In memory of three colleagues of the CCGS Amundsen

As the Amundsen will proceed to its third crew change in Resolute Bay this Thursday, a solemn ceremony is planned on September 8, 2023, to commemorate the lives lost in a tragic accident related to the research icebreaker that happened 10 years ago.

On the afternoon of September 9 of 2013, the helicopter assigned to the research icebreaker was taken for an ice reconnaissance mission near McClure Strait. The helicopter pilot Daniel Dubé was accompanied by Marc Thibault, commanding officer of the CCGS Amundsen and Klaus Hochheim, a scientist from the University of Manitoba. All three of them tragically lost their life as the helicopter crashed about 600 kilometers west of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, abruptly putting an end to the scientific mission.

This incident deeply moved all of the CCG and Arctic science community. Marc Thibault, Daniel Dubé and Klaus Hochheim were three important and dedicated members of the Annual Amundsen Expedition as they took part in numerous cruises between 2003 and 2013.

Marc Thibault, Commanding Officer of the CCGS Amundsen

Throughout his career, Marc Thibault has served as Watchkeeping Mate, Chief Officer and Commanding Officer on Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) vessels. He graduated from the CCG College in August 1988. He spent 12 years as Commanding Officer aboard seven different vessels, and made 19 Arctic voyages.

Commander Thibault was an available, jovial, courteous and respectful man who demonstrated excellence during scientific missions with ArcticNet, resulting in worldwide visibility and renown for the expertise and professionalism of the CCG, and more specifically for the work carried out by the CCGS Amundsen. His loyalty to his crew and the organization, his 29 years of unconditional service to the people of Canada, and his contribution to Arctic scientific research are to be commended.

Daniel Dubé, Helicopter’s pilot

Daniel was an experienced pilot with 28 years’ experience piloting Canadian Coast Guard helicopters. Born and raised in Val d’Or, Quebec, Daniel obtained his helicopter pilot licence at Centre Québécois de Formation Aéronautique in Chicoutimi. After several years working in the private industry, he joined Aircraft Services as a Canadian Coast Guard pilot in 1985. Throughout the many things and missions he has accomplished, Daniel was a great supporter of the scientific programs and a very interested man. On many occasions, he supported the Maurice Lamontagne Institute’s annual water sampling mission with the Bell 212. He also participated in many Arctic voyages aboard CCG ships. Of note, he was part of the 2007-2008 International Polar Year’s voyage aboard the Amundsen as Pilot-in Command of the Bell 212. Daniel was qualified on the 3 helicopter types we had at the base.

For his colleagues, Daniel was a doer. He would always bring solutions to every problem. He was the wise man his peers and supervisors could always rely on for advice and help. For Daniel, his colleague from Transport Canada and the coast Guard were also part of his family. He was a great person to be around.

Klaus Hochheim, Scientist Affiliated to the University of Manitoba

Since 2005, Klaus Hochheim had worked with the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) contributing on various research projects about sea ice climatology and microwave and optical remote sensing of ocean-sea ice-atmosphere coupled processes. During the 2013 Amundsen Expedition, Klaus was at its seventh participation on board the research icebreaker, making him a precious scientific contributor and collaborator of the Amundsen. Klaus was very close to all his lab partners and for some of them he was also a mentor. His laugh and willingness to help, his ability to solve problems will be remembered.

We join our voice to the CCG, Transport Canada and to the scientific community to honour and pay tribute to those who have lost their lives during this fateful ice reconnaissance mission in the Arctic. A small gathering will be organized on September 8th by the CCG and Transport Canada to remember M. Thibault, M. Dubé and M. Hochheim and their contributions during each of their respective careers.

We would like to thank the Canadian Coast Guard and Transport Canada for their collaboration on this article.


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