NORFOLK, Va. — The Navy permanently removed a senior officer from command of his 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 being relieved of command just now when the videos were made several years ago. They surfaced when the Virginian-Pilot newspaper reported on them.
Honors has been reassigned to an administrative role. Harvey said the Navy will look into what other officers aboard the USS Enterprise knew about the videos.
No phone listing was immediately available for Honors and he did not respond to e-mails.
The videos, from 2006 and 2007, 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.
During the weekend, the Navy at first downplayed the videos as humorous skits, then called them unacceptable and said they were being investigated.
"After personally reviewing the videos created while serving as executive officer," Harvey said Tuesday, "I have lost confidence in Capt. Honors' ability to lead effectively, and he is being held accountable for poor judgment and the inappropriate actions demonstrated in the videos that were created while he served as executive officer on Enterprise."
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 executive officer'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.
Fiercely loyal crew members stood by Honors after Tuesday's announcement. Rebecca Konshak, who said she was a hospital corpsman and viewed some of the videos, wrote in an e-mail that the Navy needs leaders who can bridge the gap between officers and enlisted personnel, and that was what Honors did.
She also said she believes the Navy should investigate who was "gunning for Captain Honors and why."
"There are too many questions that need to be answered before all of Captain Honors supporters will be satisfied with this decision," she said.
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