The chopper that went down earlier this month in the M'Clure Strait in Arctic waters has been found. But now it has to be recovered from the depths.

Three men died in the crash, after the helicopter took off from the coast guard icebreaker the Amundsen two weeks ago. The helicopter never returned. When the Amundsen hurried to investigate, crew members found the bodies of the three men floating in the water, wearing their survival suits.

After the accident, the Amundsen returned to Resolute Bay, Nunavut, with the bodies. It later returned to the scene to recover the chopper from the frigid water.

Investigation continues

The Transportation Safety Board said a remote-operated vehicle found the helicopter on the ocean floor, in water about 450 metres deep.

The coast guard, ArcticNet and the TSB are working together to recover it. But they say ice and weather conditions are making that difficult.

"While the aim is to recover the helicopter as quickly as possible, ensuring the safety of the personnel and vessels involved in this operation is a first priority," the TSB said in a release. 

Amundsen helicopter

The TSB found the Amundsen's helicopter in roughly 450 metres of water. (Transportation Safety Board)


In addition to the Amundsen, the coast guard icebreaker Henry Larsen is also assisting with the operation. The former is operating the unmanned vehicle. The latter is in charge of clearing ice.

TSB lead investigator Jean-Marc Ledoux said the plan is to raise the chopper as soon as conditions allow.

"The ship has to be quite stabilized in order to make a good recovery," he said. "If there's too much ice around the ship they won't be able to lift up the wreckage through the ice, so they have to move the ice away in order to be able to lift up the wreckage."

He said he hopes the chopper will be recovered by the end of Wednesday.

Once that's done, the helicopter will be transported to a TSB lab to inspect "all types of components, engines, transmission, blades and the wreckage itself" to determine what happened, Ledoux said.