Tanker that Hit San Francisco Bay Bridge Was Reportedly Warned

Byline: Associated Press/Paul Elias

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — An empty oil tanker that crashed into the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was warned prior to striking the bridge tower, the Coast Guard said.

The nature of the warning remained undisclosed, but the Coast Guard said in a statement Jan. 8 that a dispatcher with the Vessel Traffic Service, which monitors large ship traffic on San Francisco Bay, warned the tanker before it scraped the bridge Jan. 7.

Investigators were examining the recorded conversation between the ship and dispatcher along with a host of other factors, Coast Guard spokesman Dan Dewell said Jan. 9.

No further details about the warning will be released until the investigation is complete, Dewell said.

The Coast Guard has classified the crash of the 752-foot Overseas Reymar as a “major marine casualty,” because property damage exceeded $500,000.

Dozens of feet of a protective fender wrapped around the support tower were damaged, but Caltrans said no structural damage was done to the bridge.

In addition, no oil leaks were reported and the bridge remained open. No crewmembers were injured.

Bar pilots are required by state law to guide every large vessel in, out and around San Francisco Bay.

The ship was being piloted by San Francisco bar pilot Guy Kleess, who has been a bar pilot since 2005.

Records from the state Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun show that Kleess was involved in three previous minor accidents. He was held responsible for two and ordered to undergo more training after a ship he was piloting damaged a dock in Stockton in 2009, according to board records.

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