Good News Jamaica has chronicled Commander Captain Janice Smith’s career for many years. We were present when she became Jamaica’s first female commander of a US vessel. We followed her as she became the first African-American woman to lead Military Sealift Command (MSC) Atlantic. Today, we honour the remarkable lady as she takes the helm of Military Sealift Command Atlantic as Chief of Staff.
The ceremony was held on the USNS COMFORT (T-AH 20) docked in Norfolk, Virginia. The ceremony celebrated Commodore Janice G. Smith as she is relieved of her command by Captain Daniel E. Broadhurst. Captain Broadhurst will now command the Sealift Command while Captian Smith moves on as the Chief of Staff for the Military Sealift Command headquarters in Norfolk, Va.
In explaining the importance of the role of Commander, the presiding officer over the ceremony, Rear Admiral Michael A.Wettlaufer stated the following.
“Simply unlike any other job, Command is all-encompassing. The most demanding and rewarding duty in our Naval service. The single most critical element in our organization and the ultimate vote of confidence in an officer is to lead and to lead well. Our Navy success is dependant upon the quality of those who’ve been entrusted, like Captain Smith and Captain Broadhurst with this absolute responsibility, authority, accountability inherent in command.”Rear Adm Michael A.Wettlaufer.
Captain Janice Smith’s Impact
Rear Adm. Wettlaufer also praised captain Smith for taking command of the USS Comfort at the start of the COVID-19 epidemic and springing into action straight away. Her team dispatched to New York to assist, Captain Smith and a well-coordinated staff segmented the ship to slow the spread of the virus. Because of this segmentation, the objective of being an effective medical ship was successful. Captain Smith achieved numerous ‘firsts’ while commanding the MSC. However, she humbly maintains that she is simply doing her job. ‘Firsts’ do not concern her. Her ‘job’ was to keep the fleet of ships safe in the world’s oceans. According to the anecdotes shared at the event, she maintained her fleet safely and did it with warmth and passion.
Accepting the change of command, Captian Smith proudly thanked her family and loved ones in the USA and Jamaica. She expressed that they are who made her into the lady she is today. She stated, “Today’s Change of Command ceremony marks the end of a rewarding chapter in my military career… In the face of some extremely challenging events, some of which we have never seen before, we remained resilient”. Commander Janice Smith went on to say, “Logistics is the lifeblood of the military forces, and since its inception, MSC ships played a vital and continued role in every contingency operation around the world.”
Captain Smith will serve as Chief of Staff for at least one year. She will then decide to extend her contract or retire. When we asked her what she believed was conceivable, she responded in a calm military tone. We had no clue what her decision was. The good news is that Good News Jamaica will be there for her no matter what option she takes. Jamaica will celebrate with Captain Janice Smith, an incredible ambassador nurtured by lovely hearts that adore her.