By Don Ford

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Plenty of odd things get dumped into San Francisco Bay every single day, but it’s the U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers that takes responsibility of cleaning up all that debris when it floats to the surface.

At 7 a.m. Tuesday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers is already out on the Bay, searching for logs, trees and all manner of strange stuff.

Boat Captain Kixon Meyer has seen plenty of peculiar items in San Francisco Bay.

“Probably the oddest thing, with the exception of floating cars, refrigerators,” said Meyer. “And a Jacuzzi with chlorinated water still in it!”

The Army Corps of Engineers uses a specialized, all-aluminum, high-speed boat named the John Dillard for bay clean-up. It is equipped with a crane to find and remove the debris before a ferry or fishing boat runs into the flotsam.

Ferry often are flying across the bay with 300 people at nearly 35 miles an hour.

Golden Gate Ferries’ Supervising Vessel Master Robert Barley says the debris can cause major problems.

“Probably put a significant hole in the boat or wipe out the running gear,” explained Barley. “You’d lose a propeller or rudder and possible be dead in the water.”

No refrigerators or cars were spotted Tuesday, but the John Dillard did find giant pilings that — from the looks of things — may have been floating in the bay for years. Steel spikes and sea weed cover the logs.

Then U.S. Coast Guard vessel traffic called asking the crew to look for a capsized vessel near the Richmond San Rafael Bridge.

“We were focused on looking for a overturned, capsized vessel the VTS — that’s Vessel Traffic — reported out last night as a hazard to navigation,” explained Kixon.

The upside down boat was described as an abandoned derelict. But after an hour of searching, no boat was found. However, these guardians of the bay are always on guard.

“I’m glad they’re out there! We call them all the time when we see debris. We’ll call the Army Corps of Engineers,” said Barley.

The John Dillard is on patrol four days a week. The busiest time for the Corps is during winter storms.

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