The Secretary of the Navy issued censure letters Friday to four high-ranking officers over a series of raunchy videos shown to thousands of sailors aboard the USS Enterprise, including the captain who produced and starred in many of them.
A letter of censure does not end a military officer's career, but it makes it unlikely that the officer will be promoted. Generally in the U.S. military, those who don't have potential to move up in the ranks aren't encouraged to stay in.
Capt. Owen P. Honors Jr. 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 on deployments between October 2005 and December 2007.
The Navy's investigation found that Honors had produced at least 25 videos with inappropriate scenes, including anti-gay slurs, sailors of both genders shown in shower scenes and vulgar language. In one of the videos, Honors acknowledged he had received complaints about "XO Movie Night," but didn't stop the videos.
"You were entrusted to lead the crew of the Enterprise, which includes holding yourself out as an example,'"Navy Secretary Ray Mabus wrote in his letter to Honors. "You knew your behavior would likely offend, and you were aware of concerns and complaints, yet the offensive content of your videos only increased."
Other videos made references to prostitution in foreign ports, eating excrement and drinking urine, and simulated rectal exams.
Honors was relieved of command this January shortly before a planned deployment after Navy leaders learned about the videos from media reports.
Rear Adms. Ron Horton and Larry Rice, both former commanders of the Enterprise, and Honors' successor on the Enterprise, Capt. John Dixon, received the other censure letters. After the Navy's investigation into the videos was made public, Horton was relieved of his command of the 7th Fleet's logistics unit based in Singapore.
Mabus wrote that at least 14 inappropriate videos aired on Rice's watch, while another dozen inappropriate videos aired on Horton's watch.
Mabus chided the men in his letters to them for not showing the vigilance and attention expected of a commanding officer, specifically censuring them for a failure of leadership and oversight
Dixon, who had three videos the Navy deemed inappropriate air on his watch, was censured for violating expected standards of personal and professional behavior.
Honors's civilian attorney, Chales Gittins, did not immediately return a message Friday. Listings were not immediately available for the others who were censured. If they choose to do so, the men have 15 days to write a rebuttal to be included in their official record.