Saskatoon

HMCS Regina crew names helicopter after Humboldt Broncos

Crew aboard HMCS Regina have renamed their helicopter in honour of the Humboldt Broncos bus crash.

Ship is in Indian Ocean disrupting drug, weapons trafficking

Members of HMCS Regina's air detachment in front of their newly renamed helicopter Bronco. (Cpl. Stuart Evans/Submitted)

As they sail hundreds of miles away from home, crew aboard HMCS Regina felt the need to carry a little piece of home with them.

The call sign of the ship's new patrol helicopter has now been changed to Bronco, in honour of the 16 people who died and 13 people who were injured in the team's bus crash in Saskatchewan last year. 

"It was a really good opportunity to support not only the players and the families as well as the city but it also gave us some determination and something to strive towards," said Maj. Jason Newton, the ship's air officer. "We can never forget about these things that happened back home and the little things in life that we really need to appreciate."

The idea came from a technician who heard about the accident. The idea spread through the crew like wildfire. 

Members of the air crew now wear special Broncos-inspired patches.

The frigate's commander said it was a great idea, especially considering the ship's ties to Saskatchewan.

"I was ecstatic about it," said Cmdr. Jake French. "It establishes that meaningful connection with people in the province that we've been working hard to do."

Members of HMCS Regina's air detachment had special patches made to commemorate the Humboldt Broncos. (Submitted by Cpl. Stuart Evans)

HMCS Regina is currently in the Indian Ocean, trying to disrupt drug smuggling operations and weapons smuggling, often connected to terrorist groups.

The Bronco helicopter is used to expand the ship's radar coverage, calling back to home base and giving HMCS Regina a better idea of activity in the area.

Since it was commissioned in 1994, HMCS Regina has tried to maintain ties to its civic namesake.

"We have a great connection with the Roughriders, we have great connection with some local schools," said French. "The City of Regina does mean something to the ship."

The process to rename the helicopter and create the patch took months as the crew worked with both the Royal Canadian Air Force as well as the Humboldt Broncos.

"I was really happy that we could get that permission from Humboldt to use that logo and sort of get that connection to the province that I think is very meaningful," said French.

The ship will be on its mission until August.

About the Author

David Shield is a web writer for CBC Saskatoon.

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