HMCS Fredericton returns after six-month mission marked by tragic helicopter crash

HALIFAX — HMCS Fredericton has returned home today, nearly three months after a deadly helicopter crash that claimed the lives of six crew members.

The crew was welcomed home to the sound of a navy band and by several dignitaries, including Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who sailed into port with the crew.

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The Canadian Armed Forces members lost their lives when a Cyclone helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece on April 29 while returning from a NATO training mission.

The Royal Canadian Navy ship was docked in Italy for two weeks, but resumed its mission in mid-May, completing a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Halifax-class frigate arrived amid COVID-19 measures that drastically changed usual return protocols.

The crash of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, known as Stalker 22, caused the worst loss of life in one day for the Canadian Armed Forces since six Canadian soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan on Easter Sunday 2007.

A Royal Canadian Air Force flight safety investigation into the circumstances of the accident is ongoing. The investigation is focused on aircraft systems and human factors as possible causes of the crash.

Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins were killed in the crash.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 28, 2020.

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