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Additional Information Released Regarding Downed Cyclone Helicopter

Operation REASSURANCE

One member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was killed on Wednesday April 29, 2020 and five other members remain missing following an accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Killed was Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Maritime Systems Engineering Officer, originally from Toronto, Ontario.

Confirmed missing are:

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 Weapons Officer, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia

Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, originally from Guelph, Ontario

HMCS Fredericton and NATO allies continue to search for the other five members of the helicopter’s crew.

The helicopter was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea with HMCS Fredericton as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 under Operation REASSURANCE. At the time of the accident, the Canadian ship was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships. The Cyclone was conducting concurrent flight operations.

The CAF are providing our members and their families with as much support as possible to include a wide range of resources to help them through this difficult time.

A RCAF Flight Safety team will depart Canada shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival.

“I was deeply saddened to learn yesterday of the tragic incident involving a Cyclone helicopter off the coast of Greece and the loss of our members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I wish to express my deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing with our NATO Allies for the five missing members and all available resources are being dedicated to this effort. This accident is a painful reminder of the dangers that members of Canada’s military face every day to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.”   The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“To their families, friends, and shipmates, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. There are no words to describe the pain that you feel right now, nor are there any words that can ease it. Please know that the entire Canadian Armed Forces is with you.”  General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Yesterday was a tragic day for our military family. I am profoundly saddened by this accident and I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of our fallen member and the five who remain missing.”  Lieutenant General Mike Rouleau, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, issued the following statement:

“Our hearts are heavy with the recent news from HMCS Fredericton. There are no words to describe a loss as tragic as this. On behalf of the entire Air Force and Navy family, we offer our deepest condolences, love and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this devastating loss.

“Our thanks go out to all those involved in search efforts and in particular our NATO partners operating in the area.

“This incident serves as a difficult reminder of the sacrifice that our brave men and women face daily while defending and representing our nation, both at home and abroad. It also serves to remind us all how dangerous even routine operations at-sea and in the air can be. In the face of these realities, the sailors and aviators aboard Navy frigates operate as one team – one family – a family that today mourns together.

“To the families and loved ones of Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, and Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke – we extend our deepest sympathies. As we take the time to come to terms with this tragedy, our thoughts are with you and we stand ready to support you through these difficult times.”

 

ADDITIONAL INFO

 

  • A Flight Safety Investigation will be conducted to ensure our personnel can continue to have confidence in our equipment and procedures. One of the aims of the Flight Safety program is to investigate such occurrences with the objective of quickly identifying effective preventive measures that will either prevent or reduce the risk of similar occurrences in the future.
  • The CH-148 Cyclone was operating from HMCS Fredericton as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). The ship deployed from Halifax, N.S., on January 20, 2020 for a six-month deployment under Operation REASSURANCE.
  • HMCS Fredericton’s deployment is part of a range of military activities undertaken by the CAF to support NATO assurance and deterrence measures. These activities include the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrate Canada’s commitment to promote security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.
  • General Jonathan Vance declared that the Cyclone Helicopters have been put on “operational pause”. 

 

Commander of NATO Maritime Command, Vice Admiral Keith Blount expresses his condolences after a Canadian military helicopter crashed while operating in the Ionian Sea, between Greece and Italy on 29 April 2020.

“The end of this week has brought with it the tragic news of a helicopter crash from one of our NATO warships in the eastern Mediterranean. As one NATO family our sympathy, and prayers are extended to all involved, but particularly the family and friends of those who were on board the helicopter and the entire ship’s company of the Fredericton. Times like this remind us of the perils of operating at sea and the courage and commitment of those who do. With the equally resolute support of our families and loved ones we navigate these challenges, but it is never easy,” said Vice Admiral Blount.

A search continues with SNMG2 ships on scene (Flagship ITS Virginio Fasan, TCG Salihreis and HMCS Fredericton), two organic helicopters (One SH-70 and Two SH-90), rigid-hulled inflatable boats conducting the search for remaining five missing. ITS Carabinieri joined the SNMG2 units during the search operations. Two P-72 aircraft from the Italian Air Force 72th Squadron based in Sigonella Air Base (Sicily), as well as one SH-90 from the Italian Navy FREMM “ITS Carabiniere”, one SH-70 from the Hellenic Fleet and one US Navy P-8 Poseidon also contributed to the search, as well as one C130 from Hellenic Fleet on standby 15 minutes.

 

 

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