WASHINGTON -- Videos broadcast aboard a Navy aircraft carrier showed simulated masturbation, suggestive shower scenes with multiple women and gay slurs, and what's most shocking is that all of it was produced by and starring the ship's second in command -- Capt. Owen Honors.
The Virginia-Pilot newspaper first broke the story, publishing edited versions of the lewd videos on its website. The Navy Times released two additional videos on its website Tuesday. The videos were shown on closed-circuit television during 2006 and 2007 deployments of the USS Enterprise, the Navy's oldest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.
The videos are "clearly inappropriate," said Navy spokesman Commander Chris Sims. "Production of videos, like the ones produced four to five years ago on USS Enterprise... were not acceptable then and are not acceptable in today's Navy.
But the Navy has not said whether Honors was reprimanded at the time, or whether or not he is expected to command the ship during its next deployment in the coming weeks. The Navy will only say the matter is under investigation.
Honors attended the Naval Academy and taught at the Navy's Top Gun flight school.
The videos were played repeatedly on board the ship. In one scene, Honors can be seen fishing for a chocolate candy bar in a dirty toilet right before eating it on camera. In another he appears in a towel and shower cap outside the stall where two men are seen washing each other. In the next clip, which Honors calls "Chicks in the Shower," two women are seen washing each other. No nudity is shown, although the viewer is led to believe they are naked.
Honors warns the viewers the material is offensive. "Over the years I've gotten complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly through other channels," Honors says in the introduction to one video. After using a derogatory slur for gays he calls out the "bleeding heart" critics, telling them to "go ahead and hug yourself for the next 20 minutes or so, because there's really a good chance you're gonna be offended."
But not everyone agrees Honors is in the wrong. Already 1,450 people have joined the "Support Captain Owen Honors" Facebook page. Commenters say the public is overreacting. Ryan Mconnell, a fan on Facebook, says he was on the Enterprise in '06 and '07. "Honors was a great man and those videos were in no way offensive to anybody that I knew on that ship. I stand behind him 100% and I actually looked forward to his videos every week."
Dale Dunhum writes on the support page: "All these videos had a bit of humor in them and were mostly aimed at current ship topics like water rations, safety, [and] morale."
Mike Diaz said, "All of us who were on the ship during the '07 deployment remember Saturday's for Pizza, Wings and XO Movie Night with a HILARIOUS skit done by the XO and the crew. All of it was in good fun and gave us something to look forward to on Saturday nights while on deployment."
Ward Carroll, editor of Military.com, says investigating officials aren’t likely to share that same sense of humor. Aside from the fact the Honors is likely to lose his job, “the only other thing to look at is what’s going to happen to the others who were above him in chain of command at that time,” Carroll said. "You had the CO (Commanding Officer) of the ship and at least two admirals who were riding the ship as the battle commander at that time. If they didn’t know about videos they were negligent."
It was a bad year for commanding officers in 2010. The Navy Times reported that 17 COs were fired last year for conduct unbecoming of an officer -- the second highest number of firings in a decade.
Meanwhile the Enterprise is scheduled to deploy before the end of this month. At this point Capt. Honors is still the commanding officer.