Washington: The United States Navy removed the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier Enterprise on Tuesday, citing his "profound lack of good judgment" for creating and starring in a series of coarse and sexually explicit onboard videos several years ago that were meant as entertainment for the ship's crew.
The videos were broadcast to crew members on the aircraft carrier Enterprise via closed-circuit television in 2006 and 2007.
The officer, Capt. Owen Honors, was permanently relieved of his duties some two weeks before the Enterprise, the world's first nuclear-powered carrier, is due to leave its home port in Norfolk, Va., to support combat missions in Afghanistan.
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the commander of the United States Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, said in a statement that after viewing the videos, he had lost confidence in the captain's ability to lead. Captain Honors's lack of judgment and professionalism, the admiral said, "calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command."
The videos include scenes of simulated masturbation, simulated eating of feces, a simulated rectal exam, antigay slurs and a pair of men and a pair of women showering together. They were produced by Captain Honors and shown to sailors and Marines aboard the Enterprise, which has a crew of some 6,000, in 2006 and 2007. The videos, which also include a scene that suggests an officer is engaged in sex with a donkey in his stateroom, were first disclosed by the Norfolk newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot.
Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, the chief of staff of Navy Cyber Forces and a former commander of the aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower, was permanently assigned as the commanding officer of the Enterprise. Captain Honors has been reassigned to an administrative position at Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk. The Navy said he was not available for comment.
It remains unclear why it took five years for the videos to surface and whether any of Captain Honors's superiors knew about the videos, shown weekly on closed-circuit television aboard the Enterprise. Captain Honors, who was the Enterprise's executive officer, or second in command, at the time of the videos, was supervised by the ship's commanding officer, Lawrence S. Rice, now a rear admiral.
Two other superior officers, Rear Adm. Raymond Spicer and Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway, commanded the Enterprise strike group -- made up of the combat and support vessels that accompanied the carrier -- during Captain Honors's time as executive officer. Typically the admirals would have lived on the Enterprise. Admiral Spicer recently retired; Admiral Holloway is now commander of the Second Fleet.
Admiral Harvey's statement said that the Navy was continuing an investigation into the videos, including "the actions of other senior officers who knew of the videos and the actions they took in response."
In one of the videos, the actress Glenn Close makes an appearance, the result of video taken when she visited the carrier four years ago. In a statement Tuesday, Ms. Close called the use of her image in the video "deeply offensive and insulting."
As of Tuesday afternoon, more than 11,000 people had posted comments on a Facebook page in support of Captain Honors. The vast majority of them expressed the view that the videos were morale boosters and that the news media were overreacting.