The decorated coffin of the Canadian naval crewman who died in a submarine accident was flown home to Nova Scotia today after an Irish military send-off.
The body of Lieutenant Chris Saunders, 32, was met at Dublin airport by members of the Irish Defence Forces, the Naval Service and Canadian Navy personnel for the final stage of his tragic journey.
Members of the Canadian Naval Service, who had trained with Lieutenant Saunders carried his coffin, draped with the Canadian flag, from the black hearse on the runway.
Lieut-Col Stephen Moffet, a member of the Canadian Army based in London, said there would probably be a day of mourning for the young crewman in Canada.
The Lieut-Col said: “They reacted as a professional crew should and would in the circumstances. There is no doubt the country is proud of them.”
The Canadian ambassador to Ireland, Mark Moher, said: “They have had a very tough time, in the original accident and their time spent on the submarine.
“My understanding is their morale is good. They are professional and have done a good job.”
In a poignant military ceremony, seven men and one woman carried the metal coffin slowly towards the grey Canadian Forces Polaris aircraft.
They paused for several minutes on the runway for Bonnie Mason, the Presbyterian Canadian military Padre and Irish Military Chaplain Alan Ward, to bless and hold a short prayer service.
Thirty members of the Irish Naval Service formed an honorary guard, alongside 16 members of the Canadian Navy who were brought in yesterday evening for the ceremony.
Mr Moher, the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Jim Sreenan and the flag officer commanding the Irish Naval Services, Commodore Frank Lynch, attended the military send-off.
The British military attaché Col Paul Cummings, the American military attaché Col John O’Sullivan and Assistant Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy were also present.
The Canadian aircraft took off at 2pm for the five hour flight to Nova Scotia.
Lieut-Col Moffet said: “The coffin will be met by an honour guard made up of Lieutenant Saunders’ colleagues from the submarine division.
“He will be received back by his community in another five hours,” he added.