Washington: Navy officials said on Monday that it was unclear whether the commander of an aircraft carrier who had produced and appeared in a series of coarse and sexually explicit onboard videos several years ago would deploy with his ship, the Enterprise, when it leaves to support combat missions in Afghanistan this month.
The videos were broadcast to crew members on the aircraft carrier Enterprise via closed-circuit television in 2006 and 2007. (Watch: Crude videos aboard an aircraft carrier)
The videos, which include scenes of simulated masturbation, simulated eating of feces and two men as well as two women showering together, were made by Capt. Owen Honors and shown as entertainment to some 6,000 sailors and Marines aboard the Enterprise in 2006 and 2007. The videos, which also include slurs against gay men, were disclosed over the weekend by The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk, Va.
The Navy said Sunday that the videos were "clearly inappropriate" and that it was investigating the circumstances surrounding their production. The officials said that although the investigation might not be completed before the Enterprise headed to the Arabian Sea from its home port of Norfolk this month, Captain Honors's superiors could decide to relieve him of command while the inquiry was under way.
Captain Honors, who was the ship's executive officer and second in command when he made and starred in the videos, declined a request for comment on Monday. He was promoted to the ship's commanding officer in May.
Navy officials had no explanation for why the videos shown on the ship's closed-circuit television surfaced publicly after several years, or why no officers on the Enterprise apparently raised questions about them. The Virginian-Pilot said one crew member mailed a complaint about the videos to the Navy inspector general last week and quoted other crew members who said they were ignored when they objected to the videos at the time they were shown.
The Virginian-Pilot also quoted a female sailor who said she and a number of other women were offended by the videos, a view Captain Honors acknowledged on camera.
"Over the years, I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate materials in these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels," Captain Honors said in one video. He went on to use a derogatory term for gay men and to say, "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 going to be offended."
On Monday a leading military gay rights group denounced the captain. "Capt. Owen Honors was acting more like the president of a frat house rather than the executive officer of the U.S.S. Enterprise," Aubrey Sarvis, an Army veteran and the executive director of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, said in a statement.
The videos of the men and women showering together show no nudity; they are shot from the shoulders up in the case of the women and from the waist up in the case of the men.
Comic in-house videos are popular as morale boosters in the Navy as well as in the other branches of the armed services, but military officials said Captain Honors's efforts were an extreme case.
By Monday evening, however, more than 1,700 people, including many former Enterprise crew members, had clicked "like" at a Facebook page supporting Captain Honors. The typical comment was that the videos were not only morale boosters but also funny and that the news media were overreacting.
"Honors was a great commander and those videos were in no way offensive to anybody that I knew on that ship," wrote Ryan Mconnell, who said he was on board the Enterprise in 2006 and 2007. "I stand behind him 100 percent and I actually looked forward to his videos every week."