Commander and crew rejoined, 10 years later

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Navy News / November 26, 2019

By Lieutenant (Navy) Stephanie Bengle

In 2009, Commodore (Cmdre) Josée Kurtz became the first woman to command a major Canadian warship with Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Halifax.

Now, 10 years later, she is also the first woman to command a standing NATO fleet, again aboard Halifax, with Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2) on Operation REASSURANCE.

Six sailors from that first command are serving with Cmdre Kurtz again and reflected on what it means to them.

“She was fair, just, honest and every crew member was important to her,” said Naval Electronic Sensor Operator Leading Seaman (LS) Joshua Sears on behalf of his mother Master Seaman (MS) Susana Sears, a Naval Combat Information Operator aboard Halifax in 2010. “Throughout my mother’s career, her favorite ship was HMCS Halifax while under the command of Cmdre Kurtz.”

“It is a privilege to have the opportunity nine years later to follow in her footsteps and to sail under her former Commanding Officer who she held in such high regard,” said LS Sears.

“She always emphasized the importance of the team as the foundation of our operations,” said Sonar Operator Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick Stevens, reflecting on Cmdre Kurtz’s first Halifax command.  

“It’s pretty special to be a part of the Commodore’s team again,” said MS Marco Moniz, a Boatswain’s Mate in Halifax who is proud to sail again with Cmdre Kurtz.

It doesn’t hurt that they both come from Lanaudière, Que.

“It’s a lot of small towns and communities where we come from, so everyone knows each other. We both enjoy supporting our local community and representing Joliette and Lanaudière in uniform,” he said.

Cmdre Kurtz said she has seen the sailors progress in their trades over the past decade.  She added that it’s rewarding to see them demonstrating growth and expertise in their professions.

“I am always motivated by the work and contribution of sailors in a ship’s company. To witness the leadership and dedication of former shipmates rewarded by their achievements and career success is even more exhilarating. I am simply delighted to have the opportunity to work together on board Halifax again,” she said.