The Bay Bridge received a glancing blow Monday morning from an oil tanker traveling underneath it, but no oil spill was reported and there was no major damage to the vessel or bridge, authorities said.
The tanker, the Overseas Reymar, was headed out to sea at about 11:20 a.m. when it struck a fender on the far-east tower of the western span of the bridge, U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Shawn Lansing said at a news conference Monday afternoon.
Coast Guard aircraft and boats quickly responded and found no signs of a spill and determined that everyone aboard the 752-foot vessel was safe, Lansing said.
Caltrans crews also responded and determined that the bridge was safe for traffic, which was not stopped at any time during the incident, agency spokesman Bart Ney said.
About 30 to 40 feet of the fender on the bridge tower was damaged by the boat. The boat struck the fender on its rear starboard side, Ney said.
“It was basically a scrape,” he said.
The double-hulled Overseas Reymar, a Marshall Islands-registered vessel owned by OSG Ship Management U.K., sustained crushing to the outer hull but its inner hull remained intact, Lansing said.
The boat, which had no petroleum cargo onboard after it recently dropped off fuel oil in Martinez, is currently anchored east of Alcatraz Island while Coast Guard crews investigate the incident and make sure no fuel was spilled, Lansing said.
Lansing said investigators could spend the next several days looking into “whether it’s human error or something else” that caused the boat to strike the bridge tower.
He said there was about a quarter-mile of visibility in the Bay at the time of the allision.
The San Francisco Bar Pilots Association released a statement Monday saying the pilot aboard the vessel has been a San Francisco bar pilot since 2005 and is scheduled to be interviewed by the Coast Guard on Tuesday.
The incident brought reminders of the 2007 Cosco Busan spill where a tanker hit a fender on another tower of the western span of the bridge, causing more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel to leak into the Bay.
The spill killed nearly 7,000 birds and deposited oil on more than 3,300 acres of shoreline habitat, officials said.
The fenders, which were initially installed in 1936, were upgraded following the Cosco Busan spill and “worked as designed” Monday, Ney said.
“The bridge is safe and open,” he said, adding that Monday’s incident will not affect the ongoing construction on a new eastbound span of the bridge.
Dan McMenamin/Sasha Lekach, Bay City News