The Navy has decided to relieve Commander Owen Honors of his command of the USS Enterprise as a result of the “raunchy videos” shot as a gag when Honors was the executive officer of the carrier in 2006 and 2007. Honors, a former Top Gun pilot and captain of the ship since 2009, will remain in the Navy but will be replaced immediately in order to keep the Enterprise on schedule for its deployment this month to the Middle East in support of the war in Afghanistan. CNN reports that the Pentagon is concerned over the “command climate” on the Enterprise, as well as other ships, and will probe why none of the senior officers brought this to anyone’s attention:
“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 the film 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”.
I suspect that we’ll hear defenses of Honors relying on warrior mentality and the need to bond with the crew, but this goes far enough beyond the boundaries of taste that a “you need me on that wall” moment won’t have much impact. Besides, a claim that the rigors of war requires a burlesque show might have a bit of a credibility issue. Obviously the Navy isn’t interested in defending this; they could have easily claimed that a relief of command would have unnecessarily delayed a wartime deployment. Instead, they appear to have practically broken a leg finding a replacement for Honors.
Let’s wish the new captain the best of luck in his new command, and hope he doesn’t need to cross the Equator on his first deployment.
Update: Many of the former shipmates of Honors are rallying to his defense.