A Canadian NATO helicopter was involved in an incident off the coast of Greece and a search and rescue mission is currently underway.
In a pair of tweets, Canadian Armed Forces Operations reported losing contact with Cyclone CH-148, which was deployed aboard the Halifax-class frigate HMCS Fredericton, and “was participating in Allied exercises off coasts of Greece ”as part of Operation Rassurance.
Search and rescue operations are currently underway.
The military said it could not provide further information at this time because the situation was changing.
In a tweet, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said that the helicopter had “disappeared” and that Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan was spoken to about the situation.
“Updates will be provided as soon as possible,” he added.
Conservative leader Andrew Scheer called the news of the helicopter’s disappearance “very disturbing.”
“While we await more details from representatives of the Department of National Defense and the Canadian Armed Forces, our thoughts and prayers are with the crew and the members on board,” he wrote in a tweet.
In a statement, Colonel Juanita Chang, chief of public affairs for Allied Powers Europe Supreme Headquarters, also confirmed the incident, but provided some additional details.
“I confirm that there was an incident involving a helicopter from a NATO-led ship,” said Chang in the statement. “There is currently a search and rescue operation in progress and national notifications are in progress. “
In January, HMCS Fredericton left Halifax for a six-month deployment to Europe for Operation Reassurance, which aims to “strengthen the collective defense of NATO” and to show solidarity with the allied countries of Central Europe and eastern, according to the Canadian Armed Forces website.
Several Canadian warships involved in the mission had been recalled due to COVID-19, but HMCS Fredericton remained.
The ship traveled to Italy in March and was scheduled to sail to Greece and the Black Sea as one of eight warships in NATO’s Standing Maritime Group 2, which maintains a military presence in the Mediterranean Sea.
The Canadian military began using the Cyclone helicopters for training in 2015, after more than a decade of costly delays with the manufacturer Sikorsky. It was not until 2018 that the military began using them on real missions.
The military was supposed to have received 28 cyclones from Sikorsky in November 2008, but to date it has received only 18.
With files from The Canadian Press