US Navy to investigate lewd videos aboard USS Enterprise
The raunchy comedy videos have raised question marks over the work culture in the US Navy.
Norfolk: Raunchy comedy videos made by a high-ranking Navy commander and shown to the crew of an aircraft carrier three or four years ago have suddenly proved an embarrassment to the Pentagon that could blight the officer`s career.
The videos, released Sunday by a newspaper in this Navy port city, feature Capt. Owen Honors using gay slurs, pantomiming masturbation and staging suggestive shower scenes. They were played on the ship-wide television system during weekly movie night when Honors was executive officer, or second in command, of the USS Enterprise. Honors has since become commander of the ship and several of those under his command are defending him.
Over the weekend, the Navy at first downplayed the videos as "humorous skits," then called them "not acceptable" and said they are under investigation.
Asked if Honors` command of the Enterprise was at risk, Cmdr. Chris Sims of U.S. Fleet Forces Command told The Associated Press in an e-mail: "The investigation currently being conducted will provide the necessary information to make that decision in an informed manner."
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.
"They were probably hoping it would all go away, and it didn`t and now they have to say something," said Michael Corgan, a career Navy officer who now teaches at Boston University.
Corgan said Honors was guilty not only of an error in judgment but of failing to recognize a changing Navy culture. "Standards shift, of course, and trimming your sails is something you have to do if you`re going to command people in the Navy," Corgan said. "This guy showed poor judgment."
The military has undergone a cultural shift in recent decades away from the loutish, frat-boy behaviour that was exposed by the Tailhook scandal in 1991. It is now working to accommodate gays in its ranks with Congress` repeal of "don`t ask, don`t tell." Also, the Navy is opening its all-male submarine force to women this year.
Corgan said the repeal of don`t ask, don`t tell probably had nothing to do with the furor now: "What he did would have been dumb 30, 40 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 Honours 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 humour, 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.
"It`s no worse than anything you`d see on `Saturday Night Live` or `The Family Guy,`" Davis said Monday. "I used to watch all of them. They were freaking hilarious."
Several more who say they served under Honours called the AP Monday, expressing their support of him.
The Enterprise is in port in Norfolk and is awaiting deployment.
The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk first reported on the videos on Saturday and posted a version Sunday on its website, minus offensive language, with the faces of some sailors blurred. It was unclear why the videos are just now surfacing.
The Pilot quoted unidentified crew members as saying they raised concerns aboard the ship about the videos when they aired but were brushed off.