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New rules in Frisco Bay

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The U.S. Coast Guard has enforced new rules preventing outbound ships weighing more than 1,600 tons from passing under San Francisco’s Bay Bridge during heavy fog.

The new restrictions aim to prevent marine casualties similar to January’s Overseas Reymar allusion, as well as the 2007 Cosco Busan disaster. Fog was a factor in both of these incidents where visibility was about a quarter-mile.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the USCG implemented the rules after the San Francisco Harbor Safety Committee voted unanimously to bar ships weighing more than 1,600 gross tons from sailing out of the bay when visibility is less than half a mile.

Although the rules are voluntary, the Coast Guard said it expects universal compliance.

Under the new rules, announced in mid-February, ships must radio their location and report any restricted weather conditions to the Vessel Traffic Service. If visibility is not severely restricted, vessels heading out to sea will be allowed to pass through the two widest gaps between towers. When visibility is less than half a mile, outbound ships will be kept in port, while inbound ships will be advised to use extreme caution.

The safety panel left out inbound vessels from the visibility rule because of worries that it could threaten the ships’ safety outside the Golden Gate Bridge.

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