Update Oct. 28, 2021: Adding paragraph 20 to include graphic showing ships around port of LA and a statement from LA port authority on 200,000 containers being stuck off the coast.
A screenshot of a maritime tracking platform does not show 200,000 ships waiting to dock at the Long Beach port in California, despite claims shared online. The image shows all cargo ships which are being tracked, but not all are stationary.
The screenshot matches the web interface of Marine Traffic shows hundreds of green icons along the U.S. coast (here).
Dozens of users copied and pasted an identical message, along with a screenshot of Marine Traffic’s live map, with text that reads: “This is current map of cargo containers at sea waiting to port around the U.S. There are now 200,000 just at the Long Beach, CA port waiting to dock. There is also a shortage of 80,000 truckers and other transport workers in the industry. I don’t know what else is going on and I don’t want to scare anyone but I think not just consumer items but food, gas and other goods are going to be in short supply soon and prices are shortly going to skyrocket like crazy!”
One post gathered over 3,900 shares on Facebook by the time of publication (here).
A social media user who shared the message and screenshot on Facebook said: “Start positioning your family now for what's coming....” (here)
Another individual said in the comments of a post: “WAKE UP! The truckers are waiting in front of the ports and leave with nothing. This is a strategy of this damn government that wants to create a hunger crisis and then become the saviors of the world and control the people more” (here).
The icons do not show hundreds of thousands of ships waiting to dock, however. Most of the icons in the image represent ships in motion, not anchored cargos.
The different colored symbols represent various kinds of ships, including cargo vessels (green), tankers (red), and passenger vessels (blue), while a pointed icon represents a moving ship and circled icons symbolize ships that are anchored (here), (bit.ly/3auMLBY).
The green arrow represents all cargo ships that are being monitored by Marine Traffic that are in transit, which is viewable (ibb.co/8Nv6FKK). The circle green icons are the cargo ships at anchor (ibb.co/ZB0jYkc).
Up-to-date data from Marine Traffic’s live map at the Port of Long Beach where both stationary and moving cargo can be monitored, is viewable (here).
“The Marine Traffic map has just over 267,000 vessels, of all types and sizes, transmitting their signal at this moment. That includes container ships, tankers, fishing vessels, pleasure craft and the many other types of vessels we track on our platform,” Georgios Hatzimanolis, media strategist at Marine Traffic, told Reuters.
According to Marine Traffic’s data, there are also not 200,000 ships anchored near Californian shores waiting to dock.
“To suggest that 200,000 of those are cargo ships off the West Coast of California is just absurd and completely made up. In fact, our records show that there 84 vessels currently anchored just outside of LA / Long Beach,” Hatzimanolis said.
Reuters previously addressed the claim that delays at U.S. ports have been purposely orchestrated by the U.S. government (here).
Dozens of social media users previously shared a screenshot which appears to match Marine Traffic’s mobile interface, making the false claim that the image showed hundreds of cargo ships waiting to dock (here).
It is true that there has been disruption at U.S. ports and other ports around the world due to a myriad of logistical issues such as worker shortages amid rebounding trade (here).
The southern California complex, Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, handles approximately 40% of all inbound containers for the United States (here).
This year so far, the overall cargo volume processed at the Port of Los Angeles increased by 26% from the previous year. The port also had its busiest September in its 114-year history (here).
The map pictured in the posts on social media does not show stationed cargo ships or containers. A CNN graphic created with Marine Traffic data (here) shows actual amounts of still and moving ships around Los Angeles and Long Beach in October. The executive director of the Port of Los Angeles told CNN 200,000 shipping containers remained stuck off the coast of Los Angeles on Oct. 18 (here), which is where the misattribution to the Marine Traffic map on social media may have stemmed from.
False. A screenshot of the maritime tracking platform Marine Traffic does not show 200,000 ships waiting to dock at the Port of Long Beach, California. Most of the icons in the image symbolize ships in motion, not anchored vessels.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.