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Recovery ship on its way to Cyclone helicopter crash scene in Ionian Sea


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A specialized salvage ship carrying a combined Canadian and American military recovery team has departed Soudas Bay, Greece on a mission to retrieve the wreckage of a downed CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

In a statement issued Monday, the Department of National Defence said the EDT Hercules vessel is expected to take two days to arrive at the crash site, which is about 22 nautical miles east of Catania, Italy in the Ionian Sea.

The helicopter — call sign Stalker-22 — was returning from a routine surveillance training mission on April 29 when it crashed into the ocean within sight of HMCS Fredericton, the patrol frigate from which it was operating.

Six military members — four flight crew and two sailors — died in the accident.

The body of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough was recovered almost immediately after the crash. 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.

A difficult retrieval

Retrieving the wreckage from about 3,000 metres of water is going to be a difficult and complicated task.

Aboard the Hercules is a American remotely-operated submersible which is capable of diving in deep waters.

Defence officials were reluctant last week to offer a timeline for the recovery operation because much will depend on weather and sea conditions in the area.

The crew of the Fredericton was able to plot the location where the aircraft went down, but defence officials cautioned during the technical briefing that the seabed and underwater currents may have shifted it since the accident. 

The Cyclone carries with it an underwater crash beacon that continues to operate for 30 days after being activated. It can only be picked up, however, by a search vessel operating in the vicinity of the wreckage.

A U.S. Navy submersible, the Remora. This remotely operated vehicle will search the depths of the Ionian Sea for the missing Canadian Cyclone helicopter this week. (Canadian Department of National Defence/contributed)

www.cbc.ca 2020-05-25 19:30:13

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