Tanker ship sideswipes Bay Bridge tower


Part of the outer hull of the 750-foot oil tanker Overseas Raymar was crushed after the ship side-swiped he 6th tower of the Bay Bridge at 11:20 a.m.

Within minutes of the accident Caltrans had a structures maintenance team at the tower to do a safety evaluation and they say it appears the impacted barrier performed as it was designed to.

"About 30-40 feet of the fender system has been damaged and it will need to be replaced; it was damaged in the way it was supposed to," Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney said.

Visibility was at one-quarter mile at the time the tanker struck the bridge. A San Francisco Bar pilot and the ship's captain were in control at the time of the incident. The vessel was detained and ordered to anchor while investigators continue to check the extent of the damage. A large piece of wood composite was visible which broke off from the fender that protects the towers on the bridge. The bar pilot and the crew will be tested for drugs and alcohol.

The tanker was headed out to sea at the time of the incident.

Traffic in the bay and on the bridge was never interrupted.

In 2007, the Cosco Busan spilled 50,000 gallons of bunk fuel into the bay after colliding with a Bay Bridge tower in dense fog. The oil spill forced the closure of 50 local beaches and killed more than 6,800 birds. An investigation uncovered crucial mistakes by the bar pilot and the ship's captain. The pilot received a 10-month prison sentence for breaking several federal laws.

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