U.S. Navy salvage drone to search for missing Canadian helicopter

A remotely-operated U.S. Navy submersible will search the ocean floor off Greece for the wreckage of a Canadian air force maritime helicopter and its missing crew members.

The CH-148 Cyclone went down as it was approaching HMCS Fredericton in the Ionian Sea following a surveillance training mission on April 29.

The salvage operation will get underway closer to the end of the month, said Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau, who is in charge of overseas and domestic Canadian Forces operations.

“Speed in this search and recovery is very important for a number of reasons,” Rouleau said Monday. “The first is for the families. The second relates to our [Canadian Armed Forces] ethos — we do not leave our fallen behind. And the third is, the environment will degrade [crash] evidence over time.”

Location of wreckage is known

A mixed team of Canadian and American naval specialists will be aboard the recovery vessel to oversee the operation. 

Rear-Admiral Craig Baines, the commander of Canada’s East Coast fleet, said the military has a clear idea of the crash location and the Cyclone is equipped with an underwater emergency beacon that continues to transmit for up to 30 days.

He said the signal can only be picked up by a nearby ship; once the salvage vessel arrives, he said, it should be able to zero in on the location.

Watch | Rear-Admiral Baines describes the challenges facing the salvage team

Rear-Admiral Craig Baines is the commander of Canada’s east coast fleet. He spoke with the CBC’s Sarah Sears on Parliament hill on Tuesday. 2:09

The wreckage may have been moved around by underwater currents.

Both Baines and Rouleau said the recovery operation will continue for as long as it takes to retrieve the remains of the aircrew and one sailor still missing in as much as 3,000 metres of water.

“We will remain at the site until we are satisfied that we have recovered all that we can,” said Rouleau, who would not put a timeline on the length of the recovery operation.

Clockwise from top left: Capt. Kevin Hagen, Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin. (Department of National Defence)

The remains of Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough of Nova Scotia were retrieved on the day of the accident, along with the partial remains of Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald.

Those still missing are Capt. Kevin Hagen from Nanaimo, B.C.; Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin from Trois-Rivieres, Que.; Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke from Truro, N.S.; and Master Corp. Matthew Cousins from Guelph, Ont.

The Cyclone was within minutes of landing on the frigate when it inexplicably crashed in full view of crew members on the warship, Baines said.

It had passed the ship after taking photos and was repositioning to conduct what’s known as a “deck hoist” operation — the lifting and lowering of personnel and equipment by the aircraft — when the crash occurred, he added.

Modules from the flight data recorders were found almost immediately after the accident, but they are designed to break away from the aircraft and float to the surface.

Maj.-Gen. Alain Pelletier, who oversees joint air operations, would not say what information may have been gleaned from the recorders, but did indicate that the Cyclone fleet remains under an “operational pause.”

He refused to speculate on a possible cause. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan suggested recently the investigation could take a year or more.

Board of inquiry underway

Rouleau said that, in addition to the flight safety investigation, two other administrative probes are underway or are about to be launched. One of them is a summary investigation to establish the status of the missing crew, which will aid families in the estate planning process.

The other is detailed military technical investigation, known as a board of inquiry, which looks at whether military procedures or equipment were to blame. 

Watch | Lt.-Gen. Rouleau: ‘We do not leave our fallen behind’

Lt.-Gen. Mike Rouleau says a remotely operated US Navy submersible system will be used to recover the wreckage of a Canadian air force Cyclone helicopter and the remains of its missing crewmembers. 2:37

Given the depth at which the wreckage can be found, defence expert Michael Byers said the Canadian military was left with few options.

“There are only a few manned submersibles that can go that deep,” he said.

“I’m not sure a manned vehicle would prove much of an advantage in this situation. And technology has advanced with regards to remotely operated, deep sea submersibles.”

Experts have been wondering whether a salvage operation is possible in the Ionian Sea, known for its depth and underwater canyons. A few hundred kilometres due south of the crash site is a region known as the Calypso Deep, the deepest point in the Mediterranean at 5,267 metres (17,280 feet).

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Wartime photos rescued from rubbish tip chronicle life of WWII Navy servicewoman


April 25, 2020 08:14:38

A collection of photo albums once destined for landfill illustrates the life and times of a naval servicewoman during World War II.

Key points:

  • Joan Stevenson rescued a collection of historic photo albums from her local rubbish tip
  • The albums once belonged to former Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service telegraphist Barbara Williams
  • Ms Stevenson has since discovered Ms Williams died in 2019

When Joan Stevenson received a call from her local rubbish tip operator about several discarded albums, she knew they were worth salvaging.

“He said an elderly lady who dropped them there said that maybe if you take the photos out, people might be interested in using the photo albums,” Ms Stevenson said.

As president of the Amusu Theatre and movie museum at Manildra in central-western New South Wales, Ms Stevenson possessed a fascination for unravelling tales.

“After bringing [the albums] back and having a look and reading all the stories that were in it, I decided to keep them for the museum,” she said.

What she rescued were the visual memories of a woman who served on the home front during World War II.

“Obviously she must have lived around here for a while, but no-one seems to know who she is.”

Mystery behind the woman

From inscriptions and captions written throughout the albums, Ms Stevenson discovered they once belonged to a Barbara Williams.

Many of the photographs depicted her early career with the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service (WRANS) at HMAS Harman in Canberra.

“It looks like from some of the photographs that she was a telegraphist,” Ms Stevenson said.

During the war the base provided communications for Allied ships in the Pacific.

The album’s photos included a mix of candid shots, probably taken by Ms Williams or fellow servicewomen, and others issued by the former department of information.

“They didn’t go to war, but they did their part in the war as well,” Ms Stevenson said.

“It must have been frightening.”

Other images from Ms Williams’s time teaching in Armidale, along with holiday snaps from around Australia and New Zealand, are placed throughout the albums.

Ms Stevenson also came across portraits of an outgoing young woman who grew up in Sydney’s eastern suburbs and attended a boarding school in Moss Vale.

“She went to private schools; obviously she came from a very well-off family because the address at the front says Vaucluse.”

Custodian of history

Ms Stevenson displayed the albums for museum visitors and said they showed the importance of retaining personal, tangible mementos.

“Especially these days when you don’t have [printed] photographs, you only have them on your phone,” she said.

“But this tells a wonderful life and it should be left for those people who are left behind or to come and see what these people did for our country.”

Ms Stevenson said while she would have liked to have met the woman in the photos, she found newspaper tributes and notices for a Barbara Frances Williams who died in March 2019.

“She had a marvellous life by the looks of this.”















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Second Navy Warship Reports COVID-19 Outbreak While at Sea

(WASHINGTON) — Another Navy ship at sea has reported a coronavirus outbreak and is returning to port, the Navy said Friday.

Navy officials said at least 18 members of the crew of a destroyer, the USS Kidd, have tested positive and it expects the number to grow. It said it is evaluating the extent of the outbreak aboard the ship.

The Kidd is off the Pacific coast of Central America, where it has been operating as part of a U.S. counter-drug mission. The Navy said it has a crew of about 350. It is only the second Navy ship, among about 90 deployed around the world, to report a coronavirus outbreak at sea. The other is the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Read more: Coronavirus Has Hit the U.S. Military, and America’s Adversaries Are Seeking Advantage

One sailor who displayed symptoms was flown off the Kidd on Thursday to a medical facility at San Antonio, where he tested positive for the virus.

After the positive case was confirmed at San Antonio, the Navy deployed a specialized medical team to the ship to conduct contact tracing and additional onsite testing.

“The first patient transported is already improving and will self-isolate. We are taking every precaution to ensure we identify, isolate, and prevent any further spread onboard the ship,” said Rear Admiral Don Gabrielson, commander U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. “Our medical team continues coordinating with the ship and our focus is the safety and well-being of every Sailor.”

The Navy said the ship will return to port, where the crew will continue to clean and disinfect the ship, observing protocols in accordance with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Navy-specific guidelines.

The Navy continues to struggle with a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier that is docked in Guam and has more than 800 confirmed virus cases.

Asked whether the Pentagon fears that the Kidd may become another Roosevelt crisis, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said the Navy acted quickly once learning of the first symptomatic sailor aboard the Kidd.

“The Navy has lessons learned from prior experience with a COVID crisis, and they have been quickly applying those to this case,” Hoffman said. “Fingers crossed, the Navy is doing everything they can right now, and we’re going to hope for the best outcome, but they are going to take all of the prudent steps that they possibly can.”

Contact us at editors@time.com.

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Trump tweets he’s ordered Navy to destroy Iranian gunboats

WASHINGTON (AP) — Amid tensions with Iran, President Donald Trump said Wednesday on Twitter he has given orders for the Navy to “shoot down and destroy” any Iranian gunboats found to be harassing U.S. ships.

A U.S. Navy video last week showed small Iranian fast boats coming close to American warships as they operated in the northern Persian Gulf near Kuwait, with U.S. Army Apache helicopters.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump tweeted.

Trump did not cite a specific event in his tweet, or provide details. The White House had no immediate comment.

The U.S. Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet referred questions about the tweet to the Pentagon, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump’s tweet came after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it had put the Islamic Republic’s first military satellite into orbit, dramatically unveiling what experts described as a secret space program with a surprise launch Wednesday that came amid wider tensions with the United States.

The launched immediately raised concerns among experts on whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

On Sunday, the Revolutionary Guard acknowledged it had a tense encounter last week with U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, but alleged without offering evidence that American forces sparked the incident.

The Guard and the Navy routinely have tense encounters in the Persian Gulf and its narrow mouth, the Strait of Hormuz, through which 20% of all oil passes.


Jon Gambrell reported from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

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Trump instructs U.S. Navy to destroy Iranian gunboats ‘if they harass our ships at sea’

FILE PHOTO: Four Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels, some of several to maneuver in what the U.S. Navy says are “unsafe and unprofessional actions against U.S. Military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range” is seen next to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton in the Gulf April 15, 2020. U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS

April 22, 2020

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, a week after 11 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to U.S. ships in the Gulf.

“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump wrote in a tweet, hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit.

(Reporting by Lisa Lambert and Susan Heavey; Editing by Toby Chopra)

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