CAF, US Navy team finds wreckage, human remains of crashed Canadian military helicopter

In the early morning of May 27, 2020, a combined Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and United States Navy (USN) search and recovery team operating from EDT Hercules arrived at the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter crash site, which is approximately 220 nautical miles east of Catania, Sicily.

The Remora III remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) then dove to a depth of 3,143 meters and quickly located a large piece of the fuselage.

Remains of the fallen CAF personnel were also found in the vicinity of the wreckage.

The six members of the CAF were killed a month ago when the helicopter crashed while conducting maritime surveillance operations. The helicopter was deployed with HMCS Fredericton under Operation REASSURANCE as part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2). 

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Over the next hours and days, the recovery team will continue their search for both the fallen personnel and additional pieces of the wreckage.

“This is encouraging news. 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 itself will also go a long way in helping us to understand what occurred on April 29,” Lieutenant-General Mike Rouleau, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command, said.

“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. In cooperation with the RCAF, we will continue to keep the families and Canadians informed of the search results as it progresses in the days ahead,” Rear-Admiral Craig Baines, Commander Maritime Forces Atlantic, commented.

On May 25, 2020, EDT Hercules departed Souda Bay, Greece with a CAF-USN team to commence the at-sea search and recovery operation. The CAF remain in overall control of the search and recovery effort, while working collaboratively with the USN.