HMCS Fredericton returns after six-month mission marked by helicopter crash

HMCS Fredericton is returning home today, nearly three months after a deadly helicopter crash claimed the lives of six crew members.

The members of the Canadian Armed Forces lost their lives when a Cyclone helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece on April 29 while returning from a NATO training mission.

The Royal Canadian Navy ship was docked in Italy for two weeks but resumed its mission in mid-May, completing a six-month deployment in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Halifax-class frigate is expected to arrive today amid COVID-19 measures that will drastically change usual return protocols.

The crash of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, known as Stalker 22, caused the worst loss of life in one day for the Canadian Armed Forces since six soldiers were killed in a roadside bombing in Afghanistan on Easter Sunday in 2007.

A CH-148 Cyclone helicopter is seen aboard HMCS Fredericton during Operation Reassurance on Jan. 22, 2020. (Cpl. Simon Arcand/Canadian Armed Forces/Combat Camera)

A Royal Canadian Air Force flight safety investigation into the circumstances of the accident is ongoing.

The investigation is focused on aircraft systems and human factors as possible causes of the crash.

Sub-Lt. Abbigail Cowbrough, Capt. Brenden Ian MacDonald, Capt. Kevin Hagen, Capt. Maxime Miron-Morin, Sub-Lt. Matthew Pyke and Master Cpl. Matthew Cousins were killed in the crash.