US & Canada

US Navy Captain Owen Honors loses post over lewd videos

Frame grab taken from video provided to the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, showing US Navy Capt Owen Honors
Image caption Capt Honors acknowledged he had received complaints about the videos

The US Navy has relieved an aircraft carrier captain of his command over the production of lewd videos on the ship.

The videos featuring Capt Owen Honors were apparently made in 2006 and 2007. One has gay slurs, women in the shower together and simulated masturbation.

Officials said Capt Honors' actions and "profound lack of judgment" put his character and fitness to lead in doubt.

Adm John Harvey Jr has relieved Capt Honors of his command of the USS Enterprise, the Navy said.

Capt Honors' "profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer on Enterprise calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command", the Navy said in a statement.

Capt Honors has been reassigned to an administrative role, Adm Harvey told reporters on Tuesday.

The Navy will continue investigating the case to determine what other officers aboard the ship knew about the videos, Adm Harvey said.

Former Top Gun pilot Capt Honors, 49, was the carrier's executive officer - second-in-command - when the videos were made and played on the ship's television system during weekly movie nights.

The existence of the videos was reported by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper last week, but it is unclear why they have surfaced.

'Inappropriate material'

Publication of the videos comes just weeks after the US Congress and President Barack Obama did away with an uneasy compromise on gay men and women serving in the US military.

The BBC's Jonny Dymond, in Washington, says that some will have been outraged that such attitudes not only exist in the military but are tolerated at - and even broadcast by - the highest levels.

"Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels," Capt Honors says in the introduction to one video.

In one of the films, the officer introduces a scene where two female sailors pretend to bathe together, saying "chicks in the shower" is his "favourite topic".

In another scene, male sailors dressed in drag mimic masturbation. Other clips in the video show a man in drag and a mock rectal examination.

Navy Cmdr Chris Sims was quoted by the Associated Press as saying that the videos "were not acceptable then and are not acceptable in today's Navy".

Executive officers, he said, "are charged to lead by example and are held accountable for setting the proper tone and upholding the standards of honour, courage and commitment that we expect sailors to exemplify."

Several sailors who served under Capt Honors have used Facebook to defend his videos, calling them a needed morale boost during long deployments.

The sailors said Capt Honors cared for his men and helped them relax with the films, which they say he created every week during six-month tours in the Middle East during the height of the Iraq war.

"He was a caring professional and, yes, he has a sense of humour, but you need that on a boat," wrote Misty Davis, who served on board the Enterprise from 2006 to 2010.

The USS Enterprise is scheduled to deploy to the Middle East this month.

More on this story