Oil Tankers Going Nowhere?

We’ve been reading news of oil tankers stranded in various places around the world on account of the Coronavirus pandemic which has been affecting the price of oil. The most stark image and story is the one below that we came across via social media.

Anchored Oil Tankers?

This story is fake. How do we know?

Let’s head over to Marinetraffic.com that uses Automatic Identification System AIS technology to plot the position of marine vessels worldwide. Most ships today carry AIS transponders that are used to broadcast their location and other information. These signals can be read via satellite or you can even buy an AIS receiver with a range of about 40 miles. Alternatively you can use an RTL-SDR to decode AIS signals.

Here is what the current view of anchored tankers looks like

Tankers anchored around the world

It is true however that there are areas such as off the coast of California where dozens of tankers are in fact anchored.

Tankers anchored off the coast of California

But this is nowhere close to the fake news image.

AIS technology can be used to track marine traffic. An AIS receiver or RTL-SDR can be used for this purpose or you can even use one of many online marine tracking services to find the location of vessels anywhere in the ocean.