The search for two missing Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) members ended in tragedy Tuesday evening.
Sadly, both missing members did not survive the CH-147F Chinook crash that took place in the early hours of Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in the Ottawa River.
“I join all Canadians in mourning the loss of two Royal Canadian Air Force members from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. These brave Canadian Armed Forces members served Canada with honour, dedication, and immeasurable courage. I extend my deepest condolences to their loved ones. I also send my prayers to the two members injured in the crash, who are now recovering. We are with you,” said Anita Anand, minister of national defence.
Names of the deceased have not been released at the request of the grieving families.
Hours of Searches Concluded
The search for the missing members began shortly after the helicopter crashed into the Ottawa River at 12:10 a.m. The missing members were two of a crew of four from the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron on the aircraft. The other two members were found by emergency crews earlier and taken to a hospital. They were treated for minor injuries and have since been released, says the Department of National Defence.
The search was supported by 110 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members and various local emergency departments.
As the search continued through the day Tuesday, it moved to a search and recovery mission. The two missing members’ bodies were recovered Tuesday evening.
“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of these two members. They served with honour, proudly devoting their lives to Canada with tremendous professionalism and selfless service. Their loss is devastating, and we stand in grief with their families, friends, and teammates during this time of great sorrow. Our thoughts and prayers are also with our members who were injured in this tragic accident, and we wish them a quick recovery. On behalf of all members of the armed forces, the Canadian Armed Forces Chief Warrant Officer and I offer our deepest condolences to the loved ones of our fallen,” said Gen. Wayne Eyre, chief of the defence staff.
The CAF says it is providing a “full range” of support to the families of the fallen soldiers and the surviving members of the crash and their families.
Investigation now ongoing
The RCAF says its Directorate of Flight Safety will now conduct an investigation into the accident to determine the cause. The RCAF says further information will now not be released to safeguard the integrity of the investigation.
“The hearts of Royal Canadian Air Force members are heavy with the news from Garrison Petawawa about the loss of two members from 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron. There are no words to describe a loss as tragic as this. On behalf of the entire Air Force family, Chief Warrant Officer Hall and I offer our deepest condolences and support to the families, friends and loved ones of all those affected by this accident,” said LGen. Eric Kenny, commander, Royal Canadian Air Force.
Boaters and the public are still being requested to stay off the Ottawa River and the shores near Garrison Petawawa to allow for cleanups and the preservation of the scene for the Flight Safety Investigation.
CH-147F Chinook Helicopter Aircraft
The Government of Canada acquired a total of 15 CH-147F Chinook helicopter aircraft.
The total estimated cost in 2009 for the project was $5 billion, with $2.3 billion for project acquisition costs and $2.7 billion for the 20-year in-service support program.
“The primary mission of the CH-147F Chinook is the tactical transport of equipment and personnel during domestic or deployed operations. The new Chinooks have been modified to operate with maximum effectiveness in Canada and on Canadian operations, including an increased internal fuel capacity that allows it to fly twice as far as previous models. With this new fleet, the Canadian Armed Forces increase their ability to deploy rapidly, and to perform complex operations both at home and abroad,” according to the Media Liaison Office.
The Government announced a contract amendment for Boeing Company in June 2013 to provide 20 years of in-service support for the helicopters.