wave.jpgThe pilot of an empty oil tanker that hit the Bay Bridge on Monday morning has been identified as Guy Kleess, a San Francisco bar pilot since 2005.

The tanker, the Overseas Reymar, was headed out to sea at about 11:20 a.m. when it struck a fender on the eastern tower of the bridge’s western span, U.S. Coast Guard officials said.

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.

About 30 to 40 feet of the bridge tower’s fender was damaged by the boat, but the bridge has been deemed safe, Caltrans officials said.

The National Transportation Safety Board announced this morning that the agency would be investigating the incident, which it classified as a “major marine casualty” because it caused more than $500,000 in property damage, NTSB officials said.

The NTSB will coordinate its investigation with the U.S. Coast Guard.

The agency also investigated the 2007 Cosco Busan spill, in which a tanker hit a fender on the other tower of the bridge’s western span, causing more than 53,000 gallons of heavy bunker fuel to leak into the Bay.

Kleess is being interviewed by the Coast Guard today, a San Francisco Bar Pilots Association spokesman said.

The Marshall Islands-registered Overseas Reymar, a double-hulled ship owned by OSG Ship Management Inc., is being held east of Alcatraz Island as the accident is investigated.

The ship had dropped off its load of fuel before striking the Bay Bridge. There was about a quarter-mile of visibility in the Bay at the time of the accident, authorities said.

Kleess, the pilot, graduated from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., in 1976, according to a bio released by the bar pilots’ association today.

He worked at Exxon Shipping Co. from 1976 to 1990. At Exxon, he sailed as a third mate and third engineer, second mate, chief mate, and captain.

After completing the SF bar pilot training program in 2005, he has worked in part as a river pilot for the ports of Stockton and Sacramento since 2009.

He has made 1,160 trips as a pilot since 2005, according to the association.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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