Today Commodore Josée Kurtz of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) transferred command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) to Rear Admiral Paolo Fantoni of the Italian Navy, during a ceremony at the Taranto Naval Base in Italy.
Having assumed command during a ceremony on June 15, Commodore Kurtz commanded SNMG2 over the past six months.
“I am deeply honoured to have had the opportunity to command Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. Working with our international staff, and commanding ships from Albania, Bulgaria, Canada, Germany, Greece, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom has been an absolute privilege. The more you work with NATO the more you understand that its biggest strength is its diversity – from sailors to ships, to nations. Having had the opportunity to see that diversity up close, and to harness it on operation every day, has been truly inspiring,” said Commodore Josée Kurtz, Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group Two.
SNMG2 is one of four high-readiness standing maritime forces that provide NATO with a constant presence, monitoring the sea lanes and approaches, and providing a capability to respond to contingencies.
The groups routinely conduct operational missions, train with Allies and Partners to enhance interoperability, and conduct diplomatic visits.
They serve as a consistently ready maritime force to support the NATO Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.
“I am proud of Commodore Kurtz and all of the sailors under her Command for the work they have done. NATO is the most successful military and political alliance in the world, and as a founding member, Canada has a long history of meaningful contributions. The concrete leadership and drive of people like Commodore Kurtz demonstrate Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO, serving shoulder to shoulder with our allies,” said Harjit Singh Sajjan, minister of national defence.
The deployment represents Canada’s contribution to regional maritime security in support of NATO assurance measures in the Mediterranean and the Black Sea region.
It was part of Operation REASSURANCE, under which Canada contributes to NATO collective defence and demonstrates solidarity with its Allies.
Commanding SNMG2 from HMCS Halifax had extra significance for Commodore Josée Kurtz, as she was the ship’s Commanding Officer from 2009-2011. She is also the first female to command Standing NATO Maritime Group, in NATO’s history.
“Commodore Josée Kurtz did an outstanding job commanding Standing NATO Maritime Group Two. She led an international team from two Canadian Flagships, commanded a multinational maritime task group as part of Canada’s NATO reassurance efforts, and supported regional security through NATO’s Operation SEA GUARDIAN. Bravo Zulu!,” said Rear Admiral Craig Baines, Maritime Component Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command.
Photo:Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Deputy Commander Allied Maritime Command (centre), presides over the Change of Command Ceremony of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two, between Commodore Josée Kurtz, Royal Canadian Navy (left), and Rear Admiral Paolo Fantoni, Italian Navy, at the Taranto Naval Base, Italy, 16 December 2019.