Following a tragic accident on Wednesday off the coast of Greece involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, the search and rescue mission has now transitioned into a search and recovery mode.

Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Maritime Systems Engineering Officer from Toronto, Ontario was killed, and five other Canadian Armed Forces members are missing following the accident. The five members who were aboard the helicopter are now presumed deceased.

  • Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Pilot from New Glasgow, Nova Scotia
  • Captain Kevin Hagen, Pilot from Nanaimo, British Columbia
  • Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, Air Combat Systems Officer from Trois-Rivières, Québec
  • Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke, Naval Warfare Officer from Truro, Nova Scotia
  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator from Guelph, Ontario 

“This tragedy hits home especially hard, as I know it does for so many members of our wider Defence Team,” said Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence. “We join all Canadians to extend our deepest sympathies to the entire crew of the HMCS Fredericton, who served shoulder to shoulder with their lost teammate and we support those impacted during this truly difficult time.”

Crewmembers onboard HMCS HALIFAX conduct inflight refueling with the embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, call sign Kingfisher, during Operation REASSURANCE, in the Mediterranean Sea on January 6, 2020. Photo: Corporal Braden Trudeau, Trinity – Formation Imaging Services RP24-2020-0093-004

The Cyclone was conducting concurrent flight operations in the Mediterranean Sea with HMCS Fredericton as part of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 under Operation REASSURANCE. At the time of the accident, HMCS Fredericton was conducting collaborative training with Italian and Turkish ships.

“To their families, friends, and shipmates, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time,” said General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff. “There are no words to describe the pain that you feel right now, nor are there any words that can ease it. Please know that the entire Canadian Armed Forces is with you.”

An RCAF Flight Safety team will leave Canada today to investigate the circumstances of the accident. The findings from the investigation will help CAF personnel to continue to have confidence in the Cyclone and operational procedures and pinpoint any preventive measures that will either prevent or reduce the risk of similar occurrences in the future.