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Scientology’s cruise ship the Freewinds: Why OT 8 needed to be delivered off-shore

 
Jeffrey Augustine continues his look into the history of Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds…

As covered in our previous article, the Church of Scientology proclaimed the imminent release of the highest auditing level on the Bridge, OT 8, in 1971. “Imminent,” however, turned out to be another 14 years of waiting before it was L. Ron Hubbard announced the release of the level in Ron’s Journal 39. Hubbard declared that OT 8 was his 1985 New Year’s Gift to Scientologists…

On OT 8, Scientologists would finally discover the primary reason for amnesia on the Whole Track — why they had forgotten most of what they had experienced in their trillions of years of previous existence. Such a huge technological advance would need a special location to deliver, and a new Advanced Org dedicated solely to OT 8. An elite team of Sea Org auditors would need to be selected and trained.

But why a ship for OT 8? We see three reasons. First, the Church was purchasing real estate in Downtown Clearwater at a pace that made the locals tense about Scientology’s plans for their tranquil seaside community. Those tensions were becoming open hostility by 1985. Second, Scientology did not have IRS tax exemption in 1985. Third, Scientology was still smarting after the FBI’s massive 1977 raid and the subsequent prosecution of eleven church officials.

Hubbard was in hiding, and he had a series of backup ranches in case he needed to flee his hiding place in Creston, California. Having a ship based outside of US jurisdiction offered the Church its own backup location. The IAS was already headquartered in Curacao and it made sense to designate Curacao the home port of the new ship. Essentially, the new ship would serve as an IAS office and fundraising center. Scientologists who visited the ship would be squeezed for IAS donations.

The undertaking to find, purchase, staff, and renovate a suitable ship was called the Ship Project, with the IAS fundraising from 1985 to 1988 to pay for the initial costs. In 1986, the Ship Project was taken over by the Flag Ship Trust. A most curious entity, the Flag Ship Trust had no jurisdiction and could only be contacted in care of Whitman & Ransom in London:

The Flag Ship Trust purchased the Bohème in September 1986. However, the way in which Scientology purchased and took ownership of the vessel was dodgy. For example, the Church of Scientology told the IRS in 1992 that the Freewinds had a mortgage on it:

[The] “Freewinds” cruise vessel: this asset has a net book value (cost less depreciation} of $15,295,000 and is subject to a mortgage of $12,500,000 held by Trust for Scientologists. The net equity in the vessel is thus $2,795,000. The vessel is owned by San Donato Properties Corporation and is chartered to Majestic Cruise Lines Inc. Its home port is Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles, and it sails primarily in the Caribbean.

San Donato Properties Corporation is a Panamanian Corporation and a subsidiary of Transcorp Services S.A. In turn, Transcorp Services S.A is owned by the Flag Ship Trust. Thus, it appears that the Flag Ship Trust conveyed ownership of the Freewinds to San Donato Properties Corporation in such a way that resulted in a $12,500,000 mortgage on the ship. This was simply moving a Scientology asset from one pocket to another in order to create a mortgage and a new owner. All of these offshore machinations created legal barriers behind which Scientology was shielded.

The new Advanced Organization created to manage and deliver OT 8 was named the Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO). One of the initial goals of the Ship Project was to find Sea Org members who were professionally qualified to serve in key FSSO positions aboard the new ship. On the Apollo, which was classed as a private yacht, Commodore Hubbard could appoint a person Captain based solely upon their past life experiences of having captained ships. However, David Miscavige and the FSSO had a different situation. The Freewinds is classed as a cruise ship and had to meet the standards of maritime law for cruise ships. Miscavige had to find a professional Captain, navigators, electricians, deck hands, mechanics, chefs, and trained engineers for the engine room. The crew of the Freewinds had to be Sea Org as well because the FSSO is a Sea Org Org. Mike Napier was a public Scientologist who had captained ships and had masters papers. He was recruited into the Sea Org as were other qualified people. The crew of the Freewinds constitutes the FSSO. The ship itself serves as the FSSO Base.

The FSSO can also be called the CSFSSO (Church of Scientology the Flag Ship Service Organization). In its 1992 IRS application for tax exemption, Scientology made it abundantly clear to the IRS that both the Flag Ship Trust and the CSFSSO keep and bank all of their money outside of the US.

The Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service organization (CSFSSO) was incorporated in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles as a non-profit foundation in April 1988. It commenced activities on 1 May 1988, shortly before the maiden voyage of the Freewinds on 6 June 1988. Its procedures for handling its receipts, discussed below, have applied since its inception and remain unchanged today.

CSFSSO does not have, nor has it ever had, a United States bank account. None of its income has ever been banked in the U.S. CSFSSO has never provided any religious goods or services to its parishioners within the United States; rather, these activities are conducted entirely outside the U.S., from aboard the M.V. Freewinds.

CSFSSO has local bank accounts in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, the home port of the Freewinds. CSFSSO also has U.S. dollar and foreign currency accounts in Luxembourg. CSFSSO accepts payments and donations via major credit cards (e.g. Visa and Mastercard), which are deposited in its local accounts in Curacao.|

Parishioners in the U.S. who wish to make donations to CSFSSO for religious services usually send payment by check or credit card debit to CSFSSO via the Church of Scientology Freewinds Relay Office, located in Clearwater, Florida. This is a practical expedient because the Freewinds is usually at sea in the Caribbean and its exact location for mail purposes varies. The Relay Office collects all mail and other communications destined for the Freewinds. Any currency intended for CSFSSO is converted into a U.S. dollar draft or money order; cash is never sent abroad in a mailpack because of the risk of theft or other loss. Every week, the Relay Office forwards all mail, including checks and credit card invoices, to Curacao. If the Freewinds is not in port, the mailpack is collected by a Ship’s representative and delivered to the Ship as soon as it arrives. All checks are invoiced by CSFSSO on-board the Freewinds and is deposited into local bank accounts in Curacao, as noted above.

In that same 1992 IRS filing Scientology also told the IRS about Scientologists having bounced checks:

One wonders what sort of hellish Ethics handlings OT 7’s faced when their “postulate checks” for OT 8 bounced. This amusing admission that some Scientologists write bad checks shows us that Scientology follows up to collect on them.

When the Church of Scientology took delivery of its new ship in 1986, an intense 20-month period of renovations began. Deadly blue asbestos on the ship was discovered during this period. Former Sea Org member and architect Lawrence Woodcraft wrote an affidavit on this matter in 2001. Woodcraft describes the extensive amounts of asbestos aboard the ship. An excerpt of the Woodcraft Affidavit is quite revealing about Scientology’s attitude regarding asbestos:

No one on the ship knew anything about asbestos, nor did they care… Around this time Bitty Miscavige visited the ship. She was the Church executive with overall responsibility for the ship project. I went to her and took copies of the ship’s blueprints and showed her the full extent of asbestos on the ship. At first she was calm, but as I further explained the dangers, she begun to realize that it was a problem. We had a meeting to discuss the problem of asbestos. Steve Kisacky stated that L. Ron Hubbard doesn’t state in policy that asbestos is dangerous; he only states that fiberglass is dangerous and therefore we are only removing the fiberglass. In fact, the dock next to the Freewinds was piled high with fiberglass that had been removed by Sea Org members. It was explained to me that the ship was being remodeled only according to the written policies and “advices” of L. Ron Hubbard. Since Hubbard had been in the US Navy and had then founded the Sea Org and had run a fleet of ships, he knew everything about ships. If asbestos was dangerous, he would have written this somewhere. Also Hubbard knew everything about cancer. He had written that cancer was caused by the mind and specifically second dynamic aberration (problems with relationships). I was told that people only get sick if they go into “agreement” with being sick. As the ship was going to be filled with “operating thetans” doing the highest level in Scientology (OT 8) nothing was going to make them sick. I was being a “wog” (non-scientologist) worrying about a little thing like asbestos.

International Management having decreed that Sea Org members and OTVIII’s were impervious to asbestos and mesothelioma, the renovations and crew recruitment continued apace. Scientology management’s view of asbestos offers us yet more evidence into how Scientology thinks and acts with wanton and flagrant disregard for the well-being of its members.

In our next installment we look at the immediate events leading up the Maiden Voyage of the MV Freewinds.

 
— Jeffrey Augustine

 
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The new Scientology TV lineup!

We know you’re just dying to see how prime time shakes out in this new “season” of Scientology TV. Now you can plan your week around Dave’s new shows!

 

 
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Underground Bunker TV

The programming just keeps coming at Underground Bunker TV. We’ve posted short videos about how ABCMouse and Humira are helping to keep Scientology in business, about Scientology attorney Gary Soter’s attempt to stop Leah Remini, David Miscavige’s position in the church (and why he’s shy about it), what Scientology says about Jesus and Christianity, Scientology’s obsession with masturbation, the reason Miscavige is obsessed with “Ideal Orgs,” why nothing was done about Narconon deaths, the vile secret buried in Dianetics, the continuation of Scientology spying, why Tom Cruise doesn’t see Suri, Where Is Shelly?, how many Scientologists are there, anyway, and questions about the Writers of the Future contest. 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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Scientology’s celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs’ — now with comments!

[Bodhi Elfman and the Berlin Ideal Org]

We’re building landing pages about two of David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, his celebrities and his ‘Ideal Orgs.’ We’re posting pages each day, and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about 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 celebrities 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, Laura Prepon, Marisol Nichols, Michael Peña, Nancy Cartwright, Tom Cruise Danny Masterson, Stanley Clarke, Edgar Winter, Alanna Masterson, Billy Sheehan, Judy Norton-Taylor, Terry Jastrow, Eddie Deezen, and Sofia Milos. 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; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Seattle, Washington; Dallas, Texas; Melbourne, Australia; San Fernando Valley, California; Pasadena, California; Bogotá, Colombia; Budapest, Hungary; Phoenix, Arizona; London, England; Orange County, California; Atlanta, Georgia; Auckland, New Zealand; Miami, Florida; and Basel, Switzerland.

Today it’s Bodhi Elfman and Berlin, Germany!

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,233 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,866 days
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 409 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 297 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,472 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,246 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,020 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,366 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,932 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,600 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,860 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,900 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,612 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,138 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,227 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,367 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,687 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,543 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,662 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,018 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,320 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,426 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,829 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,700 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,283 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,788 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,032 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,141 days.

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3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on October 10, 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates

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

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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