Capt. Owen Honors Says Superior Officers Were Unaware of Crude Skits

Capt. Owen Honors permanently loses command of USS Enterprise.

ByMartha Raddatz, Kirit Radia and Jessica Hopper
January 04, 2011, 8:02 AM

Jan. 4, 2011 — -- In a pair of newly released videos, embattled Navy Capt. Owen Honors is seen prefacing his raunchy skits by saying his superior officers were unaware of the material the sailors were about to see and "should absolutely not be held accountable in any judicial setting."

In the videos, Honors appears to acknowledge that his superiors would consider the videos objectionable. The statement also comes as experts question whether the crude skits that were shown aboard the carrier U.S.S. Enterprise could torpedo careers besides his own.

The new videos come as ABC News has learned that Honors' temporary removal as captain of the Enterprise will be made permanent because of a loss of confidence in his ability to lead. The move was made official today Admiral John C. Harvey Jr., Commander of Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

Honors is being replaced as the carrier's commander by Capt. Dee Mewbourne, who most recently commanded the carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Honors opened both videos by looking directly into the camera and saying, "As usual, the captain and the admiral, they don't know anything at all about the content of the video and the movie this evening and they should absolutely not be held accountable in any judicial setting."

Honors is under investigation for a series of raunchy videos in which he appeared from 2006 to 2007. The videos included 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. Honors was second in command of the carrier at the time.

The investigation under way by the Navy may reveal that officers senior to Honors at the time the videos were made should be reprimanded, retired Gen. Wesley Clark said on "Good Morning America" today.

"The question that comes out of something like this is why was it permitted? He wasn't the senior officer on the ship. There were people over him on the ship who permitted it and apparently there were complaints against him and he sort of bulldozed his way through it and continued to do these things," Clark said.

Top Navy officers have relieved Honors from his duties as commander of the Enterprise.

The videos are full of gay slurs, sexual innuendo, toilet humor and profanity. They were broadcast as part of the Enterprise's weekly movie night.

Honors Pokes Fun at 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

In the latest videos leaked to the Virginian-Pilot, Honors pokes fun at the' Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policy. While asking sailors what he could do to make the videos funnier, one sailor suggested that he wear a thong.

Honors responded by saying, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is going a little far there, huh shipmate?"

Sailors repeatedly tell Honors that they thought his shower video was funny. In that video, first leaked Saturday by the Virginian-Pilot, 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."

"This is just incompatible with the climate of command that we're trying to establish in the armed forces. We should be treating people with dignity and respect despite their differences," Clark said. "When you see something like this, you understand this was an attempt at humor, it's maybe an attempt to maintain morale, but it crossed the line."

A video first leaked Saturday contained derogatory references to homosexuals and was filled with profanity.

In another scene, male sailors dressed in drag mimic masturbation. In another, sailors simulate a rectal exam.

See the videos HERE and HERE.

Clark described Honors as an outstanding officer with a tremendous record of accomplishment. He said that it's very difficult for those who were offended by the videos to speak up, especially if they are at a lower rank than Honors.

"They can't speak up easily for themselves in a senior subordinate relationship and yet they do have feelings, you've got to respect that," Clark said.

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."

Navy officials are deciding whether the videos are evidence of official misconduct or grounds to keep Honors from the helm of the Enterprise for good.

"If it were a younger enlisted sailor that would be one thing, but he's a Navy captain, he is a significant figure in the United States Navy," Col. Stephen Ganyard said.

The Navy clearly spells out the behavior expected of all officers in its code of conduct, which includes such rules as "abide by an uncompromising code of integrity" and "exhibit the highest degree of moral character."

Sailors Defend Honors on Facebook

Since the videos were first revealed to the public, several sailors defended Honors on the Enterprise's Facebook page.

"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 under way. We cannot ruin a good man's 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 under way for long durations, supporting two theaters of war simultaneously, he brought many smiles to a worn out ans 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.

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.

Sailors Rally to Defend Capt. Owen Honors

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."

Not everyone on the page defended Capt. Honors' behavior.

"A laugh shouldn't 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 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.

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