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I have been advised that the oil industry employs non ABS lift boats because they are not considered under the maritime law as "commercial carriers of goods or people between US ports", thus are considered as "work tool", not a qualifing vesel und...
In a personal injury context, under the Supreme Court ruling in Stewart v. Dutra Construction, a vessel includes every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a measn of transportation on water. The watercraft need not have a trasnportation function so long as it is in navigation. A liftboat that you describe would fit within this definition and crewmembers onboard would qualify as "seamen" for Jones Act purposes.See question