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Tanker Crew Warned Before Bay Bridge Collision; Damage May Top $2M

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

The San Francisco Chronicle did not elaborate Tuesday on the nature of the warning but said it was issued by the Vessel Traffic Service, which is in contact with large commercial ships on the bay.

The Coast Guard reported the warning after a review of audio recordings.

The 752-foot Overseas Reymar struck the bridge tower on Monday. The Coast Guard has classified the crash as a "major marine casualty" because it exceeded $500,000 in property damage.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission estimates the price tag could top $2 million.

Damage Estimated At $2 Million Following Bay Bridge Oil Tanker Accident

"We generally get this money repaid to us from the boat who hit it," said Randy Rentschler with the MTC.  "But we need to go out and fix this right away.  We're not going to wait."

He said divers have already gone beneath the water to assess the damage.

"While you see this fender surrounding the base of the bridge, you have to understand that that fender is secured way down into the water," Rentschler said.  "So they need to go down and inspect it to see where the damage manifests itself."

Repair costs following the Cosco Busan accident in 2007 reached $3 million.  Following that incident, the fender systems on all Bay Area bridges were strengthened.

During Monday's incident, no oil leaks were reported and the bridge remained open. No crew members were injured.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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