Fact check: False claim that the Navy sunk a FEMA barge

  • In Business
  • 2022-10-06 23:25:38Z

The claim: The Navy sunk a FEMA barge

Hurricane Ian hit Florida's Gulf Coast on Sept. 28, causing the death of more than 100 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power. More than 1,600 staff members from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, were deployed to the state to assist with recovery efforts.

An Oct. 2 Facebook video claims the Navy sunk a large ship operated by the agency that was en route to South Carolina, which also suffered damage from the hurricane.

"Navy SEALs Sink FEMA Barge Headed to South Carolina (sic)," reads the video's caption. The post was viewed 22,000 times within two days.

But Navy and FEMA officials said the claim is baseless. And FEMA does not operate any barges or large ships as described in the video, according to FEMA press secretary Jeremy Edwards.

The video attached to the post does not include evidence to support the claim.

USA TODAY reached out to the users who shared the claim for comment.

Road signs stick out of the water in a flooded area of DeSoto County, Florida, on Sunday, Oct.
Road signs stick out of the water in a flooded area of DeSoto County, Florida, on Sunday, Oct.  

Officials: No such event happened

Both Edwards and Travis Callahan, a spokesperson for the Navy, said the claim is false.

The video attached to the post describes the supposed FEMA barges as "transport vessels," as well as "hospital ships" and "temporary relocation shelters" that are several hundred feet long and several stories tall. The video claims these massive boats are used as temporary shelters for people.

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"FEMA does not own, or operate, any barges or large ships as described in this video," Edwards said. "FEMA does, however, own a number of relatively small, swift water rescue boats to support the search and rescue efforts we carry out in support of our federal, state, and local partners to rescue survivors following hurricanes and flooding disasters."

FEMA's website details the aid the agency offers to people, which includes financial assistance for temporary housing and home repairs and distribution of food, water and medical support. The National Hurricane Program, a partnership between FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Hurricane Center, also provides training and informational tools to emergency managers.

The Facebook video cites an article from Real Raw News, a website that publishes fabricated stories, including some USA TODAY has debunked. A disclaimer found on the site's "About Us" page states it "contains humor, parody, and satire." The notice, however, is not included in the website's articles.

Our rating: False

Based on our research, we rate FALSE the claim that the Navy sunk a FEMA barge. Officials from the Navy and FEMA said there is no truth to the claim. FEMA does not have ships like the one described in the video.

Our fact-check sources:

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Our fact-check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: No, the Navy did not sink a FEMA barge


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