San Francisco Bay Bridge Allision

John Konrad
Total Views: 9
November 8, 2007

Damaged ship after hiting San Franciso's Bay Bridge

“At 8:30 am this morning, the Cosco Busan, an 810-foot container ship, collided with the base of one of the towers of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while the ship was under the control of a Bar Pilot. The crash created a huge gash in the side of the ship and triggered an oil leak that created an environmental mess in San Francisco Bay.” More to come but Telstar Logistics has the full story from a local perspective LINK.

In related news New York’s Ambrose Light experienced an allision earlier this week but this one seems to be part of a trend. I don’t have specifics on this particular incident but the previous ones we’ve heard of were due to failed crash astern tests, a requirement of the port, that were conducted too close to the pilot station. Gothamist has the details on this one LINK.

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For a look at the worst case scenario for pilots read our post titled: May 9, 1980, Tampa – Skyway Bridge Disaster

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Notes of interest for our non mariner readers;

  • A pilot is taken on in an advisory role only all final decisions and responsibility remain with the captain at all times.
  • In reality Captain’s are heavily reliant on local pilots and nearly always give the pilot full command of the ship, meaning the pilot is the one giving helm commands and related orders.
  • With the pilot “giving the orders” the captain serves to advise him of the vessel’s capabilities/faults and monitors the progress.
  • Since the captain retains legal control of the vessel at all times he has the right and duty to over ride any of the pilot’s commands and remove him altogether if necessary. Making this decision, however, is considered an extreme action and only rarely occur in U.S. ports.
  • The Pilot’s role as an advisor protects him from nearly all legal responsibility in regards to the allision.


  • A collision is between two moving vessels. An incident is referred to as an “allision” if it occurs between a ship and a stationary object.
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