Search efforts transition to recovery mission following helicopter accident

(R to L beginning at top right) Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Captain Kevin Hagen, and Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald were all aboard the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH0148 Cyclone helicopter tragically crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Wednesday, Apr. 29, 2020. Photos courtesy of the Canadian Armed Forces.

The Ministry of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) have announced that the search and rescue efforts following the helicopter accident off the coast of Greece have now transitioned into search and recovery efforts.

The announcement was made just after 1 p.m. on Friday, May 1, 2020, two days after the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH0148 Cyclone helicopter tragically crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. The Cyclone was deployed on board the HMCS Fredericton and was participating in a NATO exercise off the coast of Greece when the accident took place, according to the CAF.

 At the time of the announcement, one of the six members on board the helicopter, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigal Cowbrough, has been confirmed deceased. Cowbrough was a Maritime Systems Engineering Officer originally from Toronto, who recently graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) here in Kingston.

The five remaining members who were aboard the aircraft are now officially missing and presumed dead. They are:

  • 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

MacDonald, Hagen, and Miron-Morin all also graduated from RMC in Kingston.

According to the Ministry of National Defence, additional remains have been located during the search efforts, but cannot be identified at this time.

“The Canadian Armed Forces will be doing everything possible over the next several days to confirm known details with the families,” the CAF said in a press release on Friday, May 1, 2020.

NATO Allies will continue recovery efforts at the scene as HMCS Fredericton departs for port in Italy. A RCAF Flight Safety team is departing Canada today to investigate the cause of the accident, and will begin their work immediately upon arrival.

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

The Cyclone 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.

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