Manitoba

Search called off for Winnipeg sailor missing from Canadian navy ship, military says

The search for a master sailor who went missing in the waters west of San Francisco has been called off, the Canadian military says.

Master Sailor Duane Earle, 47, is believed to have accidentally fallen overboard HMCS Winnipeg early Monday

The search has ended for a master sailor who is believed to have fallen overboard from HMCS Winnipeg, seen here dockside in Vancouver in 2014. (Jimmy Jeong/The Canadian Press)

The search for a master sailor who went missing in the waters west of San Francisco has ended, the Canadian military says.

Duane Earle, 47, of Winnipeg is believed to have accidentally fallen overboard HMCS Winnipeg early Monday, about 925 kilometres off the coast. A 30-hour search ended Tuesday evening, but Earle's body was not found, National Defence said in a statement.

"It is with a heavy heart that we announce that we have concluded our active search for Master Sailor Earle," Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, maritime component commander, said in a statement.

"This decision was not taken lightly. However, after extensive coverage of the search area we have not been able to locate him."

The ship was returning to Esquimalt, B.C., after being deployed to the Asia-Pacific region. With the search concluded, HMCS Winnipeg will continue to B.C., the statement said.

The Canadian Armed Forces will conduct an investigation into the circumstances around how Earle went missing, the statement said.

'We owe so much to those who serve'

In a statement Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered praise for Earle and condolences to his family and the larger Canadian Forces family. 

"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," Trudeau said.

"As a part of Operation Projection Asia-Pacific and Operation Neon, MS Earle and his shipmates showed Canada's commitment to international security and solidarity with our allies and partners. We honour their efforts to build a more peaceful world and thank them for their service.

"I would also like to thank our American allies, who joined the Canadian Armed Forces to search for our lost sailor."

Duane Earle, 47, of Winnipeg is believed to have accidentally fallen overboard HMCS Winnipeg early Monday. (Valerie LeClair/MARPAC Imaging Services)

Trudeau noted that in the last year alone, nine members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been lost to tragic events.

"All brave Canadians who put their lives at risk for the security and safety of our country," he said in the statement.

"We owe so much to those who serve, and in these times of difficulty and sadness, we will lean on one another and never forget those who were lost."

The people of Winnipeg have a "a long and cherished connection" with the ship that bears the city's name, Mayor Brian Bowman said in a statement released Wednesday.

"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," Bowman said.

"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."

The current HMCS Winnipeg has been in service since 1996 and has approximately 230 officers and sailors.

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