Canadian navy investigates unexplained death of officer stationed in Arabian Gulf
MAHE, SEYCHELLES // The crew of a Canadian warship are resuming their duties off the UAE and Oman while coming to terms with the mysterious death of one of their comrades.
Lt Andrew Webster, 33, was serving on the frigate HMCS Toronto, which has been taking part in anti-piracy and counter-terrorism operations in the Arabian Sea since last February and last year docked in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Lt Webster was found dead in his hotel room on January 2 while on shore leave on Mahe, the main island of the Seychelles, after the warship docked there.
The circumstances of his death remain unclear. After a post-mortem examination a Seychelles official said he died of asphyxia.
But a public affairs officer with the Royal Canadian Navy, Sadie Toulany, said: “The exact circumstances remain under investigation by the Seychelles authorities and the Canadian Forces Military Police.
“We are aware that a spokesperson from the Seychelles police authority has indicated a cause of death.
“However, we are not in a position to confirm any additional information as the military police investigation into this incident is still ongoing.”
The body of Lt Webster, from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, was flown home to Canada on Monday and a private military funeral is to be held in his home city on Saturday.
HMCS Toronto left Mahe’s Port Victoria on Monday to return to the Arabian Sea.
Lt Webster, who was married, had served in the navy for nearly 15 years and took part in two major operations in the region. He joined the Toronto last July and was the ship’s combat officer.
“It’s a difficult time for the entire ship’s company,” said Matthew Bowen, the vessel’s commander.
“Andrew was an outstanding naval officer. His forthright and outgoing nature inspired those around him.”
Friends and relatives have been posting tributes online. One said: “I have never met another human being that smiled as much as Andrew.”
Another wrote: “I am truly very thankful for the great times that I had with Andrew. We shared many laughs.”
The Toronto will remain in the Arabian Gulf until she is relieved by HMCS Regina.
The Toronto has intercepted and destroyed seven drug shipments weighing a total of 7.8 tonnes during her deployment.
Updated: January 9, 2014 04:00 AM