By BROCK VERGAKIS
NORFOLK, Va. – The former skipper of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier who frequently used homophobic language and produced raunchy videos aboard the USS Enterprise began his defense on Tuesday as to why he should remain in the Navy by submitting a thick binder full of supportive comments to an administrative board.
Capt. Owen P. Honors Jr. is one of a series of commanding officers the Navy has removed from the job this year for conduct problems, but his case has easily drawn the most public attention.
Honors was relieved of command in January shortly before a scheduled deployment after media reports about the videos, which included simulated shower scenes, anti-gay slurs and references to prostitution in foreign ports.
Honors contends the videos were made to improve morale while teaching important shipboard lessons. He was the aircraft carrier’s No. 2 officer when he helped produce and appeared in the series of videos that aired on the ship’s closed-circuit TV station between October 2005 and December 2007.
The Navy has acknowledged the videos were wildly popular with most of the crew, but officials said Honors created inappropriate content on numerous occasions. In one of the videos, Honors acknowledged he had received complaints about “XO Movie Night,” but didn’t stop the videos.
A Navy investigation found that Honors had produced at least 25 videos with inappropriate scenes and vulgar language.
Honors’ fate now largely rests with three rear admirals who comprise a board of inquiry. They will recommend to Navy Secretary Ray Mabus whether Honors should be removed from the Navy, and if so, at what pay grade he should be retired. Among the documents Honors’ counsel submitted was a spreadsheet showing what his retirement pay would be at different classifications.
They also submitted accolades he had received while commanding officer of the Enterprise, screen shots of Facebook posts from supporters and character witness statements from family and friends, some of whom are expected to testify. The board will review those comments and the investigative report over the next two weeks. In total, they will review about 1,500 pages of documents and more than 60 videos.
Among other things, the board is set to determine whether Honors committed conduct unbecoming a naval officer and whether he failed to demonstrate acceptable qualities of leadership for an officer of his grade.
Verbal arguments are scheduled to begin Aug. 23.
Honors’ website: http://captowenhonors.com
USS Enterprise videos and investigation: http://usfleetforcesfoia.info/enterprise_investigation.htm