time is the ships themselves.

Ideas, actions, ports, logistics, strategies and humans are all involved as well, but the physical ships remain the primary focus of America’s maritime story. We’ll concentrate the focus of this course on the ships and their types and the activities they were involved in that changed America.

And in order to understand these ships, we need to have an idea of the meaning of the concept of the word ‘ship’ and what it means when we say ‘ship’.

What is ‘a ship’? 

British Common Law and American Supreme Court decisions


How to successfully complete assignment #1

  • Read these two separate articles, and take note of the lessons within (sites are below).
  • These include a Supreme Court ruling and an academic article.
  • Try to relate to the legal issues involved in these articles.
  • Ask yourself the question of what is a ‘mariner’? What is a vessel, and what is not?
  • Is a houseboat a ship or real estate?
  • Is a swimming pool raft a vessel?
  • Is a Hudson river oil-barge a ship?
  • Is a floating oil-rig a ship?
  • Is an anchored wind turbine platform in Long Island Sound a ship?
  • Is a dead whale a ship?
  • Keep in mind that British law is more ‘fluid’ and the legal terms are more fluid as well. American legal terms, especially when handed down by our Supreme Court, are quite definitive and very difficult to change. And the real issue here in both countries is monetary. Can the City of Riviera Beach charge real estate tax on the houseboat and does a worker on an oil rig have the same legal protection (including a seaman’s rights to insurance) as a mate on a cargo vessel crossing the Atlantic.


 In 750 words, compare and contrast the British ‘legal definition of a ship’ with the American definition. 

  • 750 words is an approximation. Your answer should meet or exceed that marker, but if you’ve gone beyond 1000 words, your answer would not serve as a ‘legal brief’.
  • Make sure everything you write and submit is your own work.
  • Submit your work to the TURNITIN site provided.
  • You should cite the references that you make to the readings but be aware that our TURNITIN tool can be ‘intolerant’.


Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, Florida,+Fl&hl=en&as_sdt=6,33&as_vis=1
  • Read this U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
  • This ruling is the current law related to the definition of a ship in the United States.

Is It a Vessel, a Ship or a Boat, Is It Just a Craft, Or Is It Merely a Contrivance?

Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce, Vol. 47, No. 4, October, 2016
  • Read this academic article.
  • The author attempts here to understand the British legal definition of ‘a ship’ (for legal and insurance purposes).

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