By Gerald McGill

October 19th 2012  3:15pm

Although the U.S. Air Force has released only limited details of a fatal accident which occurred on October 11 in Pensacola Bay, I have learned that the boat that struck Major Garrett Wayne Knowlan was owned by the U.S. Air Force but operated by employees of a civilian contractor, Metson Marine Services Inc. of Ventura, California.

The Air Force owns a vessel described as a 157-ton Over-Water Survival Launch Platform, commonly known as the “Big Dawg” and a fleet of five 35 foot Premium Parasail/Launch boats and five 41-foot MonArk Tow/Pick-Up boats.

The contract between the Air Force and Metson Marine states that Metson will operate the Over-Water Survival Launch Platform and the MonArk and Premium boats in the Pensacola Bay.

The Over-Water Survival Launch vessel serves as a stable floating platform enabling the safe Parasail ascent of student pilots and air crew members and the boats are used for parasail operations and to recover students participating in water survival training operations.  Tragically, it was one of these recovery boats that struck Major Knowlan.

Apparently the Air Force investigation is continuing.

More about Maritime Law.

Gerald McGill is a graduate of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and a former Commanding Officer of two Coast Guard Cutters

Farron Cousins is the executive editor of The Trial Lawyer magazine and a contributing writer at He is the co-host / guest host for Ring of Fire Radio. His writings have appeared on Alternet, Truthout, and The Huffington Post. Farron received his bachelor's degree in Political Science from the University of West Florida in 2005 and became a member of American MENSA in 2009. Follow him on Twitter @farronbalanced