Q&A with HMCS Brandon’s Executive Officer deployed on Operation Caribbe

Lieutenant-Commander Tyler Ravnsgaard

Lieutenant-Commander Tyler Ravnsgaard

Captain Sarah Harasymchuk
Operation Caribbe PAO

Lieutenant-Commander Tyler Ravnsgaard is currently deployed on Operation Caribbe as the Executive Officer on board HMCS Brandon. His role is to advise the Commanding Officer, oversee training on board, and ensure the morale and welfare of the crew.

Operation Caribbe is Canada’s participation in the U.S.-led enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Caribbean Sea and the eastern Pacific Ocean. Naval warships and aircraft deploy to the region on a rotational basis to support the American-led multinational mission to suppress trafficking in international waters and airspace.

Are you the first person in your family to be in the military?

No. Both of my parents were in the military, as well as one of my aunts and one of my uncles. I am the first officer in my immediate family. I also have some ancestors on my mother’s side who were in the British and Danish militaries.

Why did you choose to join the Navy in particular?

My parents were in the Air Force and the Army, so I was somewhat familiar with those worlds. The navy offered something new and a different way of seeing the world. Travel was a big motivator for me to join. If I’m honest, I didn’t really know what I was getting into when I joined, but it ended up being a great choice for me.

What is your favourite activity to do in your free time while at sea?

There’s really not a lot of free time at sea, but I try to make time for exercise. There’s a lot of administration in my role and if I don’t get away from it for a bit each day my productivity drops. I also like to end my days with a book or TV show to take my mind out of the business for a little while.

What motivates you to be the Executive Officer (XO) of the ship?

Really, it’s the people I work with. In the end it’s the crew, not me, who achieves the mission. My favourite jobs in the navy have been the ones where I’ve been responsible for the training and welfare of the more junior members. It’s very rewarding to know I’ve had a positive impact on lives and careers. As XO I can have a significant impact on the day-to-day life of the crew, and that motivates me to do my best. You can’t always make the decisions that will make the crew happy as we have a mission to accomplish, and even when you can you don’t always get it right. I’m still learning, and I don’t think the learning will ever stop, but when I do get something right it’s a good day.

What was the hardest thing you’ve had to do in your career?

There’s two ways to think about this. The most challenging thing I’ve done is navigating a warship at night, at high speeds, in close proximity to dangers. There’s a lot that goes into that, and the pressure can feel immense.

The hardest thing I have had to do is bring bad news to a sailor. There are times when you’re in a position of responsibility and you have to inform somebody of something heartbreaking, knowing that there’s very little you can do to soften the blow. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen very often.

What’s the first thing you do after a long sail?

There’s a bit of a tradition among certain circles of a “shower, beer” as the first thing you do after a sail. It’s more or less how it sounds. There’s a lot of work that goes into the days we come alongside before we can leave the ship, and then we have to carry all our kit back into our homes. I typically smell a bit and am tired, so this helps me feel fresh and puts me in the time to unwind mindset. Part of my checklist before I leave for a long sail is to make sure I have a good beer in the fridge on my return.


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