Exercise Talisman Sabre incident

Joint media statement with Queensland Police Service

Defence offers its deepest condolences to the families of the four soldiers who tragically lost their lives during a training accident off the coast of Queensland on Friday, 28 July 2023.

Australian Army Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class Two Joseph Laycock and Corporal Alexander Naggs tragically died when the helicopter they were flying impacted waters off Hamilton Island.

We recognise that incidents of this nature are deeply upsetting for all involved and this is felt across the Defence community.

We are particularly aware of the impact this incident has had on the families of the missing soldiers. We will continue to support them over the coming days, weeks and years, and as their needs change.

Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General Greg Bilton said he was extremely grateful for the ongoing support from our allies and partners.

“Our focus remains on bringing our people home to their families and supporting the Defence family through this difficult period,” Lieutenant General Bilton said.

“The significant multinational operation engaged in the search, rescue and recovery effort, involving hundreds of defence force personnel, international military and civilian agencies, will continue.”

Ongoing operations have recovered a range of aircraft debris and located major sections of the fuselage. The crew have not yet been located.

Defence continues to work closely with the Queensland Police Service (QPS) to aid the recovery efforts.

Superintendent Graeme Paine said since the determination has been made that the search and rescue is now a recovery mission, QPS is working to prepare a report for the coroner.

“Members of the public who locate debris are urged not to handle it and to contact police. Handling of any debris could impact investigations or cause injury,” Superintendent Paine said.

“An exclusion zone remains in place in waters south of Hamilton Island, and there is also an exclusion zone of 1000 metres from any military vessel, until on-water operations cease.”

The exclusion zone incorporates waters from the southern tip of Long Island, east to Perseverance Island, south to Cole Island, and west to the mainland at Round Head.

Queensland police vessels Damian Ledding and Lyle Hoey, as well as QPS police divers, remain on the scene assisting the ADF in its search.

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