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Bay Bridge ship safety rules to be reconsidered
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — As an oil tanker that struck a San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge tower was deemed safe to leave port on Friday, the Coast Guard was calling for reconsideration of rules that allow large ships to sail in fog near the span.

Capt. Cynthia Stowe, a top Coast Guard official, on Thursday asked the San Francisco Bay Harbor Safety Committee to reconsider the rules.

The 752-foot Overseas Reymar scraped a section of a protective fender on a bridge tower Monday as it headed out to sea.

No oil spilled as a result, the Coast Guard said.

The ship has been docked all week while investigators collected evidence, but was expected to leave the bay Friday with a tug escort after the Coast Guard determined it was safe to sail.

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker will still require repairs before returning to service, however.

Officials in 2008 exempted the Bay Bridge from a list of nine "critical maneuvering areas" where ship captains are told not to sail in dense fog.

The risk zones were created after the 901-foot cargo ship Cosco Busan struck the bridge in 2007 and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the bay. It had been sailing in a dense fog.

The harbor safety committee helps write shipping safety rules, and they will report back in two weeks with a preliminary recommendation.

Both the Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating Monday's accident, a process that may take several months to complete.