Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Wesley Chapel High grad Misty Webster tapped for elite submarine duty

Misty Webster, 21, a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman, trained aboard the USS San Juan.

Special to the Times

Misty Webster, 21, a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman, trained aboard the USS San Juan.

Misty Webster appreciates her good timing, "but the Navy was going to do this sooner or later," she says. "The stars aligned for me."

Her dad, Michael Webster, offers a more colorful description:

"It's like they're trotting out the Mercury 7 astronauts."

Misty, a 2006 graduate of Wesley Chapel High School, is about to make history as the Navy abandons one of the final barriers to female officers: serving aboard a submarine. She is one of only 11 female midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy selected for the elite duty once she earns her commission on May 28.

The Navy, which first welcomed women to serve on surface ships in 1993, had balked at opening up opportunities on submarines because of the tight quarters and privacy issues. But the fleet now includes the new, larger Trident guided missile subs.

More to the point, Navy leaders argued, the strength of all military forces depends on recruiting the best available minds — period.

Which brings us back to Misty Webster. She ranked sixth in her large high school class with a 4.3 grade-point average. She demonstrated unique balance — a math whiz, member of the National Honor Society and a standout athlete on the swim, basketball and track teams.

And she knew from the time she was in the seventh grade that she wanted to be a military officer.

"My dad took me to visit the Air Force Academy, and I was so impressed," she recalled on Wednesday during a telephone interview. "My interest just got stronger from there."

At the beginning of her senior year at Wesley Chapel, Misty received an invitation to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. She chose the Navy after visiting Annapolis.

"There were so many options — flight, Marines," she said, "and I was really impressed with the professionalism and the overall culture. I have to say, I have absolutely loved every minute here."

As she began her third year at the academy, Misty trained for a month, including a week aboard the USS San Juan submarine in Kings Bay, Ga.

"I just felt like I really fit in, more than in other communities I had experienced," she said. "It was very technically based, and such an important mission for the Navy."

At the time, there were rumblings that the Navy would end the gender restrictions, but Misty had no idea she might one day be selected to join a submarine crew.

"I feel blessed," she said.

About 1,000 senior midshipmen — called "Firsties" — will become ensigns on May 28. Misty, 21, will leave behind the campus where she enjoyed being on the rock-climbing and rowing teams, and presiding over the Astronomy Club. She will head to Charleston, S.C., for training and then wait for an assignment on a sub based either in Georgia or Washington state.

Some critics of the integration of subs (limited for the time being to officers who make up only 10 percent of a crew) worry about privacy issues and possible sexual harassment or encounters as the vessels head out for months at sea. Misty doesn't.

"I've come to expect a high degree of professionalism," she said. "People will do their jobs. Yes, officers will share the same bathroom. We'll just have to remember to flip over the sign. It's really no big deal. I'm used to being on a campus with 80 percent men."

Her service will fit into family history. Michael, now a truck driver, spent 10 years in the Army and was stationed in Fort Polk, La., when Misty was born there at the base hospital. And his father, Marshall Webster, spent 20 years in the Navy.

"He'd be so proud of his granddaughter," Michael said. "That's for sure."

Bill Stevens can be reached at (727) 869-6250 or at

Wesley Chapel High grad Misty Webster tapped for elite submarine duty 05/08/10 [Last modified: Saturday, May 8, 2010 12:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. New Florida drivers licenses, ID cards coming in August

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE – A new look is coming to Florida licenses and ID cards.

    Starting in August, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will begin to issue the new Florida driver license and ID card. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]
  2. 21 fun places to escape the heat and chill indoors in Tampa Bay


    A simple walk down the street this summer can feel like it takes years. With the humidity and the Florida sun blazing, no amount of time feels like enough to cool off in summer. To help you regulate, our critics and writers came up with a few places that encourage lingering for just ... a few ... more ... …

  3. Alligator bites man several times at Florida retention pond (w/video)


    PORT CHARLOTTE — A homeless man was injured after he was bitten several times by a 9-foot alligator at a retention pond Monday morning, authorities said.

  4. Florida Gators' 2018 recruiting class cracks top 10


    While I was out on vacation, the Florida Gators apparently picked up their recruiting.

    By a lot.

  5. Trigaux: Florida's jobless rate looks great — but 25 other state rates look even better

    Economic Development

    No debate here: Florida's unemployment rate continues to drop — even as more people move to Florida and enter the workforce. What's not to like?

    Who remembers the remarkable lines of hundreds of people looking for construction work in Tampa back in March of 2010 at a job fair at the Encore construction site near downtown Tampa? Now the construction industry is struggling to find skilled workers to meet building demand. [