WASHINGTON—The Navy will likely remove the commander of the USS Enterprise from his post after bawdy videos in which he denigrated gays and made other vulgar references became public, a defense official said.

The Navy announced it was investigating Capt. Owen Honors, the Enterprise commander, after a newspaper published excerpts of videos he recorded in 2006 and 2007. In the videos, which were broadcast over the ship's television system, he simulates masturbation, jokes about women taking showers and uses offensive terms for gays.

Commander Chris Sims, a spokesman for Navy Fleet Forces, said "no decision has been made" on whether to discipline Capt. Honors or temporarily relieve him of duty. But the defense official said it was all but final that Capt. Honors would be relieved of command as early as Tuesday, and that the Navy will continue its investigation of the videos.

After viewing the videos on Sunday and Monday, top Navy officials quickly lost confidence in Capt. Honors, officials said. The Navy has a tradition of acting quickly to remove commanders after a mishap or after top officials lose confidence in the officer.

The quick action also demonstrates that the military is under pressure to show that will not tolerate slurs against the sexual orientation service members after last month's congressional repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that barred gays from serving openly in the military. The ban on gay service members will end after top Defense Department officials certify it can be lifted without harming military readiness.

Capt. Honors was the executive officer, the second in command, of the USS Enterprise when he took a starring role in the videos, which were shown on the ship's closed-circuit television system during deployments. In May, he was named the commander of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is due to deploy again in the coming weeks.

In one video, Capt. Honors uses a derogatory term for gays and jokingly acknowledges the skits are likely to offend some sailors. "This evening, all of you bleeding hearts … why don't you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's a really good chance you're gonna be offended," he said.

Producing skits and follies while a ship is on a deployment are part of a Navy tradition. Coarse language is not uncommon in such productions, which are made, after all, by sailors, a group known for salty verbiage. While some such skits may be of questionable taste, the productions are usually meant for small groups and are not recorded or broadcast across an entire ship.

Showing the videos over the ship's television system, where it would be seen by everyone aboard the vessel, including religious chaplains, showed extremely poor judgment, officials said. More importantly, the officials said the offensive language and simulated masturbation in Capt. Honors's videos was clearly unacceptable in the modern Navy, even if it had been shown in a private setting.

The videos were first disclosed by the Virginian-Pilot, which reported that Capt. Honors showed videos on a weekly basis to entertain crew members. The decision to relieve Capt. Honors of command was first reported by NBC News Monday.

It is not clear whether the investigation of the videos by the Navy's Fleet Forces command will delay the Enterprise's departure.

The Navy has referred all inquiries about the matter to Commander Sims, the Navy spokesman. In a statement he said the videos are "clearly inappropriate."

"Those in command … are charged to lead by example and are held accountable for setting the proper tone and upholding the standards of honor, courage and commitment that we expect sailors to exemplify," he said.

Comments

  1. One of the things that you lose when you join the military is the right to be offended, along with the right to privacy and the right to speak your mind. Leave ’em at the door. Discipline dictates that. I never served time on a US Navy ship that had women onbaord, but I did spend a year and a half at sea as part of BLT 1/8. Life at sea is so entirely different from anything a civilian can understand, yet they feel that they can interject their standards on the military. This is the can of worms opened by the repeal on DADT. Otherwise, why is this coming to light now? I have seen videos made by a ships crew. Did they, in retrospect, contain things that may be deemed untasteful? Yep. But they served a purpose. To explain how things work onboard. That is all. And if they made you laugh a little, than great. I saw video on the news last night from various Shell Back initiations. I’m sure that folks that had no idea what was going on, were thinking, Huh? But that is part of life at sea. Just one of the traditions that have served a purpose, that will now fall by the wayside because someone may be “offended”. I am honored to have been a part of those traditions, they made me the person I am today. I am sorry to see that they will be taken away, sorry for the men and women that will serve in the future. They will not have the chance to experience them. Another sad day for our country. Semper Fi.

  2. As a follow up – an investigation will continue on all aspects of the videos’ production, including the actions of other senior officers who knew of the videos and the actions they took in response.
    -The Cdr was relieved.

  3. Was anyone FORCED to participate in these productions?
    Was anyone FORCED to watch?
    I believe this is just ANOTHER diversion meant to distract the American people at a time of multiple crises in our nation.
    Most people would be quite offended at what passes for humor among various groups in high-stress jobs: ER docs, nurses, EMT’s, firefighters, LEO’s, morticians, Marines! Those not not in the group don’t “get” the jokes. And are not intended to!

  4. “You got to love them and as I watch them in action I continue to wonder where we get such fine young warriors!” -Major Pain-
    I wonder the same thing everyday. They keep me motivated. I figure if they can do what they do what I have to do is no big thing.

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