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Moose Jaw teen heads to Halifax to be 'Captain for a Day' of a Royal Navy ship

A teenager from Moose Jaw has won the British High Commission’s Captain for a Day competition, which means she will be heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 30 to take (temporary) command of HMS Protector.

A teenager from Moose Jaw has won the British High Commission’s Captain for a Day competition, which means she will be heading to Halifax, Nova Scotia on June 30 to take (temporary) command of HMS Protector.

Brynn Forness is a 13-year-old Moose Jaw girl whose video submission was announced on June 14 as the winner of the national competition.

Brynn will join Captain Milly Ingham — the first female in the rank of Captain to command a Royal Navy ship — on the bridge of Her Majesty’s Ship (HMS) Protector.

HMS Protector is the Royal Navy’s only Ice Patrol Ship. Usually operational in the Antarctic and Southern Hemisphere, the state-of-the-art survey vessel is touring Eastern Canada where it will take part in events aimed at collaboration in the areas of defence, security, science, and climate change. 

“I’m incredibly excited to welcome Brynn aboard HMS Protector,” said Capt. Ingham. “Her passion and enthusiasm shone through in her application. Giving girls like her the hands on experience of life onboard a Royal Navy Ship is so important as we look to attract more women in the Armed Forces.”

Prior to taking command of HMS Protector, Ingham was the first female navigator of HMS Ocean, at the time the largest ship in the Royal Navy. Ingham has deployed to the Gulf of Aden and Somalia as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and twice to the Mediterranean as part of a NATO Task Group.

Brynn was chosen by Ingham and British High Commissioner Susannah Goshko from a selection of girls across Canada who entered the competition by submitting a video in which they answered the question of what HMS Protector should do on its first visit to the Canadian Arctic. Brynn recommended the ship visit northern communities to better understand their unique culture and identity.

Brynn and her parents will be flown to Halifax where they will meet Ingham and her crew. During the day, she will participate in various exercises including essential navigation, running of the ship, managing crew, and using the ship’s research and scientific equipment to help carry out missions.

At the end of the day, the Forness family will join the British High Commission delegation at the annual Royal Nova Scotia Military Tattoo.

“We’re all very, very excited,” said Dani Forness, Brynn’s mother, “and still kind of in shock that she was chosen. Who would think that a little girl from the Prairies would be chosen to go be captain of a ship? … This is going to be huge for her.”

Forness said that Brynn is getting increasingly excited to be “in command” for a day. She is reminding her daughter that being the boss will only last as long as they’re on the ship.

“I am honoured to have been chosen as captain for a day and eager to meet Captain Milly and crew,” Brynn said.

When she first found out she had won, she couldn’t talk.

“I was mostly speechless, I couldn’t think of anything to say. I was, like, blown away and I couldn’t imagine that I won. Still can’t. It all felt like a dream.”

Being able to see a big icebreaker and learn about it is what Brynn is most looking forward — the Royal Nova Scotia Tattoo is a close second.

Asked how she feels about having a captain’s authority, Brynn said she’s “definitely a little bit nervous. I was talking with my dad and I was saying how I’m gonna be able to rank higher than him.”

Brynn's winning video submission can be seen on the @UKinCanada Twitter account.

Learn more about HMS Protector at ukincanada.com/protector-in-canada-22