SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - An empty oil tanker caused minor damage Monday when it struck a tower in the middle of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge while navigating beneath the hulking span, officials said.
The 752-foot Overseas Reymar from the Marshall Islands rammed the tower about 11:20 a.m. as it headed out to sea, according to the Coast Guard and state transportation officials.
The mishap did not affect traffic on the busy bridge - the main artery between San Francisco and Oakland.
The parent company that owns the ship, OSG Ship Management Inc., said the accident occurred as the vessel hit an underwater portion of the massive bridge structure.
The Overseas Reymar was not carrying oil as cargo on Monday, only fuel to power its engines, said Charlie Goodyear, a spokesman for the San Francisco Bar Pilots Association.
Coast Guard authorities said no oil or hazardous materials were reported to have leaked into the water. Still, officials spread 4,000 feet of absorbent material on the water to be safe.
No crew members on the ship were injured, and its hull appeared to suffer some scrapes and minor indentations but was not breached, Goodyear added.
"There's all kinds of speculation as to whether the ship had been pushed into the fender by a strong tide, rather than a head-on collision," Goodyear said. "In comparing this to 2007, this appears to be a much lesser impact."
California Emergency Management Agency spokesman Jordan Scott said the superstructure of the bridge was fine.
A fender system made of steel and wooden timbers has been built onto the west span to absorb such strikes.
Investigators have not yet said why the crash occurred. The tanker docked west of Yerba Buena Island immediately following the crash, and the pilot was being interviewed by both the Coast Guard and the California Board of Pilot Commissioners for the Bays of San Francisco, San Pablo and Suisun, which regulates bar pilots.