Military aircraft and vessels from two countries scour the seas after a sailor is believed to have gone overboard from a navy ship returning to CFB Esquimalt. Master Sailor Duane Earle, from Winnipeg, Man. went missing Monday while onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Winnipeg.
Earle is a boatswain on HMCS Winnipeg. The vessel had been deployed to the Asia-Pacific region since September for operations Projection and Neon, in which members conduct training, exercises and engagement with foreign navies.
Commodore Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific describes Earle as a “sailors sailor” with almost 2,000 days at sea.
Earle joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 as member of the naval reserve at HMCS Chippawa. He switched to the regular forces and served many deployments over the years. This is his second deployment on operation Projection.
Our hearts are broken 💔— Amber Comisso (@cdnnavylady) December 15, 2020
Please keep @HMCSWinnipeg in your thoughts & prayers.
There are no words for the sorrow onboard...
It’s believed Earle accidentally fell overboard in the early hours of Dec. 14 while the ship was 500 nautical miles west of San Francisco, Calif. He was last seen around 5 a.m. local time and noticed missing when he did not turn up for a departmental meeting. After two standard searches of HMCS Winnipeg, the vessel turned around and began a search, assisted by a Cyclone helicopter and an RCAF Aurora out of Comox that was on routine patrol and retasked to the search.
Ongoing search efforts, coordinated out of the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Alameda, Calif., include Canadian Forces with help from rescue centres in California, the Royal Canadian Air Force and assets from the United States Coast Guard.
“We are working very closely with them to ensure master sailor Earle is given the best chance of being rescued despite the challenges presented by the sea state and distance from shore,” Topshee said during a Tuesday press conference in Esquimalt.
His family has been notified and is being supported.
“Today marks a tragic turn of events after a year that has taken a large toll on many of our Canadian Armed Forces members and families,” Lieut. General Christopher Coates, commander for Canadian joint operations command said in a statement. “I am profoundly saddened by this accident and I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of our missing sailor and I hope we will be able to provide you with some solace during this extremely difficult time.”