Prime Minister Justin Trudeau deflected questions today about why it took more than 12 hours for the Canadian Armed Forces to confirm a military helicopter had crashed and when he found out that horrified crew members on board a Halifax-class frigate had watched it go down.
Mr. Trudeau says the military has important protocols in place in cases like these around informing the next of kin, talking to the families as quickly as possible before sharing information with the general public.
He says all of those protocols were followed.
The Cyclone helicopter was carrying six Armed Forces members when it crashed into the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece on April 29.
Defence officials have said it was returning to HMCS Fredericton at the end of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization training mission.
The remains of Sub-Lieutenant Abbigail Cowbrough were subsequently recovered while the other five service members on board are missing presumed dead.
The remains of one other person have been recovered but not yet identified.
The military initially reported that the helicopter was missing after HMCS Fredericton lost contact with it.
It did not confirm a crash until the next day, after the NATO military alliance had already reported the same thing.
A flight-investigation team that includes a representative from Sikorsky Aircraft, which builds the Cyclone, is currently investigating the circumstances around the crash.
That includes interviewing those aboard Fredericton who saw the crash.
The military is preparing to hold a special ramp ceremony Wednesday at Canadian Forces Base Trenton to repatriate Sub.-Lt. Cowbrough’s remains and honour all six who died in the crash.
The family and friends of the service members are expected to be in attendance.
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