The pilot of an oil tanker that struck a fender of the Bay Bridge in January had his license suspended for at least five months by a state board in San Francisco today.
Pilot Guy Kleess was also placed on probation for two years and ordered by the Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun to undergo several training programs.
The board announced its decision, which had been recommended by an incident review committee, after a closed session at its headquarters in San Francisco this morning.
Kleess was piloting the 752-foot Overseas Reymar when it struck a fender on a tower of the bridge on Jan. 7. No oil spilled from the tanker, which was empty, and no one aboard was injured, but the accident caused $1.6 million in damage to the fender and ship, according to an April report by the review committee.
The disciplinary action was agreed to in a settlement with the board and Kleess.
Kleess’ lawyer, Rex Clack, said the pilot accepts the agreement and looks forward to getting back to work eventually.
Clack said, “Today’s agreement will enable Capt. Kleess to return to duty upon meeting the terms of the agreement.”
The training requirement includes programs in radar techniques and emergency ship handling. Kleess is also required to make 30 observation trips in which he watches other pilots navigate ships under the Bay Bridge.
Prior to the January crash, Kleess had three minor incidents on his record since being licensed by the board in 2005, but those incidents did not result in any restrictions placed on his license.
Clack said Kleess has been a professional mariner for more than 35 years.
Julie Cheever, Bay City News