When Commodore Antonette Wemyss-Gorman succeeds retiring General Rocky Meade as Chief of Defense Staff in January 2022 she will become the first woman to serve in that role. According to the Office of the Prime Minister, Wemyss-Gorman, 48, will also receive a promotion to the rank of Rear Admiral with her appointment as army chief. Prior to the selection of Wemyss-Gorman, a 29-year veteran to the army, the Defense Board interviewed three senior Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) officers. She received her Commodore rank in December of 2019 and currently provides strategic guidance to the JDF to support the vision of the Chief of Defense Staff.
Wemyss-Gorman is accustomed to breaking a path for women in the military. In 2018, she became the first woman to serve as a JDF Coast Guard naval captain in the region. At the time, she was the commanding officer of the JDF Coast Guard. Joining the JDF in 1992, she completed her professional training at the Britannia Royal Naval College, HMS Dryadin, and the United States Naval War College. She earned a master’s degree with distinction in National Security and Strategic Studies from the University of the West Indies and was the first female officer to attain a Flag rank.
For 15 years, Wemyss-Gorman served on various classes of ships and sailed the Caribbean, deployed to Haiti to support JDF troops serving in Operation “UPHOLD DEMOCRACY” with the CARICOM Contingent, participated in the Tradewinds exercise in the Bahamas and the Dominica Republic, and traveled to Curacao and other islands on various military and diplomatic missions.
She was the Commanding Officer on the HMS Surry, a 42-meter Offshore Patrol Vessel, which she took on its maiden voyage from Holland to Jamaica in 2007. The ship completed a rigorous program that included finishing Readiness Inspections and a number of Sea Acceptance Trials.
During her career, Wemyss-Gorman has served in many critical onshore roles, including Unit Operations Officer, Officer Commanding Shore Base and Second in Command of the JDF Air Wing. In 2012, she created and was Commandant of the Caribbean Military Maritime Training Center (CMMTC). She developed core courses of the Center, including a flagship Bridge Watchkeeping Course for officers and the Naval Boarding Party course for enlisted personnel, which, trained over 300 persons from the JDF and from local and regional partners under her leadership. She is also credited for the modernization of training standards for the JDF CG as well as for implementing proficiency checks for the improvement of operational effectiveness and accountability. Wemyss-Gorman has represented the JDF at international meetings and has spoken on regional maritime security, transnational organized crime, and search and rescue among other topics.
Wemyss-Gorman was awarded Jamaica’s Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for her distinguished military service, the Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service, the Military Commendation Medal and the Medal of Honor for General Service for operations in the local theatre among others. She received an award for distinguished leadership from the United Nations Women Leadership Initiative (WLI) in 2015 and in 2019 was honored by the Women in the Caribbean Maritime Association for her contributions to maritime security in the region.
In her private life, Wemyss-Gorman is an avid gardener and provides charitable service to girls through the WLI. She and her husband Jonathan have a 15-year-old son, James.
Photo – Commodore Antonette Wemyss-Gorman Facebook