Master Sailor Duane Earle has been reported missing from Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg, and it’s believed he has accidentally fallen overboard very early Monday, the Department of National Defence said.
The accident could have taken place when the ship was about 500 nautical miles west of San Francisco, California, en route back to Esquimalt, B.C., after being deployed to the Asia-Pacific region, according to officials.
Earle, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was not identified as missing until later Monday, at which point the HMCS Winnipeg turned around and a search commenced.
“It is with heavy hearts that we have learned of the devastating news that Master Sailor Duane Earle, a Boatswain with HMCS Winnipeg is missing,” General Jonathan Vance, chief of the defence staff, said in a statement. “Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, shipmates and the entire Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Armed Forces.”
A search operation is currently underway, with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in California coordinating with the Royal Canadian Air Force and the United States Coast Guard. The CAF will be conducting an investigation into the circumstances of how Earle went missing.
“We are dedicating all available resources to search for Master Sailor Duane Earle in hopes of bringing him home,” Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a statement.
Earle’s next of kin have been notified and the CAF is providing his family with the support needed.
“My thoughts are with the family and loved ones of Master Sailor Duane Earle, and the entire crew on board HMCS Winnipeg,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also expressed his concern on Twitter to Earle’s family and loved ones, and the crew of HMCS Winnipeg that they are “in our thoughts and prayers.”
The HMCS Winnipeg was deployed in the Asia-Pacific region to participate in a joint naval exercise with its allies from September to December. The fleet has about 230 officers and sailors.