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Scientology measles ship back in Curaçao, which talks tough about quarantine

Scientology’s floating cathedral the MV Freewinds arrived in Willemstad, Curaçao this morning after leaving St. Lucia Thursday, where the ship had been in quarantine because of a crew member with a confirmed case of measles. Officials in Curaçao said they would quarantine the vessel, board the ship, demand vaccination records of the crew and passengers, and vaccinate anyone who couldn’t provide proof that they had already been immunized.

The plight of Scientology’s private cruise ship has quickly become a symbol for the anti-vaccination panic in the US, and the vessel returning to its home port of Curaçao only seems to be increasing media interest. So far, Curaçao is talking tough, but Scientology has been spreading its money and influence in the Dutch islands for a long time, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

To help understand how we got here, we thought we’d provide a more complete timeline of events regarding Scientology and its sailing church. And we want to thank several people for their help on this, including Jeffrey Augustine, Eivol Ekdal, and Triumph.


1968: The vessel, built at the Wärtsilä Turku Shipyard in Turku, Finland is originally designed as a North Sea car ferry, but the company that orders it changes its mind, so it’s reconfigured as a passenger cruise ship and christened MS Bohème, destined for Miami. But on its first voyage, it hits an undersea sea cliff near Stockholm, and the hull and a large fuel tank rupture, requiring repairs.

1970: Unsuited for the Caribbean, the ship is returned to Hamburg for an extensive rebuild, including better air conditioning. For the next 12 years it’s used for a weekly run between Miami and St. Thomas, operated by Commodore Cruise Lines.


1983: After an ownership change, the Bohème is sent to South America for about a year and then returns to the Caribbean for a retrofit and settles in its new home port in St. Petersburg, Florida.

1984: With Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in hiding, the Church of Scientology International decides that when it releases the new, highest level of auditing, Operating Thetan Level Eight (OT 8), it should be an experience that takes place on a ship. The church begins raising money and looking for a suitable vessel.

1985: Scientology identifies the Bohème as the ship they want to purchase for delivering OT 8. The Flag Ship Trust is created in December, with an initial funding of $5 million coming from the International Association of Scientologists.

Jan 24, 1986: L. Ron Hubbard dies of a stroke at the Creston, California ranch where’s been hiding out for several years. Scientologists are told that he was actually still very healthy but had chosen to leave his body to pursue further research in an incorporeal state.

1986: San Donato Properties of Panama purchases the Bohème for $10 million. San Donato Properties is a subsidiary of Transcorp Services S.A., which is owned by Scientology’s Flag Ship Trust. Extensive renovations are done to the ship, which is now in Willemstad, Curaçao.

During those renovations, worker Lawrence Woodcraft discovers that the ship contains substantial amounts of blue asbestos, the most hazardous form of the substance. But since L. Ron Hubbard had never written anything about asbestos or its cancer-causing potential, nothing is done about removing it from the ship.

April, 1988: The Flag Ship Service Organization is created to manage the ship and deliver OT 8. It will consist entirely of Sea Org personnel, Scientologists so dedicated they have signed billion-year contracts and promise to work for Scientology lifetime after lifetime.

June 6, 1988: The Freewinds begins its Maiden Voyage under Scientology control. Ron Miscavige is one of the musicians brought to the ship to take part in the celebrations. He says he’s looking forward to a Caribbean holiday, but instead finds himself working around the clock and catching sleep on cushions on the deck. He says it set a pattern: For the passengers, it might be a cruise, but for the people working, it’s a slave ship.

June 1988: The initial “OT 8” materials are given to select Scientologists for the first time, and immediately there’s a problem. In the materials, L. Ron Hubbard (who had died two years earlier) reveals the secret that he’s actually the antichrist, he denigrates Jesus as a “lover of young boys,” and he also claims to be the reincarnation of Buddha. The material is so upsetting to students, the materials are soon ditched and replaced with a “New OT 8” later.


1995: Australian girl Ramana Dienes-Browning joins Scientology’s Sea Org and is sent to the Freewinds, where she is trained to be a tough executive. She also finds a partner and gets married. She is 16 years old.

September 1996: After being told she needs to “disconnect” from her mother, who had criticized Scientology on French television, Swiss-born Valeska Paris, 18, is sent to the ship to work for the next 11 years. She says that during that time, she is a prisoner on the ship in order to keep her separated from her mother.

October 1996: To make up for escaping from his job at Scientology’s Flag Land Base in Clearwater, Florida, Sea Org worker Don Jason agrees to go to the Freewinds as punishment.

November 21, 1996: After several weeks as a prisoner on the ship cleaning sludge, Don Jason can’t take it anymore and makes a daring escape, using a rolling pin to slide down a docking line.

1997: In a confession, a Sea Org member admits that he’s been masturbating because his sex life with his wife is unsatisfying. His wife, Ramana Dienes-Browning, is called “you little fucking bitch” by her superior, and she’s punished because of her husband’s confession. She’s 18.

July 3, 2004: For his 42nd birthday, Tom Cruise is feted on the ship in high style. While the party is going on, Sea Org executive Mike Rinder is cleaning the bilges as punishment. Valeska Paris was also doing “lower conditions” punishment and couldn’t attend the party because she’d gotten a cold sore a few weeks earlier and David Miscavige didn’t want her in sight of Cruise and his then-girlfriend, Penelope Cruz.


2006: Before their public wedding in Italy in November, Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes reportedly have a private, Scientology ceremony aboard the Freewinds.

2007: Valeska Paris finally gets away from the Freewinds and is sent to a Sea Org facility in Australia, where she eventually gets away from Scientology entirely.

April 2008: The presence of blue asbestos on the ship finally erupts into controversy during a ship renovation. The church claims that it regularly performs air quality tests, and claims that there is no asbestos exposure risk on the ship.



February 2015 – April, 2016: Scientology celebrities speak out in opposition to a California mandatory vaccination bill…

Juliette Lewis on Twitter: “I like my freedoms. I like my rights. Freedom of choice, voice, religion, thought, expression. But…”

Jenna Elfman on Facebook: “I’m NOT against vaccinations. I AM against the state removing parental rights. Our freedom to choose when/ how to vaccinate is IMPT.”

Danny Masterson on Twitter: “Hi friends. Help me fight california fascism and sign this petition. No one tells us how to live am I right?!!!”

Kirstie Alley on Twitter: “I’m not an anti vaxxer..I’m a ‘mandatory vaccine enemy’… And some vaccines are unsafe..period”

June 18, 2015: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stirs up anti-vaccination fears in the black community in a speech he delivers at the Scientology Community Center in south Los Angeles along with Scientology and Nation of Islam figure Tony Muhammad.


2019: The Freewinds departs Cartagena harbor on April 5, and then makes stops at Santa Marta, Colombia (April 6), Aruba (April 7), and Curacao (April 16). It leaves Curacao a little after midnight on April 17.

Wed April 17, 7:04 am: Freewinds arrives at Oranjestad, Aruba.

Wed April 17: Unnamed female crew member joins the ship from Europe.

Thu April 18: The second annual week-long Black Scientologists convention begins on the Freewinds in Aruba…



Sat April 20: Aruban locals are invited on the ship to take part in a talent show…


Sun April 21, 11:29 pm: Freewinds leaves Aruba for Willemstad, Curacao, arriving on Monday morning April 22, 5:12 am.

Mon April 22: The female crew member from Europe visits a doctor in Curacao for cold symptoms. Blood sample taken and is sent to Aruba for testing.

Wed April 24, 12:41 am: Freewinds leaves Curacao for Oranjestad, Aruba, arriving at 6:05 am.

Last year during the Black Scientologist convention, attendees passed out copies of The Way to Happiness to locals while away from the ship…



Did this year’s participants do the same? And in Aruba or Curacao, or both?

The convention ends on April 25, and most attendees go home. But some, including Bernard Bonner, remain on the ship.

Sat April 27, evening: Locals are invited on board for a concert benefiting the Go Cultura Foundation.


Sat April 27, 11:30 pm: Freewinds leaves Aruba for Willemstad, Curacao, arriving Sun April 28, 5:26 am.

Sun April 28, 10:09 pm: Freewinds departs Willemstad for St. Lucia.

Mon April 29: (Freewinds en route from Curacao to St. Lucia.) Aruba health officials alert Curacao that the blood test is positive for measles. Curacao officials in turn alert St. Lucia officials that the ship coming to them has a confirmed measles case.

Tue April 30, 7:51 am: Freewinds arrives at Castries, St. Lucia and is put on quarantine.

This also happens to be David Miscavige’s 59th birthday. Tom DeVocht points out that in the past, Miscavige has celebrated his birthday at the ship. Is there a small chance that the church leader is on board?

Thu May 2, 11:18 pm: Freewinds departs quarantine in Castries, St. Lucia, bound for Curacao.

Sat May 4, 5:40 am: Freewinds arrives in Curacao.


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

THURSDAY NIGHT OPPORTUNITY: This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. But we also want to point out that Cathy Schenkelberg’s “Squeeze My Cans” will be running at the Hollywood Fringe, and we encourage HowdyCon attendees to see her show on Thursday night, June 20. Tickets and more dates available here.

Friday night June 21 we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22. Note: You need to ask for the “family reunion” special rate.



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Erika Christensen, Ethan Suplee, and Juliette Lewis]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. 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!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Federal judge smacks down Scientology’s shameless attempt to delay forced-abortion case
[TWO years ago] Forced abortions, beatings, and sleep deprivation: The FBI on Scientology’s Sea Org
[THREE years ago] Scientology confirms it won’t oppose Monique Rathbun’s plans to ditch lawsuit
[FOUR years ago] More from a secretly-recorded executive griping about Scientology’s sad state of affairs
[FIVE years ago] Sunday Funnies: Scientology says, May the Fourth be with you
[SIX years ago] SCIENTOLOGY TO CALIFORNIA SUPREMES: State’s Priest-Penitent Law is Unconstitutional
[SEVEN years ago] Amanda Palmer Loved Kate Bornstein’s Memoir So Much, She Crashed the Book Party


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,436 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,565 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,069 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,549 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 609 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 500 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,807 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,675 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,449 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,223 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,569 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,135 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,055 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,222 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,803 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,064 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,103 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,815 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,341 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,430 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,570 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,890 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,746 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,865 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,221 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,523 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,629 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,031 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,903 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,486 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,981 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,235 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,344 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 4, 2019 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post 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 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. Our book about Paulette, 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, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | 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, or 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 | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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