was still in U.S. territorial waters, and at their home port if they were still in U.S. waters but headed overseas.
The 1990 and 2000 censuses dropped the 1,000-personnel and 50-mile provisos of the rule for counting naval vessels. They replaced the 50-mile radius with the ambiguous “nearby,” and permitted reports of household locations on land and counting military shipboard personnel there if possible. The two censuses also permitted crews of merchant vessels to report off-ship residences; those who did not were counted at the berthing port (if berthed on Census Day), the U.S. port of departure (if at sea), the U.S. port of destination (if headed back to the United States from a foreign part), or as part of the overseas population otherwise. Citro (2000:205) relates:
For the 2000 census, the Census Bureau worked with the U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Coast Guard to identify both housing units and group quarters on military installations and ships assigned to a home port in the United States. Questionnaires were mailed to housing units on military installations; other methods, such as visiting installations and ships to enumerate people at their work stations, were used to count the military population in group quarters.
The U.S. Maritime Administration assisted in identifying and arranging to mail questionnaires to other maritime vessels in operation around Census Day; these vessels included “factory trawlers, floating processors, tuna boats and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration vessels” (U.S. Census Bureau, 1999:1).
Discussion of the military seaborne counting procedures at the 1986 CO-PAFS conference on residence rules suggested general agreement that the use of home port information rather than current location was generally good. However, accuracy depends on how home ports are recorded and whether they are shifted, for instance, when a ship is detailed to a navy yard for months for extensive repairs or upgrades. The discussion also pointed out remaining ambiguities in the interpretation of what a home port location means. With specific reference to San Diego, Hollmann (1987) describes how different interpretations where a ship is located (e.g., physically tied to a pier within city limits, even though the land below “mean low water” underneath the ship’s hull might belong to another jurisdiction) could credit ships whose home port is San Diego to the cities of San Diego, National City, or Coronado. That specific case was argued over most of the 1980s, culminating in a California court ruling that credited the ships to Coronado even though the waters in which they float may be in San Diego’s jurisdiction.