Navy Investigates Lewd Videos Made On Carrier

The Navy is investigating the commander of the USS Enterprise after Capt. Owen Honors apparently made sexually suggestive videos while serving as a senior officer onboard the ship several years ago. The Enterprise was deployed overseas at the time, and Honors was serving as the ship's executive officer. The videos mock gays and include skits that are lewd.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

Senior Navy officers in Norfolk, Virginia, are investigating a raunchy, homemade video made several years ago. It includes gay slurs and sexually suggestive scenes. The video was shown to thousands of sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, and it stars a Navy captain who is now the ship's commanding officer.

NPR's Tom Bowman has our report. But first, a warning: The story includes material that some listeners may find offensive.

TOM BOWMAN: The video opens with three officers seated in a ward room aboard the Enterprise. In the middle is the executive officer, the XO, the number two officer on the ship, Captain Owen Honors. It appears, through careful editing, that Honors is also portraying the two men beside him, though Navy officials arent sure. One is dressed as an aviator, wearing sunglasses. The aviator insults a third man, a SWO - which stands for surface warfare officer.

(Soundbite of video)

Captain OWEN HONORS (USS Enterprise): This evening, all of you bleeding hearts - and you, fag SWO boy - why don't you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so because there is a really good chance you're going to be offended tonight.

BOWMAN: Seated between them was the executive officer, the XO, the number two officer on the ship, Captain Owen Honors. The videos were shot in 2006 and 2007. Just last May, Honors took command of the Enterprise. In the video, Honors introduces another segment, called "Chicks in the Shower."

Capt. HONORS: This is certainly the most popular video of any of the XO movie videos. It's also the one that's landed me with the most complaints. This evening, we've got some different chicks in the shower, in a clip that was previously too sensitive to show. However, we have protected their identities.

(Soundbite of music)

BOWMAN: Captain Honors is then shown padding around the ship in bathrobe and shower cap. He pokes his head into showers, and finds two men pretending to wash each other. In another shower, two women. He shakes his head. At the time, the ship was deployed to the Middle East.

Honors is a 1983 Naval Academy graduate who flew F-14 warplanes on 85 combat missions, including some in Afghanistan. Now, he's at the center of an investigation just as the Enterprise is set to leave on another six-month deployment to the Middle East.

Commander Chris Sims, a spokesman for Honors' higher command in Norfolk, said in a statement that the videos are clearly inappropriate, and an investigation has begun. The videos were obtained by the Norfolk Virginian Pilot newspaper, which reported there were complaints on board the ship at the time.

Derek Vander Schaaf, a former Pentagon inspector general, says the fact that the videos were shown over a two-year period is especially troubling.

Mr. DEREK VANDER SCHAAF (Former Pentagon Inspector General): Now, incidents like that can happen; that's to be expected. But the fact that it didn't get clamped down on, that they continued to show the carrier-made film - question is, why did this go on, time after time?

BOWMAN: Vander Schaaf was a top investigator for the Tailhook scandal. That was a 1991 Navy aviator convention that devolved into drunken debauchery. Dozens of fighter pilots were accused of sexually assaulting women. Some were formally disciplined. Vander Schaaf says the Enterprise videos are not as bad as a Tailhook scandal. But he wonders if any lessons were learned from that time.

Mr. VANDER SCHAAF: It is rather surprising that there's officers involved, and they are aviation officers who should have realized, you know, what happened during the Tailhook thing, and here they are - rather improper behavior.

BOWMAN: Some current and former Navy officers say key questions for investigators include whether any of Captain Honors' superiors were aware of the tapes or the complaints. And if so, what did they do about it?

Tom Bowman, NPR News, Washington.

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