Deadly Canadian helicopter crash during NATO exercise

On April 29, a Royal Canadian Air Force Sikorsky CH-148 Cyclone helicopter on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) military mission, with six Canadians on board,  crashed violently in the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece. It had flown from the Canadian naval frigate HMCS Fredericton, whose home port is Halifax, which was deployed in the Greater Mediterranean and the Black Sea as part of Operation REASSURANCE.

The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) has members serving on Operation REASSURANCE in Central and Eastern Europe. They are there as part of NATO, to reinforce that organization’s “collective defence.” During this operation, the CAF is conducting training, military exercises, and some NATO-specific tasks.

On January 20, HMCS Fredericton set sail for a six-month deployment on Operation REASSURANCE. Since 2014, the CAF have deployed a frigate on a persistent rotational basis to be employed in exercises and operational tasks that are part of NATO’s Maritime Command.

HMCS Fredericton‘s deployment is part of a range of activities that include the provision of military capabilities for training, exercises, demonstrations and assigned NATO tasks and demonstrates Canada’s involvement in warmongering in Central and Eastern Europe.

Prime Minister Trudeau, in announcing the crash, described Operation REASSURANCE as “Canada at its best — bolstering security and stability in Central and Eastern Europe.”

The Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist) mourns the loss of life of the six Canadians who died and sends its sincere condolences to their families. However, Canada’s participation in this aggressive and warmongering military pact cannot in any way be attributed to the defence of Canada. Contrary to what the Prime Minister has declared,  it is bolstering insecurity and instability in Central and Eastern Europe and the Mediterranean. Furthermore, to maintain these exercises during a coronavirus pandemic  is leading to contagion on the ships and within the ranks of the troops of several NATO member countries, Canada included. It is unconscionable. 

On the occasion of May 9, the 75th anniversary of Victory Day, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude to the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe for their huge sacrifice during World War II, so that humanity could rid itself of Nazism and fascism. But it is not the cause of peace, freedom and democracy that NATO represents but preparations to embroil the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe in aggression and war once again. Canadians want to eliminate the threat of  aggression and war so that the world’s peoples can live in peace and security and further develop relations between countries based on mutual benefit.

Canada, Out of NATO Now!
Make Canada a Zone for Peace!

Slightly edited by TSB. (With files from PMO, Government of Canada)


In 2016, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) agreed to enhance its military presence in the eastern part of the alliance. As part of this effort, NATO established three distinct missions in Europe: an enhanced Forward Presence, Standing Naval Forces, and a tailored Forward Presence.

The Forward Presence mission consists of four multinational combat-ready battle groups based in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. These battle groups are led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and the United States, respectively – collectively known as framework nations for the enhanced Forward Presence. The presence of these battle groups makes clear that an attack on one member will be considered an attack on the whole alliance, and represents the biggest reinforcement of NATO’s collective defence in a generation.

Canada’s participation as a framework nation leading the battle group in Latvia includes: a Task Force and a Battle Group headquarters, an infantry company in Light Armoured Vehicles, a combat support company (intelligence and communications), and a support company (transportation, supply and medical).

Enhanced forward presence forces are complemented by logistics and infrastructure to support pre-positioning and to facilitate rapid reinforcement.

The multinational enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Latvia trains and exercises regularly. The exercises are multinational in nature and often integrate with the Latvian national defence forces and other allied forces from outside the Battle Group, which enhances interoperability, and enables versatility in employment within the region.

The Canada-led battle group is comprised of approximately 1,400 troops, with eight other contributing nations: Spain (300 troops), Poland (200), Italy (160), Slovakia (152), Czech Republic (60), Slovenia (50), Albania (21) and Montenegro (10).

Canada has committed to leading the battle group in Latvia until March 31, 2023. Canada’s Minister of National Defence and his Latvian counterpart regularly co-host meetings of Defence Ministers with troops in Latvia as part of the Canadian-led battle group. These meetings take place on the margins of the NATO Defence Ministerial meetings.

This mission includes four multinational integrated Standing Maritime Groups: two destroyer/frigate groups and two mine countermeasures groups. These groups are continuously available to perform tasks ranging from participating in exercises to conducting NATO missions.

Standing Maritime Groups provide NATO with an immediate operational response capability.

Canada currently deploys a frigate to the Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, which conducts patrols and exercises in the Mediterranean Sea and Black Sea. Command of the Maritime Group rotates between nations, with Italy currently commanding, replacing Canada in January. HMCS Fredericton is a unit of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.

This mission refers to air policing activities in the southeastern region of the alliance. It involves the 24/7 presence of fighter aircraft ready to react quickly.

To conduct the air policing mission, allies forward deploy aircraft to bases in three regions: the Baltic States, Romania/Bulgaria, and Iceland.

Canada contributes up to six CF-18 fighter aircraft and 135 personnel on a four-month episodic basis to conduct air policing, surveillance, and training activities.

With files from Government of Canada, NATO)

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