Canadian military helicopter crashes off the coast of Greece: reports

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Keeping fingers crossed. That all onboard survived.

Canadian military helicopter crashes off the coast of Greece: reports

Posted April 29, 2020 1:58 pm
Updated April 29, 2020 2:04 pm
There are reports a Canadian NATO helicopter has crashed off the coast of Greece.

The Associated Press wire service has published a report saying that a military helicopter operating off of a Canadian frigate went missing while taking part in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean.

Global News has learned the Canadian military is now in a communication lockdown.

A spokesperson for NATO confirmed that there has been an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command but did not identify the member military operating the helicopter.


A search and rescue mission is underway, the spokesperson added.

The wire service report cited Greek state TV as saying the helicopter went missing in the sea between Greece and Italy, and that other NATO allied frigates are conducting a search operation.

Greek authorities said they have not been asked to help as the area is far off the Greek mainland and outside the area where the country has responsibility for search and rescue operations.

With files from The Associated Press.

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Canadian military helicopter reported missing while operating in Mediterranean

From City News 1130 – link to story and updates

Canadian military helicopter reported missing while operating in Mediterranean

BY THE CANADIAN PRESS ~ Posted Apr 29, 2020

OTTAWA — Defence officials are scrambling following reports a Canadian military helicopter has gone missing while participating in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean Sea.

Greek TV says the helicopter, which is believed to have been one of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s new Cyclones, went missing in the sea between Greece and Italy while operating off a Canadian frigate.

A NATO spokeswoman confirmed an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command and says a search-and-rescue operation is underway, but did not reveal the nationality of the aircraft or vessels.

HMCS Fredericton left Halifax for a six-month deployment around Europe in January with a Cyclone on board, which included a port call in Italy in March.

The military’s 18 Cyclone helicopters carry four-person crews and first began flying real missions in late 2018 after more than a decade of developmental challenges and delays.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2020.

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1 hour ago, Marshall said:

Canadian military helicopter crashes off the coast of Greece: reports one official has said it is missing, could have "ditched" who knows???

Let us hope the guys are floating around waiting for rescue...The bad thing, so fa.r is "no Coms". which is not a good sign...

Edited by Kip Powick
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Not looking good


Military Helicopter Lost in Sea Between Italy and Greece

Wed April 29, 2020 - Associated Press

ATHENS, Greece — A military helicopter operating off a Canadian frigate taking part in a NATO operation in the Mediterranean crashed into the sea between Greece and Italy, killing at least one person, Greek state TV reported Wednesday.

ERT said debris from the crash and one body were located late Wednesday, leaving the five others aboard the aircraft missing.

Greek media said the Sikorsky Sea King took off from the HMCS Fredericton, a Halifax-class frigate that was with other NATO vessels in the area. No further information was immediately available.

Greek authorities said they had not been asked to help as the area is far off the Greek mainland and outside the area where the country has responsibility for search and rescue operations.

A NATO statement said only that there was “an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command.” It said a search and rescue operation was underway.


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An honest question and not to start a political debate....but did the new cyclone ever meet or exceed the capabilities of the Cormorant?? I realize there were a lot of teething problems with the Sikorsky.

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Defence minister Harjit Sajjan said the U.S., Italy, Greece and other allies are involved in ongoing search and rescue efforts. The cause of the accident is unknown at this time, Sajjan said. “We have recovered the flight data recorder from the helicopter,” he added.

OTTAWA — The Canadian Armed Forces has identified the five service members missing in Wednesday's helicopter crash off the coast

Canadian military helicopter crashes in sea off Greece; 1 dead, 5 missing




OTTAWA (Reuters) - One body has been recovered and five people are missing after a Canadian military helicopter crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Greece on Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

The crew of a C-148 Cyclone helicopter, attached to Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Fredricton, which crashed in the Mediterranean Sea are seen in a combination of file photos released April 30, 2020. From top left to right are Naval Warfare Officer Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator Maritime Systems Engineering Officer Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough and from bottom left to right are pilot Captain Kevin Hagen, Air Combat Systems Officer Captain Maxime Miron-Morin and pilot Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald. Royal Canadian Navy/Handout via REUTERS.

The HMCS Fredericton, participating in NATO’s Operation Reassurance meant to bolster security in Central and Eastern Europe, lost contact with a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter during a training exercise.

“All of them are heroes. Each of them will leave a void that cannot be filled,” Trudeau said in a news conference.

“The cause of this accident is unknown at this time,” Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan said. The aircraft’s data and voice recorders have been recovered, he said.

General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff, said there was a “very sizable debris field” in an area of the Ionian Sea where the aircraft crashed.


“We will leave no stone unturned,” in the search for survivors, Sajjan told Reuters in a telephone interview. “Regrettably, this incident is another example of the dangers that our women and men face every single day.”

Vance said the body recovered was that of Abbigail Cowbrough. Tanya Cowbrough, the mother of Abbigail, commented on Facebook: “Nothing can replace her.”

“I am broken and gutted,” Shane Cowbrough, Abbigail’s father, wrote on Facebook. “There are no words. You made me forever proud. I will love you always, and miss you in every moment. You are the bright light in my life taken far too soon.”

The names of those missing are Matthew Cousins, Kevin Hagen, Ian MacDonald, Maxime Miron-Morin, and Matthew Pyke, the Department of National Defence said.

It would be Canada’s single deadliest military tragedy in 13 years if search efforts do not locate any survivors. In July 2007, six soldiers were killed together by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.


Canada’s military put its Cyclone helicopters on an “operational pause” after the crash, Vance said, until a “fleet-wide” problem can be ruled out. The Cyclone is made by Lockheed Martin’s Sikorsky unit.

“I don’t have concerns about the helicopter,” Vance said. Canada currently has 15 Cyclones in operation. “It’s performed terrifically. It’s got 9,000 hours on the fleet.”

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Canadian Forces chopper crashed in full view of multiple witnesses, military confirms

One expert says recovering wreckage will be critical to concluding the crash investigation

Murray Brewster · CBC News · Posted: May 04, 2020 7:51 PM ET | Last Updated: 2 hours ago
Cpl. Chris Rodusek, second left, guides a CH-148 Cyclone helicopter into position aboard HMCS Fredericton during Operation Reassurance on Jan. 22, 2020. (Cpl. Simon Arcand/Canadian Armed Forces/Combat Camera)

Call sign 'Stalker' — the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter that crashed last week in the Ionian Sea off Greece — was only moments away from a scheduled landing aboard HMCS Fredericton when it went down in full view of horrified shipmates who were preparing to receive it aboard the frigate.

"There were eyewitnesses to the accident," said Dan LeBouthillier, head of media relations at the Department of National Defence, in an email.


"As part of their investigation, the Flight Safety investigation team will conduct interviews with these eyewitnesses."

The Canadian military acknowledged last week the five-year-old helicopter was on its way back to the warship and was "within two miles" of it when it inexplicably plunged into the water at 6:52 p.m. local time last Wednesday, killing all six people aboard — four aircrew and two sailors.

It was, in fact, close enough to be seen from the ship and was preparing to land when it hit the water.

The victims of the chopper crash (clockwise from top left): Capt. Kevin Hagen, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin. (Department of National Defence)

At the time, according to one former squadron commander, the frigate would have been "closed up at flight stations" and ready to receive the aircraft well ahead of its scheduled touchdown at 7:00 p.m. local time.

"Flying stations are normally called 15 minutes ahead of time, so everybody necessary for the recovery [can] be in the right places and that certain valves are turned on and turned off," said former colonel Larry McWha, who commanded 423 Squadron when it flew the CH-124 Sea Kings the Cyclone choppers recently replaced.

It would have been a busy flight deck, with aircraft maintainers, aircraft handlers and perhaps even a spare aircrew on hand. The most important person present would have been the landing safety officer, who sits in a glass tower to the one side of the flight deck.

A large number of witnesses

The landing safety officer would have been in radio communication with the helicopter during those fateful last moments, and would have had an unobstructed view of its approach.

"He would have been the person talking to the aircraft ahead of the recovery," said McWha.

The helicopter also would have been in radio contact with the warship's combat operation's centre, well forward of the flight deck, as it returned from a routine maritime surveillance exercise involving other NATO warships.

Depending on whether the aircraft was coming in to refuel and take off again or to land for the night, McWha said, there would have been a dozen or more crew members preparing for its landing. Some may have watched its approach.

And that means there could be a large number of witnesses to be interviewed by flight safety investigators now in Taranto, Italy, where HMCS Fredericton docked over the weekend.

The warship was able to recover the helicopter's flight safety recorders, which are designed to break away and float to the surface after a crash.

Those devices are now in Ottawa at the National Research Council, where they will be analyzed, said LeBouthillier.

Deep water

The helicopter crashed in water roughly 3,000 metres deep, which is complicating efforts to recover human remains and pieces of the aircraft.

McWha said that retrieving as much of the aircraft as possible will be critical to the investigation. Flight data recorders, he said, can only yield so much information about what was going on mechanically with the helicopter.

"The recorders will tell you what was going on. The wreckage will tell you why something went wrong," McWha said.

The Cyclone helicopter fleet is on what the military calls an "operational pause" while the preliminary investigation is underway.

ITS Fasan, HMCS Fredericton and TCG Salihreis train together with Italian frigates Alpino and Federico Martinengo near the Italian coast on April 17, 2020. (

Getting to the bottom of the crash is going to be crucial for the future of the maritime helicopter program and public perception, said a defence procurement and management expert.

"A lot depends on the findings of the investigation and if there is something that can be tied to the operation of the helicopter," said Dave Perry, vice president of the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.

A fatal fire aboard HMCS Chicoutimi in 2004 left a mark on the submarine program in terms of public and political perception. 

The submarine fire should be a cautionary tale because "once you have a stigma, it takes a long time to dissipate," said Perry.

Originally ordered in 2004, the Cyclone was introduced into the service only within the last couple of years, after almost a dozen years of development, delays and escalating cost estimates. The program was roundly criticized by the auditor general in 2010.

The former Conservative government toyed with the idea of cancelling the project in 2013, but backed away and negotiated a revised agreement with the manufacturer, Sikorsky.

The air force is still taking delivery of Cyclones.

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Over 9500 feet deep......They must have been at low altitude over the water, a catastrophic event occurred, and into the water. The CVR and FDR will hopefully tell the tale.

If it was just a problem followed by a ditching and sinking, one would think that more crew could have got out. Crews are even taught how to get out of a chopper even  if it is sinking inverted. 

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6 Canadian service members killed in helicopter crash to be honoured at CFB Trenton ceremony

DND says Canadian Armed Forces members on parade to wear masks, to distance physically

Wed May 06, 2020 - CBC News


Six Canadian military members killed in last week's helicopter crash off the coast of Greece will be honoured at a repatriation ceremony in Ontario on Wednesday.

The ceremony, at CFB Trenton, is set to begin at 2:30 p.m. ET.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to attend. Family and friends of the service members will have a chance at the ceremony to pay their respects.

The Department of National Defence said Canadian Armed Forces members, with the exception of pallbearers, will practise physical distancing at the ceremony to protect the health of those in attendance.

"Despite the challenges presented by the current COVID-19 environment and the need to maintain physical distancing, 8 Wing/CFB Trenton is committed to a dignified and respectful repatriation for our fallen aviators and sailors," the department said in an email Tuesday.

On Wednesday, April 29, the CH-148 Cyclone crashed in the Ionian Sea while taking part in NATO exercises. Defence officials have said it was returning to HMCS Fredericton at the end of a NATO training mission.

The remains of one naval officer, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, were subsequently recovered while the other five service members on board are missing and presumed dead. Cowbrough was a marine systems engineering officer on the HMCS Fredericton and had lived in Dartmouth, N.S., for much of her life.

The other five service members are: Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, a pilot originally from New Glasgow, N.S.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, a naval warfare officer originally from Truro, N.S.; Capt. Kevin Hagen, a pilot originally from Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, an air combat systems officer originally from Trois-Rivières, Que.; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, an airborne electronic sensor operator originally from Guelph, Ont.

The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified.

At the ceremony, members of the Canadian Armed Forces on parade will wear non-medical masks, the department said.

Pallbearers and those unable to distance physically will wear gloves. The department said it will provide family members of the six with masks and encourage them to distance physically during the ceremony.

As for Canadians who wish to pay their respects, the department is urging them to watch the ceremony on television or online instead of gathering at CFB Trenton.

The department said the five members who are missing and presumed dead will be represented by different military headgear, depending on whether they were members of the Royal Canadian Navy or Royal Canadian Air Force.

The headgear will be resting on pillows to be carried off the plane, a CC-177 Globemaster, by fellow military members.

According to the department, once the CC-177 Globemaster arrives at 8 Wing/CFB Trenton, pallbearers will enter the aircraft, the Quarter Guard will march into its position on the tarmac, families of the six will be escorted to locations on the tarmac and the ceremony will begin.

Pallbearers from 8 Wing Trenton will carry Cowbrough's casket first from the CC-177 to a waiting hearse. Her remains will be repatriated.

An escort party from HMCS Fredericton will then carry pillows with the headdress of the five other members from the CC-177 in the following order of rank, by seniority: Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald; Capt. Kevin Hagen; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke; and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins.

As the casket and each pillow is brought to each hearse, respective family members will be brought to the rear of the hearse to pay their respects.

The hearse doors will be closed, the Quarter Guard will march off and the ceremony will end.

Motorcade to Toronto to follow ceremony

Following the ceremony, a motorcade will travel along a section of Highway 401, known as the Highway of Heroes, to Toronto, for a coroner's examination.

A portion of Highway 401 is called the Highway of Heroes to mark the road that soldiers killed in action in Afghanistan travelled between CFB Trenton and Toronto in their final journey home.

When the bodies of soldiers who died in Afghanistan were repatriated, people would line the overpasses of Highway 401 to pay their respects.

"For those who may feel it necessary to have a physical presence at roadside or overpasses along the Highway of Heroes, we ask that you join us in respecting COVID-19 restrictions and practice physical distancing while paying respects," the department says.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said on Tuesday that he is urging people to watch the ceremony and motorcade on TV or online instead of from Highway 401 overpasses to adhere to physical distancing guidelines.

It's still not clear what caused the CH-148 Cyclone to crash, but the helicopter's flight data recorders were found in the debris and are to be analyzed at the National Research Council in Ottawa.

Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft was used to bring the families to and from CFB Trenton to reduce risk of travel through various airports across Canada, the department said.


Edited by Lakelad
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1 hour ago, Lakelad said:

The remains of one naval officer, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, were subsequently recovered while the other five service members on board are missing and presumed dead.


1 hour ago, Lakelad said:

The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified.

Kind of conflicting and puzzling  statements.... ???

Another very sad day at YTR and unfortunately the NOK won't see the full visual support of the CF and those along the hiway  because of COVID 19.

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As military probes deadly crash, clues could lie in the Cyclone's troubled procurement history

The one-of-a-kind military helicopter has had a cloud hanging over it for most of its history

As the tragic events in the Ionian Sea off Greece came into focus last week, a sense of dread rippled through a tight-knit community of former military and political staffers — people whose careers have intersected with the long, troubled effort to bring the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter into service.

Texts and emails were exchanged. One from a former defence official simply read: "Gutted."

It was more than an expression of remorse over the young lives shockingly cut short on a spring afternoon half a world away. It was an articulation of exasperation.

The bane of two governments before last week's crash claimed six lives, the Cyclone helicopter was the defence procurement program that came within a whisker of being cancelled — the subject of high corporate and backroom political drama and hand-wringing among engineers and safety experts.

'Worst procurement in the history of Canada'

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From the CBC story linked above:


Fly-by-wire technology has been the industry standard for both commercial and military aviation for a quarter century, but it's not without its problems. Its use (or perhaps misuse) was a major factor in the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447, which killed all 228 passengers and crew.

In terms of an objective, evidence-based investigation standard, I thought the question in this article was being kept open regarding this accident and the Cyclone design, until I read the above statement.

The statement invites any reader who is just trying to understand things and who likely will not know details of the AF447 accident, to draw a "conclusion of equivalence" between "FBW" technology and this tragic Cyclone accident, inappropriately using an accident, AF447, that had nothing to do with FBW technology.

The bracketed statement, " (or perhaps misuse) " more than suggests fault in advance of established facts.

This neither serves flight safety goals nor respects the loss of life, both of which demand the very highest of investigative standards to establish where corrections are to be applied.

The politicization of everything including science, the principles of evidence-gathering and the casting of darkness over earnest, experienced, expert efforts to find out things before pronouncing on them appears now to be a media standard.

Repetition of the same mistakes, same causes of accidents and same conditions for disasters is the inevitable and predictable outcome of declaring causes prior to understanding what happened.

Edited by Don Hudson
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That wasn't good journalism, was it? There have been several serious accidents and incidents involving this type of machine, including tail rotor driveshaft failures, main gearbox failures.. the point is that in this case, we just don't know. Throwing suspicions electronic flight control system does no good at all... we all need to let the investigative teams do their work.

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Flight control software glitch haunted Cyclone helicopter during trials

One defence expert suggests the crash probe will focus on what grounded the fleet three years ago

The CH-148 Cyclone helicopter has what the air force calls a "triple redundant" flight control system — and during a 2017 training mission off Nova Scotia, all three of those computers momentarily failed at once.

It was a major software glitch, alarming enough to ground the fleet for nine weeks.

At the time, the military described the incident publicly as a "severe bump" which reset the controls and caused the aircraft to briefly and suddenly lose altitude. The pilot managed to recover and land safely.

One defence expert now says that incident may prove to be vitally important as investigators probe the cause of last month's Cyclone crash in the Ionian Sea. The crash, which happened while the chopper was taking part in NATO operations, claimed the lives of six Canadian service members — four aircrew and two sailors.

Chopper 'flew into the ocean,' say sources

Multiple defence sources tell CBC News that at the time of the crash, the Cyclone was conducting a high-speed, low-level photo pass of HMCS Fredericton, a manoeuvre known in the air force as a "Brownie Run" after a NATO standard camera.

Without warning, the helicopter suddenly pitched forward and "flew into the ocean," said the sources, who were granted anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.

The March 9, 2017 incident involving a software glitch aboard a Cyclone is a matter of public record. What wasn't fully revealed at the time, the sources said, was the fact that all three interconnected computers inexplicably reset themselves  — something that could have led to a catastrophic crash.

When the grounding of the fleet ended three years ago, the Cyclones continued to operate for a period of time under a series of flight restrictions while their manufacturer, Sikorsky Aircraft, addressed the software issue through a pre-planned upgrade.

'No time to respond'

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45 minutes ago, Fido said:

Because politics got involved

More like cabin area and volume... especially for SAR/EVAC if you have to stack cord wood.

It needs to do ASW today, SSSC tomorrow, HDS the following and SAR the next. We don't have the luxury of specialist platforms in that environment.

For whatever it may be worth, I would also point out that HS operations are tough on helicopters. The salt environment requires extensive corrosion control protocols and even resting in the hanger the poor beasts are constantly in motion. The deck landings (DDLs) take their toll as well.... pretty is as pretty does in tough environments, and biggest bang for the buck is the very definition of functional and operational compromise. 

Edited by Wolfhunter
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Any procurement project in this country is riddled with BS politics.  The two parties are so diametrically opposed to one another that it's amazing anything happens at all.

Procurement of assets like aircraft should be carried out by  a selected group of Experts in the field (be it military or civilian or whatever) The political parties should remain clear of any decisions until a clear winner is declared. Then the procurement contracts and details cen go ahead.  Again the politicians should remain clear of the process.

look at the F-35 debacle or is it F-18, or Grippen, or  ......  Get the point.  Politicians cannot make decisions only debate possibilities.


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The primary pilot  trainer years ago was the versatile "Chipmunk" but was coming to the end of its life.

A replacement was required and we bought the " Musketeer". The cost included a two color choice.......White/blue trim... or Blue /white trim.

An BOD8D pilot who probably  had not flown since hey was awarded his wings was told to make a final  color decision. Since he went through pilot training during the time the earth was cooling, he had flown the YELLOW Chipmunk and the YELLOW Harvard, and thus he felt YELLOW should be the color of the new acquisition. One of his arguments was that if one crashed it would be easy to find due to its color  and a lengthy search and rescue mission could be avoided. No one mentioned that a training load of fuel would amount to about two hours of flying in MFA, (Restricted Military Flying Area ), and that if the plane went down in that area it would be very simple  to find it in a restricted and relatively small area. The cost of going for the two colors, at no cos,t to YELLOW was apparently close to $3000.00 per aircraft.....

The Tutor was another story.....If DND wanted the plumbing for extra fuel tanks, it would add $800.00 per aircraft. Someone who had done basic jet training insisted DND could save the cost because the Tudors would only be flying in the YMJ or YGM  MFA. The majority of the initial Tutors were purchased sans the plumbing....BUT....someone said, "how do we teach long range navigation " when we are supposed to do Transcon exercises but  will have to stop 3 or 4 times a day for fuel?   So the plumbing was retrofitted  during a major refit to many of the aircraft at a cost of over $8000.00 per aircraft.

The problem with DND is/was that the operators, those at the tip of the spear, normally have little to say about any replacement aircraft DND buys. Those that make the decisions are all from ":a way back then" and, as we all know, aviation is a fluid industry and the guys/gals that really know what is going on and know what would be desirable in the new birds have little, if any, input.

Then there was the bi-fold door I was personally responsible for ........but that story, I believe , has already been posted.?



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  • 2 weeks later...

Searchers find wreckage, human remains at scene of Canadian Forces chopper crash

Drone submersible found the crash site 3,143 metres beneath the surface of the Ionian Sea


The wreckage of a Canadian military helicopter and the remains of its crew have been located on the bottom of the Ionian Sea by a U.S. Navy drone submersible.

The Department of National Defence issued a statement today saying the recovery ship EDL Hercules arrived at the crash site and the remotely-operated REMORA III quickly located the sunken CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, about 220 nautical miles east of Catania, Italy.

The recovery and salvage drone located large pieces of the fuselage in 3,143 metres of water.

Remains of the four missing crew members were also found "in the vicinity," said the statement.

The search for more debris and remains will continue over the next few days.

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