Canada transfers command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two

News release

December 16, 2019 – Taranto, Italy – National Defence/Canadian Armed Forces

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, today.

Having assumed command during a ceremony on June 15, Commodore Kurtz commanded SNMG2 over the past six months.

This deployment represents Canada’s contribution to regional maritime security in support of NATO assurance measures in the Mediterranean and Black Sea region.  It was part of Operation REASSURANCE, under which Canada contributes to NATO collective defence and demonstrates solidarity with its Allies.  

Additional multimedia

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.


“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 contribution. The concrete leadership and drive of people like Commodore Kurtz demonstrates Canada’s unwavering commitment to NATO, serving shoulder to shoulder with our allies.”

—   The Honourable Harjit Singh Sajjan, Minister of National Defence

"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!”      

—   Rear Admiral Craig Baines, Maritime Component Commander, Canadian Joint Operations Command

“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.”

—   Commodore Josée Kurtz, Commander Standing NATO Maritime Group Two

Quick facts

  • 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. These 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. 

  • Commodore Josée Kurtz assumed Command of SNMG2 on June 15, 2019, and hoisted her flag in Canadian frigate HMCS Toronto, which had already been sailing with SNMG2 since earlier in the year. 

  • Commodore Josée Kurtz was supported by six dedicated Canadian staff members, nine international staff members (from Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland, Romania, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom), and a number of Flagship staff members who provided direct support to the international effort.

  • Commodore Josée Kurtz had 1355 NATO personnel under her command at any one time. Under her command, SNMG2 participated in six exercises, conducted 23 port visits, and spent 121 days at sea. 

  • At the end of July, Commodore Josée Kurtz and her command team transferred to Canadian frigate HMCS Halifax, which had just arrived in the region for its deployment in support of Operation REASSURANCE. HMCS Halifax is scheduled to remain on deployment with NATO until January 2020.

  • 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.  

Associated links


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Department of National Defence
Phone:  613-904-3333

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