Bananas being removed from hull of ship
In warm weather ports, such as New Orleans, Mobile, and Los Angeles, the systems
allowed for laborers to unload 2,000 banana bunches per hour. Unlike cold weather
facilities, the southern and western systems were permanently located and specialized
in the task of unloading bananas. Giant booms lowered conveyor belts equipped
with pockets into the ship's hold and lifted out the cargo to horizontal conveyors.
As the banana carriers arrived at the terminal, banana handlers climbed into the
bow of the vessel where the banana stocks were solidly packed.
Bananas moving along conveyor belts
A team of 12 men worked at each level of the ship's hull, loading the stocks
to the conveyor belts. It generally took the workers 2 days to unload a banana
carrier. The horizontal conveyors aligned with numerous rows of awaiting railcars.
This parallel system of conveyors permitted workers to load far more railcars
simultaneously. Workers counted and weighed the bananas as they passed through
the system. Quality control workers examined the fruit for disease, blemishes,
or ripening. Any yellowing bananas were sent directly to local markets because
only green unripened bananas would survive the long trip out of state.