MRH-90 Incident – July 2023

Background

On 28 July 2023, an MRH-90 Taipan helicopter participating in Exercise Talisman Sabre impacted waters in the vicinity of the Whitsunday Islands, off the Queensland coast.

Tragically, Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class 2 Joseph ‘Philip’ Laycock, and Corporal Alexander Naggs from the 6th Aviation Regiment were killed in the incident.

Welfare and support

This is a difficult time for the Defence community. There are a range of support services available:

Ex-service organisations also offer support to current and former ADF members and their families, you can find these via the Department of Veterans’ Affairs website.

A further comprehensive list of welfare support services is also available to download.

Welfare support for ADF members, their family and friends (PDF 674.24 KB)

Funerals and memorial services

Funeral services have been held for all four members.

On 27 September 2023, the 6th Aviation Regiment, family and friends held a memorial service to pay tribute to the fallen aircrew. The memorial remembered the lives, dedication and spirit of Captain Danniel Lyon, Lieutenant Maxwell Nugent, Warrant Officer Class 2 Joseph ‘Philip’ Laycock, and Corporal Alexander Naggs. Representatives from the Government, Opposition, and senior Defence leadership also attended.

Recovery of the aircraft

The ADF recovery effort in response to the MRH-90 incident in the Whitsundays has now concluded.

The search and recovery effort involved hundreds of ADF personnel, international military and civilian agencies.

The ADF is confident that the search has provided all of the necessary wreckage for the Aviation Safety Investigation, and provided as much closure to the families of the fallen as is possible.

Defence wishes to thank all those involved for their tireless efforts, and appreciates the support of all Queensland state authorities involved in the operation.

Read the statement published on 9 November 2023.

Investigations

There are currently four investigations underway:

  1. On 29 July 2023, an Aviation Safety Investigation Team from the Defence Flight Safety Bureau was appointed to investigate the incident. The Defence Flight Safety Bureau is an independent accident and incident investigative body of aviation safety events and issues. The Defence Flight Safety Bureau’s obligation is to conduct a thorough and objective investigation. A 30 Day Preliminary Report has been released to Defence by the Defence Flight Safety Bureau. This report is factual in nature and does not offer any investigative insight at this stage. The Defence Flight Safety Bureau issues a preliminary report as part of its standard investigation process. The full investigation is expected to take up to 12 months to be completed.

  2. The Queensland Coroner also initiated an investigation immediately following the incident.

  3. On 1 August 2023, Comcare commenced a Work, Health and Safety Act 2011 investigation. The Comcare Family Liaison Officer is the primary point of contact between bereaved families and seriously injured people and their families throughout a Comcare investigation into a workplace incident. Their role is to help families understand Comcare’s processes and keep them updated on the progress of inquiries. The Family Liaison Officer can also provide referrals to community-based support services. The Comcare Family Liaison Officer can be contacted via: familyliaison@comcare.gov.au

  4. The Inspector-General of the Australian Defence Force has initiated an inquiry into the MRH-90 incident in accordance with their authority to investigate the death of a member of the ADF under the Inspector-General Australian Defence Force Regulation 2016.

All ADF personnel involved in these Inquiries are being provided appropriate support.