Master Sailor Earle HMCS Winnipeg
(Master Sailor Duane Earle/photo via HMCS Winnipeg Facebook)

A sailor who went missing during an operation off the coast of California is an experienced service member with nearly 2,000 days at sea, according to Navy officials.

Master Sailor Duane Earle is believed to have fallen overboard accidentally early on December 14 while he was serving on HMCS Winnipeg.

UPDATE: Sadly, the search for the master sailor has ended, the Canadian military says.

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.”

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Commodore Angus Topshee, Commander Canadian Fleet Pacific, described Earle as “a sailor’s sailor” with over a decade of experience.

“[Earle] has served on several ships and multiple deployments including operation PODIUM in 2010, and operation CARIBBE in 2014 and 2015,” said Topshee.

“This is his second deployment on operations PROJECT and NEON.”

Earle first joined the Canadian Armed Forces in June 1990, as a member of the naval reserve at HMCS Chippewa in Winnipeg, before transitioning to regular service.

The Commodore also provided further details on Earle’s disappearance, saying that Earle was last seen at approximately 5 a.m. PST on December 14.

When he failed to arrive for a scheduled departmental meeting at 12:30 p.m. PST and could not be located, a muster of the ship’s company and two rapid searches of the ship were undertaken.

A more thorough and detailed search of the ship was then performed, while HCMS Winnipeg turned around to commence a search of the surrounding water.

Commodore Topshee says that Earle went missing in conditions that were fairly standard for the region.

“Accidents at sea can happen in any conditions,” said Topshee.

“The reality is, that even in the best possible conditions, with calm seas and a bright sun…it can be very difficult to locate someone at sea.”

A joint operation to find the missing sailor is underway off the coast of California, headed by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Alameda County, California.

Topshee says that in addition to HMCS Winnipeg and several naval assets, a U.S. Coast Guard C-27 Spartan and California International Guard C-130 Hercules have joined the search.

Earle’s family was notified of his disappearance in person by the Commodore and his staff.

The investigation and search are still ongoing.

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