Any structure made to float upon the water for the purpose of commerce or war, whether impelled by wind, steam or oars -this is the explanation of a vessel given in the American-English Encyclopedia of Law. A vessel has been further defined in the Revised Statutes of the United States as including every description of watercraft or other artificial contrivance used, or capable of being used, as a means of transportation by water. A controversial question however, that often creates confusion, is this: When, during the course of construction, is a craft considered to be a full-fledged vessel. Theories and applications of maritime laws of foreign countries, on this as on other points, are often deprecated by the courts of the United States.

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