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French officials recognise SAR crew effort

12th May 2009 - 15:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team


Members of the 103 Search and Rescue Squadron, Canadian Armed Forces and other agencies--who were involved in a 2008 search and rescue operation of a French vessel--received medals from French officials in recognition of their efforts during a ceremony at the Canadian Coast Guard Station in St. John's, N.L., on April 24, 2009.

In his remarks, Jean-Pierre Berçot, prefect of the French island of Saint-Pierre et Miquelon, emphasized the importance of the relationship that exists between France and Canada, and the special working relationship with the Canadian Coast Guard and the Canadian military that was highlighted during the Cap Blanc mission.

In the early hours of December 2, 2008, 103 Squadron was informed of an overdue vessel, the Cap Blanc, from Saint-Pierre et Miquelon. The Cap Blanc had departed Argentia, N.L., located on the southwest coast of the Avalon Peninsula, late in the evening of Dec. 1, and was now reported overdue by French authorities.

Within minutes, a Cormorant helicopter and its crew were on their way to the last known position of the Cap Blanc. Upon arriving at the scene, the crew saw a red haul of what appeared to be the front of the Cap Blanc protruding out of the water. The Cap Blanc had capsized.

The Canadian Coast Guard Cutter W. Jackman and the RCMP police vessel Murray were at the scene as well. A second Cormorant was launched; the plan was for the SAR techs to dive to the overturned vessel and search for the four crew members who may have still been inside. As the SAR techs were preparing for the dive, the Cap Blanc suddenly slipped into the ocean and sank.

The search for the missing crewmembers went on for three days. Crews from 103 Squadron and 413 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Greenwood, N.S., along with members of the Canadian Coast Guard and the RCMP, searched the Placentia Bay area with hope of finding the Cap Blanc crewmembers. Unfortunately, the search was officially called off after three days.

By Captain Paul Hamlyn - Canadian Armed Forces


The Shephard News Team


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