The search has been called off for a missing Canadian Armed Forces member from Winnipeg who is presumed drowned off the coast of California.
Officials said Wednesday the search ended without being able to find Master Sailor Duane Earle.
It’s believed Earle accidentally fell overboard HMCS Winnipeg about 1,000 kilometres west of San Francisco early Monday.
Later in the day, the crew realized Earle was missing and immediately turned the ship around to conduct a search.
The crew of 250 will now be heading back to its base in Esquimalt, B.C.
“These have been an extremely difficult couple of days for the ship’s company,” said Cmdr. Mike Stefanson, commanding officer of HMCS Winnipeg.
“We have completed a challenging deployment, in very uncertain times both at home and overseas, and we will continue to stand together through this incredibly sad time. I would like to offer my sympathies to the family and friends of Master Sailor Earle. He will be sorely missed.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sent out his condolences.
“Today, with the call to end the search and rescue mission, all Canadians mourn the loss of Master Sailor (MS) Duane Earle in Monday’s tragic accident aboard HMCS Winnipeg,” he said.
“For over 30 years, MS Earle selflessly answered the call of duty. His dedication to our country and its values represented the very best of what it means to be Canadian.
“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I offer my deepest condolences to MS Earle’s family and loved ones. Our thoughts are with them, his shipmates, and with the entire Canadian Armed Forces as they grieve this loss.”
Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman echoed those thoughts.
“On behalf of the Winnipeg’s City Council and citizens of Winnipeg, I would like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and coworkers of Master Sailor Duane Earle during this most difficult time.
“As a city, we have a long and cherished connection with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship Winnipeg. We are proud of the men and women of the Royal Canadian Navy who go to sea to safeguard our country’s peace and security, and their extraordinary skill and professionalism. The news about Master Sailor Earle fills us with profound sadness – across our whole community, our extended family of Winnipeggers both here and around the world.
“In such a painful and anxious time, our bonds of community have never been more important. I hope it will help to provide some measure of strength and comfort knowing that our community is grieving this loss alongside the family and friends of Master Sailor Duane Earle and members of the Royal Canadian Navy.”
HMCS Winnipeg is returning from a deployment in the Asia Pacific that began in September.
An investigation is underway to determine what happened. More information is expected to be available in the coming weeks.