According to the announcement of NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM) on 16 December, with a ceremony held at the Taranto Naval Base in Italy, command of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) was transferred to Rear Admiral Paolo Fantoni of the Italian Navy. The outgoing commander, Canada’s Commodore Josée Kurtz, had commanded the group for a six-month planned rotation which began in June, 2019.
Over the last six months, SNMG2 consisted of between seven and twelve ships, divided into two task units, and patrolled the length and breadth of the Mediterranean and Black Seas several times over.
“To Commodore Josée Kurtz, her command team, and to all of the ships that have contributed to the successes of Standing NATO Maritime Group Two over the last six months, Bravo Zulu. You have represented your nations and NATO with outstanding professionalism and have demonstrated the strength that NATO can harness. I am sure that Rear Admiral Fantoni will continue on this course, pulling together the contributions of nations from across the Alliance and working to a common purpose.” said Vice Admiral Keith Blount, Royal Navy, Commander of NATO Allied Maritime Command.
SNMG2 ships provide NATO with a constant presence to assure Allies and deter any potential aggressors; they supported Operation Sea Guardian, monitoring NATO’s sea lanes and contributing to maritime security; they monitored the migration crises in the Aegean Sea; and they routinely trained with Allies and Partners, including participation in six large multinational exercises and numerous individual training opportunities, enhancing Alliance interoperability.
Ceremony in Taranto was presided by Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean, Deputy Commander of NATO Maritime Command, as well as Harjit Sajjan, Minister of Defence of Canada.
The Standing Naval Forces (SNFs) are maritime forces with a multinational composition, available to NATO, for conducting exercise and operational activities, in order to guarantee a continuous maritime and deterrence capacity, to help demonstrate Alliance solidarity and ensure a first response from the sea to crises.
The SNFs constitute the maritime core of the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force and contribute to supporting the capacities of the Partner Countries in the southern Flank of the Alliance (Regional Capacity Building). The SNFs consist of multinational maritime forces employed by the Allied Maritime Command (MARCOM) of Northwood (GBR) and the Naval Forces employed are an integral part of the NATO Responce Force.