Kentucky Bridge Collapses After Being Hit by Cargo Ship

Posted in Kentucky Maritime News on January 27, 2012

delta mariner cargo ship

M/V Delta Mariner. Photo: Boeing

A cargo ship carrying a load of empty rocket booster cores struck a bridge in western Kentucky taking a nearly 300 foot portion of the bridge with it as she passed underneath.

According to authorities, the M/V Delta Mariner struck the Eggner Ferry Bridge at approximately 8:10pm local time on Thursday, causing two spans of the U.S. 68/KY 80 bridge stretching over the Kentucky Lake to collapse onto the vessels bow.  Authorities have said that there have been no reported injuries from the collision and they do not believe any vehicles fell from the bridge.  Meanwhile the U.S. Coast Guard adds that the M/V Delta Mariner was not carrying any hazardous cargo.

Owned and operated by Foss Maritime, the 312-foot long M/V Delta Mariner is generally used to carry Boeing rocket components, including rocket boosters, for the Boeing Delta IV rocket program.  The vessel is designed to navigate shallow inland waterways and open ocean.  The vessel is generally tasked with haulig rocket components the Boeing factory in Decatur, Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico, according to Foss’ website.

The two-lane bridge Eggner Ferry Bridge is located at the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and is crossed, on average, by approximately 2,800 cars per day.  Luckily, no cars were on the section of the bridge that collapsed onto the M/V Delta Mariner.

An investigation into the cause of the allision is ongoing however a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman told the Associated Press that he believes most of the navigational lights were functioning on the bridge at the time of impact.  Other reports indicate that high water may have played a role in the crash and that the vessel may have passed under the wrong span of the bridge, providing the vessel has been making trip for the past 10 years without problems.

The accident is the latest example proving that offshore and marine accidents can and do happen during routine transits and operations.  Luckily in this case no one was injured however a 300 foot span of twisted metal and concrete laying across the ships bow could have easily resulted in the loss of life or injury.  If you are a U.S. mariner and find yourself injured while onboard a vessel it’s always a good idea to find a good Jones Act lawyer by state.