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Navy to probe lewd videos shown to carrier crew

Jan. 2, 2011 - 12:46PM   |   Last Updated: Jan. 2, 2011 - 12:46PM  |  
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In this frame grab taken from video provided to The Virginian-Pilot, Navy Capt. Owen Honors appears in one of a series of profanity-laced comedy sketches that were broadcast on the aircraft carrier Enterprise via closed-circuit television. (The Associated Press)

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Navy Capt. Owen Honors (Navy via AP)

NORFOLK, Va. — Videos just coming to light show the crew of a Navy aircraft carrier got an eyeful on shipboard TV: Gay slurs, suggestive shower scenes and mimicked masturbation in clips made not by some sailor run amok but by the ship's second-most powerful officer.

The Navy said Sunday it will investigate the "clearly inappropriate" videos shown through the nuclear-powered ship Enterprise's closed-circuit television system as part of an onboard movie night. The star of the videos, made in 2006 and 2007, is Capt. Owen Honors, who now commands Enterprise and was its executive officer when the videos were made.

Norfolk-based Enterprise was deployed in the Middle East at the time the videos were made and is weeks from deploying again.

The Virginian-Pilot reported on the videos in its Sunday editions and posted an edited version of one video on its website.

It's not immediately known why the images are surfacing now. The Virginian-Pilot quoted anonymous crew members who said they raised concerns aboard the ship about the videos when they aired, but they were brushed off.

But a former crew member who says she saw the videos while serving praised Honors as "the best the Navy has to offer" and said the skits were welcome entertainment onboard.

"It's no worse then anything you'd see on Saturday Night Live or the Family Guy," said Houston native Misty Davis, who worked on the Enterprise's weapons systems during 2006.

It's clear from the videos that Honors, who took over the ship's command in May, had already gotten complaints when some of them were made. "Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels," he said in the introduction to the video posted by the newspaper.

He goes on to use a derogatory term for gays and tells his critics: "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."

Next comes a sequence of what appear to be outtakes in which Honors and others curse, followed by clips in which he and others are shown making hand motions that mimic masturbation.

Honors segues to the next segment by saying, "Finally let's get to my favorite topic ... chicks in the shower." Next are shown clips of pairs of women and a pair of men pretending to shower together. No nudity is shown, but the men's and women's bare shoulders imply they are nude.

Other clips in the video show a man in drag and a mock rectal examination.

Cmdr. Chris Sims said in a statement sent to The Associated Press that the videos "were not acceptable then and are not acceptable in today's Navy."

Executive officers and other leaders "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.

Sims said U.S. Fleet Forces Command "has initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the production of these videos."

In a statement to The Virginian-Pilot on Friday, the Navy said it had put a stop to videos with "inappropriate content" aboard Enterprise several years ago.

"It is unfortunate that copies of these videos remained accessible to crewmembers, especially after leadership took action approximately four years ago to ensure any future videos reflected the proper tone," the Navy said.

It also said the videos "were intended to be humorous skits focusing the crew's attention on specific issues such as port visits, traffic safety, water conservation, ship cleanliness, etc."

A phone listing for Honors was not immediately available. He is a 1983 alumnus of the Naval Academy and was a naval aviator before holding command. He attended the U.S. Naval Fighter Weapons School.

The Virginian-Pilot reported that the videos were made during Enterprise's two six-month deployments to the Middle East in 2006 and 2007.

Commissioned in 1961, Enterprise is the world's first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. It is scheduled to sail two more deployments before it is decommissioned in 2013. It can carry a crew of more than 5,800.

The commanding officer of the Enterprise at the time the videos were made, Lawrence Rice, was later promoted to the rank of the rear admiral and had been assigned to the Norfolk-based U.S. Joint Forces Command but is no longer there, a spokeswoman said.

The video posted by the newspaper included clips of past "movies" Honors had made — including several statements in which he holds his higher-ups blameless for the material.

"As usual, the admiral and the captain have no idea about the contents of the video or movie this evening, and they should not be held accountable in any judicial setting," Honors says.

———

Steve Szkotak reported from Richmond, Va.

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