NORFOLK, Va. — The USS Enterprise deployed yesterday without its former commander as the Navy investigates bawdy, sexually themed videos he showed to thousands of crew members, keeping him behind a desk and off the bridge of the storied aircraft carrier.
Crew members lined the rail of the nation’s oldest carrier as family members bundled against temperatures in the 20s in a parking lot to wave goodbye. As the ship’s horn sounded, a tugboat nudged it away from Pier 12 at Naval Station Norfolk.
The Enterprise sailed into Chesapeake Bay without Captain Owen Honors, 49, who was reassigned to an administrative job on the base nine days ago on the eve of his first command of an aircraft carrier. He was permanently relieved by the commander of US Fleet Forces for a “profound lack of good judgment and professionalism’’ while he was the executive officer on the Enterprise.
The Navy is investigating his shipboard broadcast in 2006 and 2007 of videos that included gay slurs, sailors in suggestive shower scenes, and simulated masturbation. The investigation also is looking into whether other senior officers were aware of the videos, and if Honors was reprimanded at the time.
Honors has not responded to several e-mails from the Associated Press. Attempts to reach him by phone have been unsuccessful, and no one answered the door at his home.
Captain Dee L. Mewbourne, the Enterprise’s new commander, said yesterday that the crew is ready to deploy despite Honors’ abrupt removal. He spoke to reporters less than two hours before the nuclear-powered Enterprise departed to support troops in Afghanistan.