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What a train wreck: The ignominious fate of Scientology’s original flagship, the ‘Apollo’

 
Before continuing on with the history of Scientology’s current vessel, the Freewinds, Jeffrey Augustine has an interesting aside about its predecessor…

L. Ron Hubbard’s original flagship, the Apollo, met a freak ending when it was hit and destroyed by a 3,750,000 pound freight train. This is somewhat ironic when you remember Hubbard’s 1963 claim…

“I notice that we all believe that Venus has a methane atmosphere and is unlivable. I almost got run down by a freight locomotive the other day — didn’t look very uncivilized to me.” – L. Ron Hubbard, “Between Lives Implants” lecture, SHSBC #317. 23 July 1963.

Train-ship collisions are as rare as David Miscavige doing a network television news interview, which is to say that both have only happened once, according to the record. How did this bizarre collision occur? The story begins in 1975 in Daytona Beach, Florida.

When Hubbard and the Sea Org went ashore in 1975 and began surreptitiously to take over the town of Clearwater, Florida, the Apollo became a forgotten discard, a sort of second wife the Sea Org never had. The vessel was now a 39-year-old boat that guzzled expensive fuel oil. Accordingly, a seven-man skeleton crew was assigned to maintain the vessel while the Church worked to sell it and make some money. The crew dropped anchor in Nassau and would remain there for two years as only a tiny handful of prospective buyers came and went.

The Apollo was finally sold for $90,000 in 1977 to Consolidated-Andy Inc., a shipbreaking firm in Brownsville, Texas. Originally intending to dismantle the ship for scrap, Richard Jaross, Vice-President of Consolidated-Andy Inc., told the Brownsville Herald in October 1977 that the company had decided instead to turn it into a floating restaurant and locate it at the highly popular tourist town of South Padre Island.

Consolidated-Andy Inc. then changed its plans and sold the ship at auction to Zanzibar Shipping in 1978 for $188,000, doubling its investment in a one-year flip. Rechristened the Arctic Star by Zanzibar, the ship would never leave Brownsville for South Padre Island. Zanzibar Shipping would later be described in court papers as a, “Panamanian corporation with its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.” This makes no sense, but it gets more tangled as Zanzibar Shipping claimed in court papers that it did no business in the United States.

The 1982 Memorandum Decision of District Judge DeAnda tells the story and adds an incorrect detail that would surely have infuriated Commodore Hubbard:

The ship now called “ARCTIC STAR” has seen a colorful and varied career. Christened the “ROYAL SCOTSMAN” in 1936, she plied the rough seas between Belfast and Glasgow and survived. She risked German U-Boats when used as a troop ship in World War II and survived. She even had a name change (to “APOLLO”) and saw use as a spy ship for the CIA and survived. After having successfully avoided these often encountered and expected nautical dangers, it is perhaps quite ironic that she did not survive the night of September 16, 1980, when while lying at berth in the Port of Brownsville, Texas, she was rammed and constructively sunk by a railroad train.

…In addition to its unusual history, the ownership of the “ARCTIC STAR” is also far from ordinary. Although since being rechristened the “ARCTIC STAR” the ship has never left the Port of Brownsville, Texas, it is owned by Zanzibar Shipping, S. A., a Panamanian corporation with its headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The exact makeup of this corporation, created especially for ownership of the “ARCTIC STAR,” is shrouded in mystery; its stock is “bearer stock” and not even the corporate secretary, Ms. Ann Priddy, has any idea who or where its stockholders are. Despite its being headquartered in Wisconsin and having its only known asset permanently docked in Texas, Zanzibar Shipping maintains that it does no business in the United States.

The Missouri Pacific Railroad Company conceded liability for its freight locomotive jumping the tracks and slamming into the Arctic Star. The only question now was how much Zanzibar Shipping could take Missouri Pacific to the cleaners for.

Essentially, the train hit the ship so hard that “the nine-inch polypropylene stern lines securing the ship snapped from the impact. The ship’s stern was pushed out and its bow was pushed in and collided with the dock. The net effect was that the hull was twisted from the impact.” As the court noted:

Repair of a twisted hull is extremely expensive. The “ARCTIC STAR” is a riveted-hull vessel, a type of construction no longer used in shipbuilding. To determine the exact extent of the damages would require the ship to be towed to a shipyard capable of doing this type of repair work and there drydocking and completely inspecting the ship. Estimates for this repair work were uniformly high…The lowest estimate is $10,000,000.

The court discussed the various legal theories in determining damages. This was necessary as the opposing parties were light years apart in what the damages should be. The court noted this discrepancy in whimsical language:

One of Defendant’s experts, Tommy Laing, estimated the damages at $21,000, based on cost of repair; one of Plaintiff’s experts Fergus Fleming, estimated damages at $35,000,000, based on cost of replacement. This is not a shadowland, but the Twilight Zone. Even when considering value alone, the differences are staggering. A surveyor for Plaintiff, Manning Dierlam, estimated the “ARCTIC STAR”‘s market value at $2,500,000…\Defendant’s experts’ top value was $350,000.

The court next discussed the actual condition of the ship…

…the photographic evidence introduced during the trial indicates an aging and rusting ship in poor condition…The fact that the “ARCTIC STAR” could not legally sail on September 16, 1980, and the costs of re-securing her seaworthy status are important and relevant factors the Court has considered in determining her value. Because of her poor condition and lack of papers the Court further finds that on September 16, 1980, the “ARCTIC STAR” was not seaworthy.

Two other factors the Court has utilized in determining the value of the “ARCTIC STAR” are her insured value and the ship’s mortgage. Plaintiff’s claims of great value for its vessel are undercut by the fact that it did not maintain insurance on her…Zanzibar Shipping apparently negotiated a mortgage with a foreign bank for $200,000 and had received a Letter of Credit for that amount.

…After considering all of the above factors and findings of fact, the Court concludes that the value of the “ARCTIC STAR” on September 16, 1980 was $350,000. The Court finds her salvage value was $58,400, based on $40 a ton for uncut scrap and a weight of 1460 tons…Plaintiff is therefore entitled to recover from Defendant the sum of $291,600 as damages for the constructive total loss of the “ARCTIC STAR.”

An additional $13,000 was awarded for a small scow and a hatch cover the train destroyed. Costs of cleaning up 10 tons of oil that were spilled were awarded as were survey fees. Zanzibar Shipping paid $188,000 for the ship and collected $291,600 in damages, thus turning a tidy profit. The court awarded 12 percent per year in interest from the date of the loss and so Zanzibar pocketed about another $70,000 on interest.

Gulmar Inc. of Brownsville, Texas was given the contract to haul away the damaged Arctic Star and scrap it. The Apollo, the once legendary Flag Ship of Commodore L. Ron Hubbard, was disposed of quietly and without sorrow under the pitiless sun in a nondescript ship breaking yard in Brownsville, Texas.

In a peculiar postscript to this story, parts of the Apollo deemed to be of value were stored by Gulmar Inc. in 1984 only to be promptly forgotten. In 2016, Gulmar Inc. sold these items at auction. An eBay seller purchased the lot and realized he had parts of the Apollo.

The seller offered the ship’s helm for $19,995.95, but then later took it down. We contacted him, and he said that he had sold the item, but wouldn’t reveal the identity of buyer or the amount paid.

 
— Jeffrey Augustine

 
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Underground Bunker TV

The programming just keeps coming at Underground Bunker TV. We’ve posted short videos about ABCMouse, Bob Duggan, Scientology attorney Gary Soter, David Miscavige’s position in the church,what Scientology says about Jesus and Christianity, Scientology’s obsession with masturbation, and with Ideal Orgs. Today we have another short spot that brings up something we’ve covered here before. We hope these vids will draw people back here to the Bunker to seek more information. So please help us get them out into the world!

 

 
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Chris and Karen talk Scientology

Says Chris: “This week I have a sort of informal interview with former Scientologist and high-level Sea Org member Karen de la Carriere. She and I have a wide-ranging discussion about the pros and (mostly) cons of Scientology, disconnection, fair gaming and spiritual belief. Enjoy!”

 

 
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Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Marisol Nichols and the Dallas Ideal Org]

We’ve started a new project, building landing pages about two of David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, his celebrities and his ‘Ideal Orgs.’ For the next several weeks, we’ll post a couple of pages each day, and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about each of them, in order to build a record and maintain a watch as Scientology continues its inexorable decline — and yes, we finally have comments working on these new pages! Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments about all of your favorite celebrites and failing Ideal Orgs

Previously, we posted pages for celebrities Anne Archer, Beck Hansen, Catherine Bell, Chick Corea, Elisabeth Moss, Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, Giovanni Ribisi, Greta Van Susteren, Jenna Elfman, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis, Kelly Preston, Kirstie Alley, and Laura Prepon. And for the Ideal Orgs of Portland, Oregon; Sydney, Australia; San Diego, California; Denver, Colorado; Nashville, Tennessee; Perth, Australia; Tokyo, Japan; Sacramento, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Silicon Valley, California; Rome, Italy; Orlando, Florida; Moscow, Russia; and Amsterdam, Netherlands and Seattle, Washington.

Today it’s Marisol Nichols and Dallas, Texas!

 
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MEANWHILE, AT FACEBOOK…

 

 
Please join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,250 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,853 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 396 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 284 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,459 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,233 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,007 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,353 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,919 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,587 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,847 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,887 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,599 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,125 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,214 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,354 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,674 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,530 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,649 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,005 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,307 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,413 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,816 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,687 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,270 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,775 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,019 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,128 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on September 27, 2018 at 07:00

E-mail tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2017 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Undergound Bunker (2012-2017), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news

 

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