Update 3:30 p.m.
An oil tanker struck the Bay Bridge "Echo" tower on Monday, but as of now the incident does not appear to have serious consequences. The tanker "Overseas Raymar" struck the bridge about 11:20 a.m. while headed out to sea after a drop-off in Martinez. The tanker was not carrying oil at the time.
Highlights from a joint press conference held by the Coast Guard and Caltrans...
- No leakage of any type from the vessel has been detected as of present.
- The vesssel was double-hulled. The outer hull was crushed, but there is no evidence of any damage to the inner hull.
- The bridge tower's fendering system worked as expected, sustaining damage but protecting the bridge itself, which appeared to go undamaged. The system has been in place since 1936 but was upgraded a few years ago.
- The collision was on the starboard side of the vessel. Caltrans called it a "scrape."
- The crew of the tanker will undergo drug and alcohol testing, as required by federal law.
- Visibility was about a quarter-mile at the time of the collision.
Update 6:55 p.m. Paul Rogers, managing editor of KQED Science, had the following to say to KQED's Stephanie Martin tonight...
This is a very serious accident. These oil tankers are roughly the size of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker. They carry millions of gallons of oil, and if that ship had hit the bridge any harder and broken open a hull, even if it was just bunker fuel, you would have had a large spill in the bay. Luckily this appears to be a minor grazing but I think it's really setting off a lot of alarm bells among environmentalists and maritime safety folks who thought we had improved a lot of safety after the 2008 Cosco Busan accident...
There were some recommendations put in, like people not sail when there's less than a half-mile of visibility. This morning there was a quarter-mile of visibility, so a big question is why was this pilot and this captain sailing.
Another question is what is the record of this pilot. The San Francisco Bar Pilot Association is not releasing his name. They say he's been a pilot for eight years, we don't know if he's had accidents in the past.
Update 8:25 p. m. From Paul Rogers and Natalie Neysa Alund in the Mercury News:
The pilot of the ship was identified as Guy Kleess, 61, of San Francisco, a former Exxon oil tanker captain who has been involved in at least three other shipping accidents since 2009.
Full story from AP...
(AP) SAN FRANCISCO — A tanker ship struck the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Monday, but there were no immediate reports of leaking oil and the bridge was open to traffic, officials said.
The tanker "Overseas Raymar" struck the bridge about 11:20 a.m. while headed out to sea, the Coast Guard said.
Coast Guard investigators were headed to the scene, spokeswoman Lt. Heather Lampert said.
She said the ship was from the Marshall Islands, but she did not immediately have additional details.
California Department of Transportation spokesman Bart Ney said a tower of the west span of the bridge was struck, and the ship appears to have moved on. Maintenance crews were heading out to inspect the structure, he said, although the tower appeared fine from a distance.
Ney said there is a fender system that has been built onto the west span that normally can absorb such strikes.
The strike came more than five years after the container ship Cosco Busan slammed into the bridge on a foggy morning and dumped 53,000 gallons of oil onto the water.
No one was injured but the spill contaminated 26 miles of shoreline. It also killed more than 2,500 birds of about 50 species and delayed the start of the crab-fishing season.
The cleanup cost exceeded $70 million. The ship's pilot, Capt. John Cota, served a 10-month prison sentence after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges.
The companies responsible for the Cosco Busan paid close to $60 million for the cleanup and in criminal fines.