One Canadian military member missing from HMCS Winnipeg

News release

December 15, 2020 – Ottawa – National Defence / Canadian Armed Forces

One member of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) went missing on Monday, December 14, 2020, while deployed in Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg.

Missing is Master Sailor Duane Earle, a Boatswain, from Winnipeg, Manitoba. 

The details are still being determined, but it is believed he accidently fell overboard very early on December 14, while the ship was approximately 500 nautical miles west of San Francisco, California, en route back to Esquimalt after being deployed to the Asia-Pacific region on Operations PROJECTION and NEON.

MS Earle was not identified as missing until later in the day, at which point HMCS Winnipeg turned back along its route and commenced a search, along with its embarked CH-148 Cyclone helicopter. The search effort is being coordinated by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Alameda County, California and includes Royal Canadian Air Force and United States Coast Guard assets.

MS Earle’s next of kin have been notified and the CAF is providing his family with the support needed to help them through this difficult time.

The CAF will conduct an investigation into the circumstances of how the member went missing.

More details will be released in the near future.


“We are dedicating all available resources to search for Master Sailor Duane Earle in hopes of bringing him home. During these difficult times, I keep his family and friends in my thoughts. Each and every day, Canadian Armed Forces members across the country put service to Canada ahead of thoughts of their own safety. The entire Defence Team will be there for his family during these challenging times.”

The Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

“It is with heavy hearts that we have learned of the devastating news that Master Sailor Duane Earle, a Boatswain with HMCS Winnipeg is missing. Our thoughts go out to his family, friends, shipmates and the entire Royal Canadian Navy and Canadian Armed Forces.”

General Jonathan Vance, Chief of the Defence Staff

“Today marks a tragic turn of events after a year that has taken a large toll on many of our Canadian Armed Forces members and families. I am profoundly saddened by this accident and I want to express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends and loved ones of our missing sailor and I hope we will be able to provide you with some solace during this extremely difficult time.”

Lieutenant General Christopher Coates, Commander Canadian Joint Operations Command

"Our thoughts are with the family, friends and loved ones of our missing shipmate, Master Sailor Duane Earle. With this happening so close to the end of this deployment and with the Holiday Season looming, it’s simply devastating and is felt across our extended naval family.”

Vice-Admiral Art McDonald, Commander, Royal Canadian Navy

Quick facts

  • From September to December 2020, Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Winnipeg was deployed in the Asia-Pacific region on Operation PROJECTION Asia-Pacific and Operation NEON, to further strengthen Canada’s relations with partners in the area.

  • During these operations, the Canadian Armed Forces conduct training, exercises, and engagements with foreign navies and other international security partners.

  • HMCS Winnipeg has approximately 230 highly trained and professional officers and sailors who were well-prepared to meet the challenges of their deployment on Operations PROJECTION and NEON. HMCS Winnipeg delivered robust capabilities working with our partner navies to strengthen international partnerships and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.


Media Relations
Department of National Defence

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