The U.S. Navy will temporarily relieve Capt. Owen Honors of his post pending investigation of the series of explicit videos he is said to have produced when he was second in command of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, sources tell ABC News.
Capt. Honors is under investigation for a series of raunchy videos in which he appeared from 2006 to 2007. The videos featured a series of skits that aimed to provide some humor during the long deployment at sea. At the time the videos were produced, the Enterprise was operating in support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
But the skits were clearly offensive to many people. A leaked version of one video, first reported by the Virginian-Pilot newspaper on Saturday, contained derogatory references to homosexuals and was filled with profanity. At one point in the video, Honors introduces a scene in which two female sailors pretend to wash each other in the shower by saying that "chicks in the shower" were his "favorite topic."
In another scene, male sailors dressed in drag mimic masturbation. In another, sailors simulate a rectal exam.
Calling the videos "inappropriate," a spokesman for the Navy's Fleet Force Command said in a statement that "the Navy does not endorse or condone these kinds of actions."
The debate over the videos raged on the Enterprise's Facebook page today, with many sailors and others coming to Capt. Honors' defense.
"I served on Enterprise for the last three years of my 21 year Navy Career. I would love to go to sea with a man like this that can lighten up a extremely stressful job," wrote one, Gordon Wilcox.
"We all looked forward to those videos from Honors while underway. We can not ruin a good mans career for the sake of petty political correctness," wrote another, Shaun Valentine.
"I too was on that deployment. Capt. Honors brought up our morale and provided well needed and appreciated comic relief. We were underway for long durations, supporting two theaters of war simultaneously, he brought many smiles to a worn out & tired crew. I can easily say that all of the crew, ship's company & air wing embarked, appreciated the videos," wrote Chief Petty Officer Andrew Hodyl.
USS Enterprise: Debate Over Videos Hits Facebook
Some suggested there was more to the story than the clips that were leaked to the press.
"The clips being shown on the news are out of context and edited to look vulgar," Melissa Nielson posted, calling the reporting a "witch hunt."
"Where are the inspirational messages to the crew that were aired?" she asked.
Several posters had changed their Facebook profile pictures to Captain Owens' official Navy photograph.
Wes Stooksbury, one of those who changed their photos, wrote, "To whichever 'loyal' crewmember has betrayed your captain: It's stunts like that that make me wish the days of corporal punishment were still around. You need to be keel-hauled. Shame on you for potentially destroying at least one great man's career, possibly two now that they have opened an investigation into Admiral [Larry] Rice's involvement. But, alas, you hid behind anonymity like the coward you are."
"I'm ashamed that Capt. Honors is being investigated for this BS. He did his time and served his country as I, and many others have. I am one of those who enjoyed not only his PRESENCE, but also his leadership," Justin Thomson wrote.
On ABC News' "Good Morning America" today Lt. Carey Lohrenz, a former female Navy pilot, also defended Capt. Honors, saying the video had been taken out of context.
"I think it's important to remember this is being taken, to a certain extent, out of context," Lohrenz said. "We need to proceed very cautiously when we just automatically have a really strong reaction and say, 'Hey, this guy needs to be out of there."
Not everyone on the page defended Capt. Honors' behavior.
"A laugh shouldnt come from such offensive material especially from such a high ranking officer," wrote Benjamin Daniel Jenkins, whose comment received many angry replies from Honors' supporters.
Other retired military officials disagreed with Captain Honors' videos, regardless of the context.
"I'll laugh along with South Park along with everyone else but that's not his job. He's the senior leadership on that ship, he sets the tone of what is appropriate and what is not. You can bring comedians on the ship and that is good for morale, but that's not his role on this ship," retired Marine Corps Col. Steve Ganyard, a former F-18 pilot who commanded an Air Group, told ABC News.
Some posters on the USS Enterprise's Facebook page disagreed.
"Leadership in the Military continually strives to catch the attention of young service members it is not an easy task. At times a leader may come dangerous close to the lines of what is inappropiate [sic]. I believe Capt. Honors was trying to make himself approachable by his crew as well as improving the morale on a ship," wrote Dwayne McConnell, who said he had served aboard the Enterprise during a 2001 deployment.