The National Transportation Safety Board says the January 2012 allision between the cargo ship the Delta Mariner and the Eggners Ferry Bridge resulted from poor bridge span lighting and crew inattention to available navigational tools. The ship sheared off a 300 foot span of the bridge that crosses Kentucky Lake. No one was injured.
Despite multiple factors for the crash, NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said at a meeting on Tuesday that it seemed the crew could have prevented the crash.“Recognizing this was a professional crew and they have other tools at their disposal,” said Hersman. “They were actually all uncomfortable to, to me. The fact that they were not confident. Minutes before this happened, the pilot said he was not comfortable. Whatever it was, he was not comfortable. “
Hersman also said the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet had opportunities to repair the bridge lighting properly to prevent the accident. “We have the engineers that are not familiar with what the lighting scheme is supposed to be,” said Hersman. “Questions about institutional knowledge. What expectations were made. You had the Miss Caity alliding with the bridge in 2011. The canary in the coal mined telling you who have a problem here yet something going on.”
Board members said both KYTC and the Delta Mariner’s owner Foss Maritime have made efforts to fix the deficiencies that lead to the accident.
Here are the 14 findings from NTSB’s meeting:
- None of the following were found to be factors in the accident: the use and alcohol or illegal drugs, the mechanical condition of the Delta Mariner or its propulsion system -- or distractions from cell phones or other digital tools.
- At the time of the accident most of the navigation lights of Eggners Ferry bridge were extinguished including the lights of the main navigation span which was the intended route of the vessel.
- The majority of the white lights marking the center of the main navigation span had been extinguished for at least a year prior to the accident and likely for several years
- The Kentucky transportation cabinet failed to effectively maintain proper navigation lighting on Eggners Ferry bridge as required, and resolve recurring lighting problems and their causes.
- The contract pilot’s exclusive focus on the only bridge navigation lights that were illuminated; directed the vessel to span E which had insufficient clearance for the delta mariner.
- The passage plan provided inaccurate information for safe navigation on the inland waters portion of the intended journey.
- The bridge team overly relied on direction of the contract pilot despite his apparent uncertainty which resulted in the bridge team attempting to maneuver the vessel under the incorrect span.
- The contract pilot and the bridge team failed to effectively utilize all navigation tools such as the electronic charting system and radar as they approached Eggners Ferry Bridge.
- The Delta Mariner’s safety management system was not effectively implemented on board the vessel at the time of the accident.
- Foss Maritime company provided ineffective oversight of the safety of the Delta Mariner operations.
- The expertise, duties and responsibilities of the Delta Mariner’s contract pilots were inadequately defined.
- A lack of specific inspection procedures and inattention to navigation-light maintenance led to the ineffective oversight of the bridge navigation lighting maintenance in district one of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.
- The (U.S) Coast Guard's oversight for Eggners Ferry Bridge failed to identify recurring problems with the bridge lighting system as well as the inaccuracies of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinents report’s that lighting problems had been repaired.
- Traditional broadcast notices to mariners carried out over V.H.F radio may not be the most effective means for disseminating important navigation information.