The search and rescue efforts initiated following Wednesday’s tragic accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter in the Mediterranean Sea officially transitioned into search and recovery efforts on May 1.
The helicopter had four RCAF and two Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) members on board.
At this time, one member, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Marine Systems Engineering Officer, originally from Toronto, Ontario, has been confirmed deceased. The missing five members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially considered missing and presumed deceased.
The missing were identified as:
• Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Pilot, originally from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
• Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot, originally from Nanaimo, British Columbia
• Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer, originally from Trois-Rivières, Québec
• Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia
• Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, originally from Guelph, Ontario
The Department of National Defence (DND) said in a statement that additional remains have been discovered during the search, but cannot be identified at this time. The statement added that the CAF will be doing everything possible over the next several days to confirm known details with the families.
The Canadian CH-148 helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea while operating in waters between Greece and Italy. The crashed helicopter was based on the RCN Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton (FFH 337) participating in NATO’s SNMG2 (Standing NATO Maritime Group 2) naval task force in the Mediterranean Sea under CAF’s Operation REASSURANCE.
At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships. The Cyclone helicopter was conducting concurrent flight operations. In addition to HMCS Fredericton, the NATO SNMG2 naval task force also consists of Italian Navy FREMM-IT Class multi-purpose frigate ITS Virginio Fasan (F 594) and Turkish Navy Barbaros-class frigate TCG Salihreis (F-246).
NATO Allies will be continuing recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy. The ship is expected to arrive on the morning of May 2, 2020, local time in Italy.
An RCAF Flight Safety team will depart Canada today to investigate the circumstances of the accident. They will begin their work immediately upon arrival.