NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy permanently removed a senior officer from command of an aircraft carrier Tuesday because of raunchy comedy videos he made and showed to the crew several years ago.
The videos, which included anti-gay slurs and sexual innuendo, showed extremely poor judgment by Capt. Owen Honors, said the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces, Adm. John C. Harvey Jr.
“While Capt. Honors’ performance as commanding officer of USS Enterprise has been without incident, his profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer on Enterprise calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command,” Harvey said in a statement read to reporters in Norfolk on Tuesday afternoon.
Harvey did not take questions, including why Honors is just now being relieved of command when the videos were made several years ago. They surfaced when the Virginian-Pilot reported on them.
Honors has been reassigned to an administrative role. Harvey said the Navy continues to investigate the case of the videos from 2006 and 2007 and will look into what other officers aboard the USS Enterprise knew about them.
No phone listing was immediately available for Honors and he did not respond to e-mails.
The videos feature Honors using gay slurs, pantomiming masturbation and staging suggestive shower scenes. They were played on the shipwide television system during weekly movie night when Honors was executive officer, or second in command, of the Enterprise. Honors had since become commander of the ship.
Over the weekend, the Navy at first downplayed the videos as “humorous skits,” then called them “not acceptable” and said they were under investigation.
The videos’ existence was not news to Navy higher-ups. In a statement to the Virginian-Pilot on Friday, the Navy said its leadership had put a stop to videos with “inappropriate content” on the Enterprise about four years ago.
Some sailors who served on the Enterprise have taken to Facebook to defend Honors and his video skits for providing a much-needed morale boost during long deployments at sea.
They portrayed Honors as a man who genuinely cared about his sailors and helped them blow off steam with corny and occasionally outrageous videos he concocted every week during six-month tours of duty in the Middle East at the height of the Iraq War. Maintaining morale is typically part of the XO’s job.
“He was a caring professional and, yes, he has a sense of humor, but you need that on a boat,” said Misty Davis, who served on the Enterprise from 2006 to 2010. The offending video was shown in 2007, and was a compilation of previous videos he had shown, she and others said.