Perhaps Captain Owen Honors imagined he was in outer space. The commander of the USS Enterprise – not the Star Trek starship but a nuclear-powered American warship – boldly went where no sensible American navy officer would venture in the 21st century with a series of video "entertainments" for his crew that included insulting gay people, appearing with two women in the shower and plenty of simulated masturbation.
Now Honors has been dismissed as captain after one of the crew complained and the navy branded the videos, shown on the Enterprise in 2006 and 2007, "not acceptable".
Honors was the second in command of the aircraft carrier when he made the films which were shown on the ship's internal video system for all the crew to see.
One of the videos opens with an unmistakable declaration of intent: "This evening, all you bleeding hearts and you fags ... why don't you just go ahead and hug yourselves for the next 20 minutes or so because there's a really good chance you're going to be offended tonight".
There follows what are described as a series of "racey topics" – from a definition of the expletive "fuck" to plenty of simulated masturbation– including one in which Honors is seen in a dressing gown, glass of champagne in one hand and a cigar in the other.
The allegedly anti-gay theme continues with scenes of two men in a shower, one of them rubbing gel into the other's chest as they are hunted down by Honors, followed by what he describes as "one that's landed me the most complaints" – two women in the shower shown from the shoulders up.
In one of the later videos, Honors acknowledges that everyone is not happy. "Over the years I've gotten several complaints about inappropriate material during these videos, never to me personally but, gutlessly, through other channels," he said. This did not deter him. After investigating Honors, who was promoted to captain of his ship in May, the Penatagon has reassigned him to administrative duties.
A pressure group that campaigns on behalf of gay members of the military said that Honors was "acting like a 19-year-old fraternity boy". But some of Honors crew have rallied to his support with a Facebook page. A former petty officer, Phillip Ciesla, who served on the Enterprise under Honors, said he should not be stripped of his command. "He didn't do it out of malice or cruelty. He did it to entertain his crew and boost our morale," he told CBS. "They were meant for the crew only. For our … lighthearted laughter. None of it was meant to be taken seriously."