Container ships waiting to dock and unload
Source: Facebook

Are Container Ships Not Being Unloaded? False Claims Are Circulating

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Oct. 7 2021, Published 11:00 a.m. ET

Recent claims on social media that there are thousands of container ships off the coast of California that aren't being allowed to dock and unload are false, reports USA TODAY.

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Facebook post fueled concern over the waiting ships.

Concern that the current supply chain bottleneck might be caused by cargo ships “stacking up” off the coast was fueled by a Sept. 19 Facebook post that included pictures of cargo ships waiting in the Pacific.

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“Y’all better get ready for some serious shortages. This are cargo ships off the coast of California. They are stacking up. Reports have stated there are over 1000 holding and the number is rising. There are not being allowed to dock and unload,” wrote Facebook user Kenny Kuehl in the post.

container ships wait
Source: Facebook
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The post was shared 1,400 times. Facebook has since flagged it as “false information.” Other pictures and videos of the waiting cargo ships have also been posted to Twitter.

There's a record number of ships waiting to dock.

There are indeed a record number of cargo and container ships waiting off the coast, but the number of ships at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports is around 153. Less than 70 of the ships are either anchored or adrift waiting, Kip Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, told USA TODAY.

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Louttit admits that the number of waiting ships is more than usual. However, the ships aren’t waiting because they're being prevented from docking. They're waiting their turn, he said. Both ports are experiencing unprecedented levels of traffic.

"The ships are waiting at anchor or adrift because there is a backup in the port because there is no room for more ships in the port," Louttit told USA TODAY. "It is nothing to do with 'allowed.' There's no space. The parking garage is full."

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In a Sept. 23 interview with the New York Times, Louttit said that high traffic at the ports has been going on for about 11 months, during a time when consumer spending and demand for products has increased as COVID-19 pandemic restrictions ease.

Source: Twitter
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Dockworker debunks the backup claim.

In 2021, container freight volumes are up 37 percent over the same time last year, Facebook user Michael Bacheldor Sr. commented in response to Kuehl’s post. Bacheldor stated that he works at the California docks, although he doesn’t specify which one.

“Kenny Kuehl there’s not even a 1000 ships world wide that sail the seas,” Bacheldor writes. “Here’s the real numbers I work out here on the docks in California 56 ships in the harbor 14 terminals 3-4 ships in each terminal getting loaded and unloaded 24 hours a day seven days a week container freight volumes right now are up 37% versus this time last year this time last year. Last year at this time freight volumes were up 22.7% versus the previous year."

He also writes, "The workers are working as fast as they can to move the huge volumes of container freight in and out of the harbor. It has absolutely nothing to do with them not being allowed to dock that is false information and a conspiracy theory. Please do not post stuff that is not true we work very hard to keep this country moving."

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