An Early Challenge
Blinding fog and troublesome winds have not always stood alone in aggravating navigation efforts in San Francisco Bay. Floating hazards from rotting piers, sunken vessels and storm-tossed debris have also taken their toll in plenty a sailor's mishap.
Despite the danger to shipping, it was a seaplane accident that ultimately compelled authorization of a hazard removal program. In June 1942, Admiral Chester Nimitz, recently appointed Commander in Chief - Pacific Fleet, was on his way to Washington D.C. via San Francisco. While landing on San Francisco Bay, the seaplane he was aboard struck floating debris, ripping the bottom of the craft open and causing it to capsize. The pilot was lost forever to the bay, while Admiral Nimitz escaped without serious injury.
Shortly after the incident, the Chief of Engineers, directed the San Francisco District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to begin a hazard collection debris program in San Francisco Bay. Early efforts were cumbersome but effective. During World War II, small tugs with crews of both civilian and Navy enlisted men patrolled bay waters daily collecting floating hazards and towing then to a disposal site at the Alameda Naval Air Station. The new challenge was underway ...
Workhorses of the Bay
Operated and maintained by the San Francisco District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the floating hazard collection boat, the Raccoon is a welcome sight on San Francisco Bay. Docked in Sausalito, the boat ranges far and wide patrolling for floating hazards in bay waters, with diligent efforts keeping navigation channels open for safe passage.
Using converted Navy aircraft recovery vessels from World War II proved to be the best response to the problem of hazard collection
The Corps obtained the vessel from surplus in 1959 and modified the hull in 1962. In addition, pilothouses were added and the crane modified on the Raccoon to ease the hard work of hazard collection.
Like their counterparts in nature, the Raccoon is an efficient scavenger.
You Can Help!
Report floating hazards when you see them. Be prepared to leave your name, phone number, exact location of the hazard, time of day when the hazard was sighted and direction of movement.
Report floating hazards to:
San Francisco District Operations Building at (415) 332-0334