A U.S. Navy drone submersible launched in the the Ionian sea has located the wreckage and human remains of the Canadian military helicopter that crashed on April 29.
The Department of National Defence issued a statement yesterday 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.
Human remains were also found “in the vicinity,” said the statement, but DND was unable to say whether they’re the missing crew.
Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, commander of Canadian military operations, said, “This is encouraging news,” with the military confirming that it will stay on the scene as long as possible to collect as much as it can.
“We do not leave our fallen behind, and recovering Stalker 22’s crew is of the utmost importance to all of us in the Canadian Armed Forces and the Department of National Defence.”
Retrieving the helicopter wreckage itself will also go a long way toward helping crash investigators find out what happened, he added.
The relatively new Cyclone helicopter inexplicably went down on April 29 as it was approaching HMCS Fredericton, the Canadian patrol frigate it was attached to during NATO operations in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Greek Prime Minister expressed his grief over the crash to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“I express my grief over the crash of the Canadian helicopter in the Ionian Sea last night,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in parliament.
The accident killed six members of the military — four aircrew and two sailors.
The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough was recovered almost immediately after the crash, with a GoFundMe page established to support her family. The partial remains of one of the Cyclone’s pilots, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, also was retrieved from the crash scene.
The remaining members on board the flight — Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins — are missing and presumed dead.
“While early search efforts have been met with a degree of success, the operation is complex and may continue for some time before we are able to determine that all critical requirements have been met to cease recovery efforts,” he said in the statement.