Sailor Profile: Lt(N) Stephanie Bengle

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Navy News / October 16, 2020

Lieutenant (Navy) (Lt(N)) Stephanie Bengle is the first of her family to serve Canada in the armed forces, and admittedly never considered military service until later in high school.

“I admit, it was never something I considered at first, but once I did my research I became very intrigued by it. Although I have no service members in my family, my father was the first person who piqued my interest in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN),” says Lt(N) Bengle.

“Both my parents were my biggest supporters as I started to become interested in a career in the RCN and studying at Royal Military College of Canada (RMC). After deciding that RMC was the right fit for me, I enrolled in the RCN in 2010 and it’s been an adventure ever since.”

Since enrolling in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) in 2010 Lt(N) Bengle’s career has been nothing short of an adventure filled with both challenges and experiences that have helped her grow personally.

“My biggest career has most definitely been my recent deployment on Op REASSURANCE onboard Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax from July 2019 to January 2020,” says Lt(N) Bengle.

“It was my first deployment and it was quite a learning experience for me. In fact, I am still learning from it to this day. I do not think anything can prepare you for how it will feel to be disconnected from your world and routine back home.”

Even though this is an experience shared by all who deploy, there was a wonderful support system aboard HMCS Halifax for Lt(N) Bengle to access.

“To overcome the challenges of the deployment I did a few things. First, I leaned on my close friends who were deployed with me. I was fortunate to deploy with fellow RCN members whom I had known for most of my career,” she recalled.

“Sharing that experience with them helped me and strengthened my bond with those members I consider my family. Second, I reached out back home to as many friends and family members as I could. The support from those closest to me helped keep me going and reminded me that I was fortunate to have such amazing people in my life.”

And finally, “I reminded myself that this experience was important and would give me the tools to be better in my career and to help others in the future.”

When asked why she has remained in the RCN, Lt(N) Bengle had this to offer.

“I have stayed in the RCN because I know that it is a good career for me, I value the security that it provides, I cherish the opportunities, and I am proud to serve Canada. Although I did not see myself in this career when I was younger, I am truly thankful that I have found my place within the RCN and I am thankful to be a member.”

October marks Women’s History Month, and Lt(N) Bengle believes that the celebration of women’s achievements during the month has a profound effect on future generations of women.

“It has an impact on how young girls and women see themselves as strong, capable and inspiring beings,” said Lt(N) Bengle.

“By studying and honouring the women who have stood before us, we can have a greater appreciation for the challenges they have faced and the road they have paved for many of us today. I think it is incredibly important for each generation, as young girls look up to these women who they see as role models, and they can feel inspired to reach further than they ever thought they could.”

One of Lt(N) Bengle’s role models is the RCN’s own Commodore (Cmdre) Josée Kurtz, under whom she was fortunate to serve as Flag Lieutenant while Cmdre Kurtz held command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2).

“During this time Cmdre Kurtz sailed onboard HMCS Halifax as our ship was the command platform, and I had ample time to learn from her. She has inspired me and motivated me in many ways,” explained Lt(N) Bengle.

“She paved many paths being the first woman to command a Canadian Patrol Frigate as well as the first woman to command a Standing NATO Fleet. Those two achievements are inspiring enough, but beyond those personal accomplishments she taught me many important lessons, such as how to bring grace and humility to my job, and how to bring a sense of calmness and composure when things get complicated or frustrating.”

When asked what the best advice she has received from a woman she considers a role model, she had this to pass along: “The best advice I have received at work from a woman who I consider a role model is to fight through self-doubt, persevere, and prove to myself that I am a capable person. That advice is some of the most valuable to remember no matter who you are or what you do for a living,” says Lt(N) Bengle.

“I think it is advice I will call on when approaching any difficult job or challenge I face in my future and for the rest of my life.”