By Tony Hicks
Friday, November 9th, 2007 at 8:21 am in Uncategorized.
While everyone rushes around to respond to the oil spill in the Bay this week, I’d like to calmly ask a quick question.
How the HELL can you ram your ship into the Bay Bridge?
It’s not like anyone in the remote vicinity (1,000 miles, give or take) doesn’t know exactly where the thing is. It hasn’t moved in the past 70 years or so. And, I’d also like to point out, it’s one of the biggest bridges in the world. The thing is frickin’ HUGE. And it’s RIGHT THERE. You know, it’s not like the thing suddenly pops up once you race around Dead Man’s Curve. It’s not a little kid suddenly running into the street chasing a basketball (I don’t think the Bay Bridge even likes basketball). This isn’t like driving a motorcyle on Crow Canyon Road in the rain at midnight. It’s the BAY BRIDGE.
I’ve seen these ships plod through the bay. It’s not like they’re going so fast, the pilot looks up and suddenly there’s just a big bridge in the way. Yeah, yeah, so it was foggy. It’s San Francisco in November. It’s ALWAYS foggy. If they can’t see the thing, don’t they have radar or something to tell them where it is? If they can’t see it, can’t they, like, stop or something and send a guy out in a rowboat to find it. Can’t they call the Coast Guard and ask where it is? Don’t they have a guy wearing an eyepatch and a bandanna in the crow’s nest with a parrot on his shoulder, ready to shout out “Giant bridge, ahoy!”
And, this is a logistical question, but this was a cargo ship that dumped 58,000 gallons into our bay. Do all ships have that much raw, sticky crude hanging around the waterline? That’s kind of frightening. I hope this captain doesn’t moonlight piloting tankers, or we’d really be screwed.
And the captain and crew passed their alcohol tests, which almost makes it worse. At least then they’d have an excuse. They weren’t drunk, just incompetent.
Today’s story says the Coast Guard is investigating the cause. Did the steering wheel get stuck? Did the pilot accidentally step on the gas when he meant to hit the brakes? Did he spill coffee on his lap, momentarily distracting him from that HUGE BRIDGE DEAD AHEAD?
Sorry, but this has to rank up there as one of the all-time maritime blunders. I just don’t see how it’s possible to miss that big gap between bridge pillars. It’s just a good thing it wasn’t worse. Nothing worse than someone coming into your backyard and making a huge, stinking mess and leaving the homeowners stuck cleaning it up.
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