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Kentucky transportation officials are suing seven members of the crew of a cargo ship that struck and collapsed part of a bridge over the Tennessee River two years ago, causing millions in damage and diverting traffic for four months.
In a lawsuit that was moved to federal court this week, the state Transportation Cabinet said it spent at least $7 million to repair the Eggner's Ferry Bridge after the Delta Mariner struck it on Jan. 26, 2012.
The cabinet's lawsuit, initially filed in state court in January, said the ship's crew ignored repeated warnings from the U.S. Coast Guard and another vessel on the river that day about the navigation lights being out on the bridge.
The cargo ship's owner, Seattle-based Foss Maritime, said in a written statement Thursday that it doesn't comment on pending court actions.
"We have no estimate on when action will be taken in either of these cases," the statement said.
The state didn't specify how much it is seeking in damages from the crew members. Along with the $7 million in repairs, transportation officials say the state incurred $186,000 in compensable damages.
The National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the missed and ignored warnings were among a series of errors that led to the cargo ship striking and tearing down a 322-foot section of the span that carries traffic from near Aurora, Ky., to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky.
The Delta Mariner was carrying an Atlas rocket booster and other components for the U.S. Air Force's AEHF-2 mission from Decatur, Ala., to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, a trip that normally takes about 10 days. The rocket parts were not damaged, and there was no change in the scheduled launch date, the company has said.