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Canadian Navy Helicopter Goes Missing Off Greece

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HMCS Fredricton in a Royal Canadian Navy image released April 28 (RCN)

By The Maritime Executive 04-29-2020 08:58:32

A helicopter from the Canadian frigate HMCS Fredericton went missing off the coast of Greece on Wednesday, the Canadian Armed Forces has confirmed. Search and rescue efforts are currently under way. 

The aircraft is a recently-acquired Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, which the Royal Canadian Navy first deployed in 2018 to replace the aging Sea King.

“I confirm there has been an incident involving a helicopter from a ship under NATO command. There is currently a search-and-rescue operation being conducted and national notifications taking place,” said NATO headquarters spokesperson Col. Juanita Chang in a statement. 

The Cyclone is a heavily-modified derivative of the Sikorsky S-92, a civilian helicopter design that is in common use in the offshore oil and gas industry. The S-92 has received previous scrutiny in connection with a small number of mechanical casualties; a 2018 incident involving a hard landing on an oil platform prompted a fleet-wide recall for tail rotor inspections. The military-grade variant adopted by the Canadian Navy differs from the S-92 base model. 

The Cyclone's development was plagued with technical delays and cost overruns, and the first unit was delivered seven years late. In 2012, then-defense minister Peter Mackay described it as "the worst procurement in the history of Canada" due to development program challenges. 

HMCS Fredericton deployed to the Mediterranean in January to join Operation Reassurance, a series of NATO maneuvers and exercises intended to demonstrate deterrence measures and strengthen collective defense.