Search ends for missing sailor as HMCS Winnipeg returns home

The active search for Master Sailor Duane Earle, deployed in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg, concluded at 5:37 p.m. PST (8:37 p.m. EST) on December 15th. He was not found.

Rear-Admiral Brian Santarpia, Maritime Component Commander expressed, “It is with a heavy heart that we announce that we have concluded our active search for Master Sailor Earle. This decision was not taken lightly, however after extensive coverage of the search area we have not been able to locate him.” He continued to thank everyone involved in the search, saying “They have been steadfast in their support to HMCS Winnipeg. Right now our focus remains on supporting his family, his friends and shipmates as they work through this very challenging time and I offer my deepest sympathies.”

Master Sailor Earle’s next of kin have been notified, and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) are providing his family with the support needed to help them through this difficult time. His family is currently in their grieving process as a result of this tragic loss. They are asking the media to respect their privacy during this very difficult time.

Unimaginably Difficult Time

Commodore Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, explained that this is an unimaginably difficult time for the family and the crew. With the conclusion of the active search, they are focused on supporting Master Sailor Earle’s family and friends while also working to bring HMCS Winnipeg the rest of the way home after a long and very demanding deployment.

“The entire Pacific Fleet, the whole of the Royal Canadian Navy and the CAF, stand beside them and will continue to support them in the coming days,” Topshee says.

Commander Mike Stefanson, Commanding Officer HMCS Winnipeg, offered his sympathies to the family and friends of Master Sailor Earle. “We have completed a challenging deployment, in very uncertain times both at home and overseas, and we will continue to stand together through this incredibly sad time.”

Now that the search has concluded, HMCS Winnipeg will continue their transit home to Esquimalt, B.C. Details of their arrival will be communicated in the near future.

Investigation into the Circumstances

As mentioned previously, the CAF will conduct an investigation into the circumstances of how MS Earle went missing. More details on the investigation will be made available in the coming weeks.

On December 14, 2020, Master Sailor Earle, a 47-year old Boatswain originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was reported missing while the ship was approximately 500 nautical miles west of San Francisco, California. The HMCS Winnipeg was en route back to Esquimalt after being deployed to the Asia-Pacific region on Operations PROJECTION and NEON.

An extensive search of an area of approximately 2,000 nautical miles took place over the past 30 hours from both the air and sea. The search effort was coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Alameda County, California, and included the ship’s embarked Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) CH-148 Cyclone helicopter; an RCAF CP-140 Aurora from 19 Wing, Comox, B.C.; a US Coast Guard C-27J search and rescue aircraft; a California Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft; and HMCS Winnipeg.

HMCS Winnipeg was deployed to Asia-Pacific region

From September to December 2020, HMCS Winnipeg was deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on Operation PROJECTION Asia-Pacific and Operation NEON to further strengthen Canada’s relations with partners in the area.

During these operations, the CAF conducts training, exercises, and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners.

HMCS Winnipeg has approximately 230 highly trained officers and sailors who were well-prepared to meet the challenges of their deployment on Operations PROJECTION and NEON. HMCS Winnipeg delivered robust capabilities working with our partner navies to strengthen international partnerships and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

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Julia Lennips

Julia is a journalist who is an avid reader and an artist. She is living in North Bay, ON pursing her passion for reporting.

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