Australia’s army chief on Sunday released the names of four aircrew feared killed when an Australian Defense Force helicopter crashed into the ocean off the coast of Queensland.
The MRH-90 helicopter was taking part in biennial Talisman Sabre military exercises between the United States and Australia when it ditched into waters close to Hamilton Island, about 890km (550 miles) north of state capital Brisbane, late on Friday.
Addressing media in Sydney, Chief of Army Lieutenant General Simon Stuart named the missing soldiers as Captain Daniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs.
All four were members of the Australian Army’s 6th Aviation regiment, based in Sydney.
“Let’s be focused on bringing them home,” Stuart said, adding that the search for the four young men continued.
The army would not fly MRH-90 helicopters until it considered it was safe to do so, he said.
Defense Minister Richard Marles told reporters in Townsville, Queensland, a full investigation would take place into the crash.
The incident overshadowed this weekend’s annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial (AUSMIN) dialogue between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and their Australian counterparts in Queensland state.
“My thoughts are with the four Australians who were involved in the helicopter crash,” Lloyd said in Townsville, addressing troops participating in Talisman Sabre.
The joint military exercises – temporarily paused amid the search for the missing aircrew – have now resumed.
The event comprises two weeks of war games involving more than 30,000 troops and participants from 11 other countries, in a show of force and unity amid China’s military build-up in the region.