Military ends mission to recover Cyclone helicopter crash wreckage, remains

Military ends mission to recover Cyclone helicopter crash wreckage, remains
Andrew Vaughan / The Canadian Press
A memorial pays respect to the victims of a military helicopter crash, at 12 Wing Shearwater in Dartmouth, N.S., home of 423 Maritime Helicopter Squadron, on Friday, May 1, 2020. A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter flying from the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton crashed off the coast of Greece while taking part in a NATO exercise as in the Mediterranean.

The Canadian Armed Forces has ended its mission to recover the wreckage of the Cyclone helicopter that crashed off the coast of Greece in April.

The recovery plan was led by a combined Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and United States Navy (USN) team, with Maritime Component commander Rear-Admiral Craig Baines suggesting on Wednesday that their goal had been reached.

“After eight days over the crash site we achieved what we set out to accomplish – we located the helicopter, we have recovered some remains of our fallen and we have retrieved multiple pieces of the aircraft that will assist in the ongoing flight safety investigation,” said Rear-Admiral Baines in a statement.

They will be returned to Canada this weekend for identification.

There were six people on board when the Cyclone helicopter went down: Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, and Master Corporal Matthew Cousins.

Capt. Hagen had roots here on Vancouver Island, attending high school at Lambrick Park Secondary in Saanich.

Previous recovery efforts were able to locate the body of Sub-Lieutenant Cowbrough and the remains of Captain MacDonald.

Baines added the wreckage from the helicopter was also recovered during their latest efforts, with the focus on debris that flight-safety investigators believed could help determine the cause of the crash.

According to Baines,  “no portion of the main cabin was left intact,” and the crash debris was spread over an area of about 260 metres by 230 metres.

He also said the military decided not to raise some larger parts of the Cyclone because they were not considered important to the investigation and could damage the U.S. Navy drone involved in the recovery effort.

The helicopter went down on April 29 within sight of the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton at the end of a NATO training mission.

With files from the Canadian Press.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

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