"The behavior exhibited during these 'XO Movie Night' videos violates long-standing norms of exemplary conduct required of all naval officers by public law and U.S. Navy regulations" said Adm. John C. Harvey, who heads U.S. Fleet Forces Command, referring to the videos produced by Capt. Owen Honors, the executive officer of the USS Enterprise from 2006 to 2007.
Harvey announced that letters of censure were handed out to Honors and his successor as executive officer, Capt. John Dixon, along with two admirals who were in command of the carrier at the time.
The letters are seen as career-enders in the military because they likely prevent further promotion.
Honors and Dixon were supposed to be primarily responsible for maintaining order and discipline aboard the ship, Harvey said, but were, themselves, "the source of the problem."
Two other admirals who were the carrier strike group commanders at the time of the videos also received non-punitive letters of caution. They are retired Rear Adm. Raymond Spicer and Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway of the Second Fleet.
Harvey added that he counseled two other admirals who served as the wing commander and destroyer squadron commander during the Enterprise's deployments at the time of the videos.
An additional 32 lower-ranking officers and sailors aboard the Enterprise also received non-punitive letters of caution.
"Navy leaders are not popular entertainers," said Harvey, "but professionals vested with extraordinary military authority who must be held to a higher standard and maintain their credibility in the eyes of their subordinates under the most difficult, even possibly life-threatening, circumstances."
Of those who have "characterized the videos as harmless attempts to raise crew morale during a period of demanding operations," he added, "I cannot disagree more strongly!"
Honors was highly regarded as the ship's second in command during his tour as executive officer in 2006 and 2007.
In addition to his regular duties, Honors became intimately involved in the production of the videos that introduced the movies that were shown ship-wide during the weekly "XO Movie Night."
Popular with the ship's crew, the "XO Movie Night" videos contained skits that made light of life aboard the ship through crude humor, sexist references and gay slurs.
The videos that Honors produced might never have come to light had copies not been mailed anonymously in January to Norfolk's Virginian Pilot newspaper. Norfolk is the USS Enterprise's home port.
The Pilot posted the videos on its website and they were picked up by national news outlets. Within days, Harvey had relieved Honors as captain of the carrier after a review of the video's content and Honors' role in producing them.
In relieving him of command in January, Harvey said Honors exhibited a "profound lack of good judgment and professionalism while previously serving as executive officer on Enterprise [that] calls into question his character and completely undermines his credibility to continue to serve effectively in command."
Honors maintained that his senior leaders were aware of the videos and had approved of their content. The prospect of disciplinary action against the admirals was raised when Harvey broadened the investigation to look at whether Honors' superiors were aware of the videos and their content.
Rear Adm. Larry Rice, one of the ship's captains when the videos were made, put in paperwork for retirement in February, but that process was placed on hold pending the results of the investigation.
The change in command of the USS Enterprise prompted by Honors' departure took place just weeks before the ship was to embark on a deployment to the Middle East. Since then, the carrier has played a role the response to the kidnapping of four Americans by Somali pirates and has been mentioned as a potential player in enforcing a possible no-fly zone over Libya.