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Freewinds, part 3: How the cruise ship fits Scientology’s methods of obfuscation and lies

Jeffrey Augustine concludes his series on the history of Scientology’s private barge, the Freewinds. See his earlier parts one and part two.

In 1984 David Miscavige and L. Ron Hubbard were under intense scrutiny by the US government. Miscavige referred to this period in a speech to Scientologists at an IAS event on October 8, 1993:

Nine years and one day ago, the International Association of Scientologists was formed to protect and defend Scientologists and the Scientology religion. At that time, in October of 1984, we found ourselves under vicious external attack. From the media. In civil courts. And by the government. The attacks were of such intensity and velocity – so sustained in nature – that we knew our very survival could only be assured if all of us – as Scientologists – banded together to create a worldwide association. Only in this way could we gather the wherewithal to survive such attacks and hopefully expand.

As we covered in a previous article, the IAS was incorporated in Curacao in 1984. Legally separate and supposedly autonomous from the Church of Scientology’s control –- which is not true in actual practice — the IAS was created to be a vast pool of offshore money. The US Government could not seize offshore IAS monies if the Church had its assets seized by the IRS. Scientology also ensured that its new ship would be also protected by similar means. A series of Panamanian corporations were created to own the Bohème and hold the mortgage on the vessel.


Because Scientology did not have IRS tax exemption when the Freewinds was purchased, the ship was registered and flagged in Panama to give a legal means to avoid paying minimum wage and taxes on the income the ship earned. Thousands of ships are flagged in Panama because of the lax requirements of Panamanian registration. An article from the Journal of Maritime Law & Commerce (Volume 47, No. 1, January 2016) shows why American-based cruise lines, and the American-based Church of Scientology choose Panamanian registry:

In the case of American-based shipowners, the open registry system provides huge advantages. First, these shipowners are currently exempt from U.S. federal income and branch profit taxes. Thus, even though cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean earn a substantial proportion of their profits by selling cruises to millions of American citizens, to embark on itineraries that begin and end on U.S. ports, they can avoid income taxes by registering as foreign corporations and sailing under foreign flags. This is possible thanks to a decades-old loophole in the Federal tax code. Under section 883 of the Internal Revenue Code, certain non-U.S. corporations (such as North American cruise ship businesses) are not subject to U.S. federal income tax or branch profits tax on U.S. sources of income derived from, or incidental to, the international operation of a ship or ships.

Second, the open registry system gives American-based shipowners the ability to avoid strict U.S. federal labor laws, minimum wage law and many environmental and safety regulations. Even if a cruise line is based in the United States (with ships home ported in the United States), it can be immune from lawsuits for violations of federal labor laws, such as the Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

By flagging the Freewinds in Panama and making its home port in Curacao, the ship was protected from US authorities in every way possible and could legally avoid paying income taxes on monies the ship generated. Also, Panamanian flagging legally allowed the Freewinds to avoid having to pay minimum wage to the crew of the Freewinds. Panamanian registry fit in with Scientology’s numerous strategies for extracting wealth from its members while shielding itself to the greatest extent possible from legal liability. These principles are used throughout all echelons of Scientology:

1. Gain every possible advantage that allows Scientology to escape legal accountability for its own behavior and actions. The best possible advantage was gained when Scientology declared itself a religion and gained US First Amendment religious protections along with tax exemption.

2. The second great advantage Scientology gained for itself was in requiring its members to sign a series of waivers by which they abandon their legal rights as a precondition of receiving Scientology services. Imagine it: Scientologists pay Scientology for its services, and, they sign away their legal rights at the time of purchase.

3. Initiate a culture of snitching in which Scientologists write Knowledge Reports and other reports on their fellow Scientologists. Scientology’s system of internal policing applies across all Orgs, echelons, and sectors of Scientology from RTC to the Freewinds to Narconon and everywhere else.

4. Charge as much money as possible for goods and services. Scientology’s services, books, and tapes are exorbitantly priced because Scientologists believe they have been brought into a state in which they are in desperate need of these things and so will pay what is demanded. Also, wealthy people have a tendency to believe that if something is expensive, it must be valuable.

5. Be as deceptively organized as possible. For example, the Freewinds is its own Org called the Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO). However, FSSO is not autonomous and is rather a sub-licensee of the Church of Scientology International (CSI). CSI is a non-membership corporation whose duties are to sub-license and manage Scientology Orgs and to collect fees and royalties from its sub-licensees. CSI itself is not autonomous and operates based upon a license from the Religious Technology Center. Alternately, San Donato Properties and Transcorp appear to still hold a mortgage on the Freewinds. Its maiden voyage having occurred thirty years ago in 1988, one has to ask why the Freewinds has not been able to pay off its mortgage in all that time.

6. When Scientology’s internal talent base becomes inadequate because of experienced Sea Org staff blowing or routing out then these duties are outsourced. It appears that the Freewinds’ needs for management services has been outsourced to a Miami firm named Cruise Management International, Inc.

7. Avoid paying all Scientology workers minimum wage, healthcare insurance, or contributing towards any sort of pension for their old age.

8. Demand and extract as much labor, production, and income as possible from its workers while paying them the least amount of money possible.

9. Demand and extract as much money as possible from Scientology “parishioners” while giving as little as possible in return. This is the reason for the IAS. The original operational base of the IAS was aboard the Freewinds and, some have argued to me, the Freewinds was purchased to give the IAS an offshore location that could freely travel to the various tax havens in the Caribbean. The following are the Caribbean tax havens the Freewinds routinely visits:

Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Bonaire, Cartagena, Curacao, Dominica, Grand Cayman, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent.


The MV Freewinds is an OT ship on a very expensive and perpetual journey to the Front Porch of Infinity, a destination to which it has never actually arrived nor will ever arrive.

— Jeffrey Augustine

As an added treat, here’s the glossy pamphlet announcing the launch of the Freewinds…



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

[Kelly Preston, Beck, and Anne Archer]

We’re building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs.’ 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.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Today’s Ideal Org: Québec, Canada!



Now on sale: Twice the Miss Lovely!

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. What a pleasure it is for us to work with her on this after we wrote about her ordeal as a victim of Scientology’s “Fair Game” campaigns in our 2015 book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, which is also on sale in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions.



[ONE year ago] Read the threatening letter Danny Masterson’s attorney Marty Singer sent a victim’s husband
[TWO years ago] What the first trailer for Leah Remini’s Scientology series tells us about her show
[THREE years ago] Chapter by chapter, the best parts of Leah Remini’s book ‘Troublemaker’
[FOUR years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology is finger lickin’ good!
[FIVE years ago] Jon Atack Answers The Question: How Do Smart People Fall for Scientology?
[SIX years ago] Scientology on the High Seas: The Final Dispatches


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,256 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 1,889 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,369 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 432 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 320 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,495 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,269 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,043 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,389 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 10,955 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 6,875 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,042 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,623 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 2,883 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 1,923 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,635 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,161 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,250 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,390 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,710 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,566 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,685 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,041 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,343 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,449 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,852 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,723 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,306 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,811 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,055 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,164 days.


3D-UnbreakablePosted by Tony Ortega on November 2, 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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