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Op REASSURANCE ~ Canadian Helicopter Crew Loss

A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter aboard HMCS Fredericton during Operation REASSURANCE, January 22, 2020 [Canadian National Defence: Cpl Simon Arcand]
Six members of a Canadian helicopter crew deployed in the Mediterranean with HMCS Fredericton on Operation REASSURANCE were lost on Wednesday.


CAF News Release, Ottawa, 30 April 2020: One member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) was killed on Wednesday April 29, 2020 and five other members remain missing following an accident involving a Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter.

From top left: Sub~Lieutenant Cowbrough, Captain MacDonald, Captain Hagen, Captain Miron-Morin, Sub-Lieutenant Pyke and Master Corporal Cousins.

Killed was Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, a Maritime Systems Engineering Officer, originally from Toronto, Ontario.

Confirmed missing 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 Weapons Officer, originally from Truro, Nova Scotia
  • Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Airborne Electronic Sensor Operator, originally from Guelph, Ontario

The helicopter was deployed in the Mediterranean Sea with HMCS Fredericton 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.

The CAF are providing our members and their families with as much support as possible to include a wide range of resources to help them through this difficult time. A RCAF Flight Safety team will depart Canada shortly to investigate the circumstances of the accident and will begin their work immediately upon arrival.

“I was deeply saddened to learn yesterday of the tragic incident involving a Cyclone helicopter off the coast of Greece and the loss of our members of the Canadian Armed Forces. I wish to express my deepest condolences to their families, friends, and colleagues. Search and rescue efforts are ongoing with our NATO Allies for the five missing members and all available resources are being dedicated to this effort. This accident is a painful reminder of the dangers that members of Canada’s military face every day to ensure the safety and security of Canadians.” The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“This tragedy hits home especially hard, as I know it does for so many members of our wider Defence Team. 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.” Jody Thomas, Deputy Minister of National Defence

“To their families, friends, and shipmates, our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. 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.” General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff


A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter conducting in-flight refuelling from HMCS Halifax during Op REASSURANCE in the Mediterranean Sea, January 6, 2020 [Canadian National Defence: Cpl Braden Trudeau]

Joint Statement, 30 April 2020: Lieutenant-General Al Meinzinger, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, issued the following statement:

“Our hearts are heavy with the recent news from HMCS Fredericton. There are no words to describe a loss as tragic as this. On behalf of the entire Air Force and Navy family, we offer our deepest condolences, love and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this devastating loss.

“Our thanks go out to all those involved in search efforts and in particular our NATO partners operating in the area.

“This incident serves as a difficult reminder of the sacrifice that our brave men and women face daily while defending and representing our nation, both at home and abroad. It also serves to remind us all how dangerous even routine operations at-sea and in the air can be. In the face of these realities, the sailors and aviators aboard Navy frigates operate as one team – one family – a family that today mourns together.

“To the families and loved ones of Master Corporal Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough, Captain Kevin Hagen, Captain Brenden Ian MacDonald, Captain Maxime Miron-Morin, and Sub-Lieutenant Matthew Pyke – we extend our deepest sympathies. As we take the time to come to terms with this tragedy, our thoughts are with you and we stand ready to support you through these difficult times.”

“Yesterday was a tragic day for our military family. I am profoundly saddened by this accident and I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of our fallen member and the five who remain missing.” Lieutenant General Mike Rouleau, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

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