Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut September 19, 2013 - 8:33 am

Coast Guard icebreakers to recover chopper lost in Arctic waters: DFO

"We will make every reasonable effort to recover the helicopter as soon as possible"

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
The CCGS Henry Larsen and the CCGS Amundsen will work together to recover this helicopter, shown taking off the research icebreaker in 2010, which crashed Sept. 9 near Banks Island, killing three people on board. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)
The CCGS Henry Larsen and the CCGS Amundsen will work together to recover this helicopter, shown taking off the research icebreaker in 2010, which crashed Sept. 9 near Banks Island, killing three people on board. (PHOTO BY JANE GEORGE)

Two Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers, the Henry Larsen and the Amundsen, will work to recover its Messerschmitt-Bolkow-Blohm Bo-105 helicopter, which crashed Sept. 9 in the Arctic Ocean near Banks Island, Fisheries and Oceans Canada said Sept. 18.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigation into the crash, which killed the three people on board the helicopter — Marc Thibault, commanding officer of the CCGS Amundsen, Daniel Dubé, the helicopter pilot, both of Quebec City, and Klaus Hochheim, a scientist affiliated with the University of Manitoba — is ongoing, the DFO said.

The Henry Larsen is “immediately tasked” with locating the helicopter, which sank in 420 metres of water, and will provide icebreaking and technical assistance, the DFO said.

The Amundsen will provide search and recovery assistance, and will transport the technical equipment and personnel required to locate and recover the helicopter, which left the Amundsen Sept. 9 on a routine trip to observe ice conditions.

“While there are logistical challenges in planning a recovery mission in the harsh Arctic at this time of year, we will make every reasonable effort to recover the helicopter as soon as possible, while ensuring the safety of all personnel involved in this mission,” said Marc Grégoire, CCG commissioner,

The TSB investigation team was to arrive in Resolute Bay Sept. 18 where they planned to meet with Coast Guard staff and personnel from ArcticNet, the research network which oversees the Amundsen’s activities, on beginning the search and recovery efforts.

“We know we are facing a difficult environment with weather and ice conditions — and there are no guarantees,” said Wendy Tadros, the TSB chairperson “But the TSB is committed to furthering its investigation to determine what happened in this tragic accident.”

“Everyone associated with ArcticNet and the Amundsen program are cooperating fully with the CCG and TSB, and we are allocating our best technical and material resources towards the success of this operation,” said Martin Fortier, ArcticNet’s executive director.

Earlier this week, autopsies of the three men who died in the helicopter crash revealed “cold water immersion” led to their deaths.

The men suffered no fatal injuries, suggesting they survived the crash of their helicopter, only to die from the effects of the frigid water — this would have led to hypothermia, a lethal lowering of their body temperature, likely within about one hour.

Their funerals take place this week, with details on the ArcticNet website.

A message on the site with information about pilot Dubé‘s funeral says “Je vous ai quittés au froid, mais mon cœur est rempli de chaleur et d’amour pour vous tous [I left you in the cold, but my heart was filled with warmth and love for all of you].”

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