Four aircrew members of the Australian military have been declared dead after their helicopter crashed into the sea, CNN quoted Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles as saying on Monday. The incident happened on Friday during an exercise that was part of a joint exercise between Australia and the United States. The four dead have been identified as Captain Daniel Lyons, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class II Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Knaggs.
“The loss of these four men is as important and meaningful as the loss of anyone who wears the uniform of our country. If so, as we imagine, he died on Friday night, which makes all the difference,’ CNN quoted Marles as saying. According to CNN reports, the crew was forced to abandon the MRH-90 Taipan helicopter in the sea near Hamilton Island off the east coast of Australia.
“Significant debris from the MRH-90 helicopter has now been found,” Marles said. This indicates that these people are likely to have died in the “catastrophic” incident late on Friday. Marles further said that while “determined recovery efforts involving hundreds of Defense Force personnel” are underway, there will be a “full investigation” to understand exactly what happened. The aircraft “impacted the waters” near Lindemann Island, off the coast of Queensland state. A search operation involving both search and rescue aircraft and maritime vessels is underway, CNN quoted the Australian Ministry of Defense as saying.
“It’s been a very difficult weekend for our country,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday in the Australian parliament as he mourned the loss of soldiers. “They were soldiers, and they were sons, husbands, brothers, fathers, friends, and today our deepest sympathies are with those who loved them, and the people they loved,” Albanese was quoted as saying by CNN. He added that this “horrible incident is a stark reminder that there are no safe or easy days for those who serve in the name of our country.” The mission was part of a large-scale military exercise involving the United States, known as Talisman Saber.
The exercise is conducted alternately between the two countries every other year and often involves other allied forces as well, reports CNN. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who were both in Australia, spoke about the missing in the crash. “We’re thinking of the families, their friends, their comrades,” Blinken said. “Whatever they’re doing is for the freedom that we share, and that’s what unites us more than anything else, and we’re moving forward with aid,” he said.
Austin said it is “always difficult” to suffer accidents during training. “But we train to such high standards so that we can be successful and save lives when we are called upon to respond to any kind of crisis,” he added. CNN quoted Brigadier Damian Hill, director of the Talisman Saber exercise, as saying at a Brisbane press conference that all participants “regardless of their country, have been put on hold to allow them to reach their families and tell them what is happening”. Is”.
Notably, Friday’s accident is the second time this year that the Australian military has been forced to abandon the MRH-90 Taipan at sea. Two people were also reported injured in a previous incident in March, which was described as ‘engine failure’. As CNN reports, in 2019 the Australian government announced it would retire its entire fleet of Airbus-built Taipans several years ahead of schedule, describing the Taipans as “a concern for the last decade”.