A BART train pulls out of Oakland's Rockridge station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A BART train pulls out of Oakland’s Rockridge station. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

BART halted trains between San Francisco and the East Bay for about 20 minutes around noon today after the Coast Guard alerted the agency about a ship that had dropped anchor near the Transbay Tube.

The Coast Guard called BART at about 11:55 a.m. to inform the transit agency about the incident, in which a ship lost propulsion and dropped its anchor to avoid drifting in the Bay.

BART briefly halted service through the tube so it could inspect the trackway. The agency says no damage has been found, although the tube will be inspected again when the system shuts down overnight tonight.

Service resumed at 12:18 p.m., BART said.

It’s not clear yet what kind of ship was involved or how close the anchor came to the tube. The structure consists of 57 sections and sits in a trench on the floor of the Bay. Its maximum depth beneath the surface is 135 feet.

A story last year in the San Francisco Examiner describes the tube’s protection against the elements and its vulnerability to anchor strikes:

To arm the tunnel’s exterior against the harmful effects of saltwater, the BART tube includes a series of “anode” that are connected by cables along the top of the structure. The electrical charge of the anodes helps convert the steel shell of the tube into a protective layer that doesn’t react negatively to the saltwater, preventing corrosion from eating into the structure.

However, the 30 anodes on the tube jut out nakedly into the water, and the devices are occasionally bashed by a waylaid anchor from one of the innumerable shipping tankers that arrive and depart daily in the Bay, according to BART Assistant General Manager Paul Oversier. The large ships are not supposed to drop anchor above the site, but incidents still occur occasionally.


Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area's transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED's comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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