USCG Clears SF Bay Area Navigational Hazards from Unprecedented Storm

San Francisco storm
Three barges broke away among the many navigations hazards that were created (USCG photo)

Published Mar 24, 2023 7:27 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Coast Guard reports that it is responding to multiple maritime-related operations after recent storms crossed the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this week. On March 21 a storm that is being called “unprecedented” crossed the area with wind gusts reaching 60 to 80 mph, driving rain, and high surf. The USCG reports that the storm left multiple vessels, docks, and barges adrift, causing navigational safety issues around the San Francisco Bay Area.

All potential navigational hazards were mitigated through federal, state, local agency, and commercial partnerships. The storm kept multiple units busy responding to the challenges and attempting to maintain safety in what many believe was a “once-in-a-lifetime” event. City officials report that five people were killed in the storm and they received reports of 700 fallen trees.



Coast Guard Cutter Hawksbill, an 87-foot Marine Protector-class patrol boat, Station San Francisco, and an Oakland marine unit responded to several adrift docks with vessels moored to them in the Oakland Estuary area. All docks and vessels are safely secured.

Three 60-foot deck barges were adrift, causing an allision with the 3rd Street Bridge at McCovey Cove leading to Mission Creek. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco's Prevention Department was made aware of the situation and broadcasted a Notice to Mariners, noting that the area was closed to navigation. 

A finalized assessment of the bridge is pending the completion of an inspection by engineers. Coast Guard pollution responders observed no evidence of pollution, and the barges were secured with the assistance of tugs.



Coast Guard Station Golden Gate also responded to multiple adrift vessels in Richardson's Bay, Sausalito, and the Tiburon area. All vessels were secure, and persons were assisted.

Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Services maintained communications with San Francisco bar pilots to ensure the continued safe movements of commercial vessels.

Coast Guard Air Station San Francisco also conducted an overflight of the San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers to better understand maritime safety for the main ship channels.

The Coast Guard reports that it is continuing to monitor situations across the San Francisco Bay Area and respond as needed.