Cargo ships sitting in the SF bay told to leave


The sight of a dozen or more container ships, each the length of the Salesforce Tower, sitting in the bay chugging diesel has become the norm for Bay Area residents and those driving over the Bay Bridge.

That's about to change, after the organizations responsible for the movement of the 200,000-ton ships in and out of the Port of Oakland launched new rules this week.

Previously, ships joined a queue on approaching the coast and anchored in the bay while awaiting their docking space. As of Monday, the vessels will instead receive an assignment time from the port and remain 50 miles off the coast while they wait, outside of a new zone named the the "Safety and Air Quality Area," leaving the bay waters open.

Container ships sit idle in the the San Francisco Bay just outside of the Port of Oakland on March 26, 2021 in San Francisco, California.

"The overall goal is to reduce congestion, to promote maritime safety and minimize air quality impacts," Port of Oakland spokesperson Roberto Bernardo told SFGATE over the phone. He said that on Wednesday, there are ten ships anchored in the Bay awaiting berth at the port. "The numbers should go down in the coming days, you'll see a dramatic decrease," he said.

The new off-shore queuing process was designed in a joint effort by the Pacific Maritime Association, the The Pacific Merchant Shipping Association and the Marine Exchange.

"The new process reduces emissions from vessels located near the Bay Area, and allows more space between vessels – an important safety feature during winter storms," The PMSA said in a statement to SFGATE, "The new procedure also enables vessels to slow steam across the Pacific, thereby reducing overall emissions throughout their journey."

"Air quality is a huge issue at all ports," Bernardo said. The Port of Oakland says it has reduced diesel emissions by 86% since 2005, largely through the use of "shore power," meaning the vesse... (Read more)

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