Search efforts transition to recovery mission following helicopter accident

From: National Defence

Today, the search and rescue efforts of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) officially transitioned into search and recovery efforts, following Wednesday’s tragic accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter in the Mediterranean Sea.

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:

  • 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

Additional remains have been discovered during the search, but cannot be identified at this time. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will be doing everything possible over the next several days to confirm known details with the families.

NATO Allies will be continuing recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy. The ship is expected to arrive the morning of May 2, 2020, local time in Italy.

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

The helicopter was deployed with HMCS Fredericton in the Mediterranean Sea 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.

We extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends of our fallen and we hope they take comfort in knowing that you are not grieving alone.

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