New rules for shipping in fog on SF Bay

After studying the aftermath of the Cosco Busan’s collision with the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the U.S. Coast Guard issued new restrictions Thursday for ships traveling on the bay during dense fog.

The Coast Guard will now limit vessels from sailing on the bay when foggy conditions limit visibility by less than half a mile. The guidelines apply to ships weighing more than 1,600 gross tons – such as tankers, large cargo vessels and cruise ships. The rules affect nine San Francisco Bay areas including those near the Bay Bridge, the San Mateo Bridge and the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge.

According to the report, the decision to set sail in dense fog played a key role in the November 7, 2007 collision with the bridge. The Coast Guard also revealed that at least four other ships decided against sailing that morning because of the foggy conditions.

The ship’s pilot captain has already pleaded not guilty in federal court to two misdemeanor violations in connection with the spill.

The Cosco Busan spilled more than 53,000 gallons of toxic oil into the bay, stained miles of Bay Area and ocean shoreline and killed at least 2,500 birds.

See: Cosco Busan faulted for sailing in heavy fog, San Francisco Chronicle