Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


The subchaser that never was: L. Ron Hubbard’s farcical first command

It’s Memorial Day here in the US, and once again we’ve asked Chris Owen for an excerpt from his excellent book Ron the War Hero to commemorate L. Ron Hubbard’s war service. Make sure to pick up a copy of the book if you haven’t already.

Eighty years ago this June, L. Ron Hubbard took charge of his first command – the USS YP-422, in Neponset, Massachusetts. Having returned from “hard action in the South Pacific,” according to the Scientology publication “Ron: Humanitarian – Restoring Honor and Self-Respect”, he took command of “a hastily fitted subchaser” aboard which he “distinguished himself as an officer who cared more for the safety of his ship and men than for gilded braid.” The truth, as ever with Hubbard, was much more prosaic and his time aboard the YP-422 ended in ignominy.

When Hubbard arrived at George Lawley’s shipyard at Neponset on June 25, 1942, he was put to work as a Conversion Officer, overseeing the conversion of a heavy beam trawler called the Mist into the US Navy gunboat YP-422. She was modestly armed with a 3” .50 caliber dual purpose gun mounted on the forward deck and two .30 caliber machine guns.


Gunboats such as the YP-422 were intended for coastal defense against German U-boats, which had roamed virtually unopposed along the US Atlantic coast during the first months of the war. As the class name YP indicated, the YP-422 was to be assigned to yard patrol purposes – in this case, for the defense of Boston Harbor and its naval installations.

Hubbard would later claim that the YP-422 was a corvette, a much more formidable class of ship. In reality the US Navy was so desperate for anything that could reduce the German massacre of shipping along the Atlantic coast that it put guns on anything that could float and recruited anyone with a modest experience of sailing to command them.

Hubbard was also in charge of getting the ship’s crew ready for service. He later claimed in a 1961 Scientology lecture that he had “governed a ship of criminals” and turned them into superb sailors:

“They were on their way to Portsmouth Naval Prison and they took them off the prison train and shipped them to me. Combat vessel needed a crew. They didn’t have any crews. They had a lot of people in uniform, but didn’t have people they wanted to send out into the teeth of the North Atlantic in 1942. A hundred percent criminals these fellows were.

I governed them by throwing away their service record books. I just told them, “well, I’m not going to make any marks in your service records.” I saw them come aboard with their braid dirty and their hammocks black with grime and they stood there slouched, and that was the first intimation I had that this was the crew. There they were. More than a hundred men lined up on the deck.”

In fact, the YP-422 had only 35 crew (including Hubbard and his executive officer). There is no indication from the ship’s muster rolls that any of them were transferred from a prison.

Exactly one month after arriving, Hubbard was able to take YP- 422 out of her dock for a trial trip in the harbor which was recorded by a naval photographer. The following month, YP-422 put to sea for a short test cruise, for the first and only time that Hubbard was aboard her on the open ocean. During her shakedown cruise the vessel conducted 27 hours of training exercises. A few practice rounds were fired to test the deck gun.

There was no suggestion that any enemy vessels had been involved, despite later claims by the Church of Scientology that Hubbard had seen action in the North Atlantic. Church publications claim that Hubbard rose to command the “Fourth British Corvette Squadron” – a unit that never existed – and had commanded British and American anti-submarine vessels in desperate battles against Nazi U-boats, an event entirely unrecorded in his service record. In fact, according to a former crewman, Eugene LaMere, “the YP- 422 never saw combat.”

By September 9, Hubbard was confident enough about his vessel to send a message to the Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard reporting that YP-422 was in excellent condition, crew training was “approaching efficiency” and morale was high. “As soon as a few deficiencies are remedied,” he added, “this vessel will be in all respects ready for sea and is very eager to be on her way to her assigned station or task force.”

YP-422 embarked on her shakedown cruise in October 1942. Her prospective Commanding Officer, however, was not on board. Hubbard had become involved in a dispute with the Commandant of the Boston Navy Yard, Commander J. H. Keefe. Tense relations had developed between the officers in charge of the conversion work and those assigned to crew the ten YP vessels being converted at the Neponset shipyard. This culminated in an order from the Commandant prohibiting YP officers from approaching the conversion office or even speaking to any of the shipyard workers.

Hubbard fired off a memorandum to the Vice-Chief of Naval Operations (VC OPNAV) in Washington. He named the officer that he held responsible for the dispute and claimed that the prospective YP Commanding Officers were all “startled” by the order. Perhaps not surprisingly, this got Hubbard into trouble. On September 25, the Commandant requested that Hubbard be relieved of command:


Hubbard was determined not to go down fighting and sent a telegram to VC OPNAV protesting his removal:



His plea was ignored. On October 1, 1942, the Commandant of the First Naval District, Captain H. G. Copeland, sent Hubbard a memo detaching him from command of YP-422 and ordering him to report to the Commandant of the Third Naval District “for such duty as he may assign you.”

Hubbard’s departure under a cloud was an early sign of his unfitness for command. Unfortunately for the Navy, Commander Keefe’s advice that Hubbard should be put “under immediate supervision of a more senior officer” was not heeded. Six months later, Hubbard took charge of his second and final command, the USS PC-815, and sailed into even bigger disgrace.

— Chris Owen

More highlights of Ron’s military career…

Nov 4, 2020: L. Ron Hubbard’s stolen valor: A new breakdown of his bogus medals by a military veteran
Nov 7, 2020: Medal by medal, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s ‘stolen valor’ is laid bare
Dec 9, 2021: Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in WW2: Notes from a prohibited war diary


Sign up for a daily email when we post a new story on Scientology.

Did you know you can get an email every morning when we post our daily Scientology story? We know some of the folks who come to the Underground Bunker aren’t here to talk about the politics of the day, and that’s why we created a daily politics feature over at our other blog, The Lowdown, and we ask readers to take their political discussions over there. And if you drop us a line at tonyo94 AT gmail, we’ll put you on the list so you get a morning reminder that a new Scientology story has been posted — and only for our Scientology stories.



Source Code

“It’s pretty hard to complete a cycle in a half a billion years. You can try. And you get it down to a million years, and of course, to get anything done in a million years and make it stick, that’s really going some, man, you’re really on your way, that’s tearing the ground up in all directions. The length of time since the birth of Chr — the alleged birth of Christ — is so short, that before you’ve gone very long on the road to OT, you could probably remember what you had for breakfast in the year 2, and during the third day of the Saturnalia or something like that. Not that you would, probably cause you as much work to remember what you had for breakfast that morning as it does now to remember what you had for breakfast yesterday, see. You probably can’t think of what you had for breakfast yesterday right now. So that is a very finite period of time. That’s a very short period of time. A couple of thousand years, nothing. I’d like a couple of thousand years just to sit on a rock and look at the scenery — one of my ambitions.” — L. Ron Hubbard, May 30, 1963


Avast, Ye Mateys

“PERSONAL HYGIENE: CS-6 and the Public Officer’s nominee should compose a short course on personal hygiene and cleanliness. A ship is a small place. In old navies the penalty was a bath with sand and canvas and a ducking for those with deficiencies.” — The Commodore, May 30, 1970


Overheard in the FreeZone

“Now that the virus has been shown to be no worse than the common flu, it has emerged that its purpose was to affect the economy of the USA to derail Trump’s re-election. That can be the next job for Clears and OTs to handle as a team.”


Past is Prologue

2001: Die Presse reported that Gerry Armstrong spoke to the Austrian Federal Center for Sect Issues on his experiences in Scientology. “‘Power and money are the real motivations behind Scientology. That really has nothing to do with religion.’ Canadian Gerry Armstrong, who spoke from his decades of experience with the obscure ‘private religion’ of sect founder L. Ron Hubbard, who died in 1986, spoke at a meeting of the Federal Center for Sect Issues to warn against categorizing Scientology as a religion. A religion that persecuted former members in an effort to silence them or – as happened to him in the mid 1980s – threatened to put a ‘bullet between his eyes,’ was certainly not a religion, Armstrong believed. He said he spent over two years in the organization’s ‘concentration camp.’ After he left the sect he was persecuted: physical threats, lawsuits, libel and breaking into his house were a daily routine.

Armstrong emphasized the sect’s influence on the USA’s justice and administrative systems, an influence which became increasing apparent in the 1990s. Since that time, the freedom of religion guaranteed by the US Constitution has been more or less used to enact a prohibition against criticism of religion and as a license for groups to suppress their members, Armstrong said.”


Random Howdy

“First there was the Thetaverse and the Thetans were born, and through shared agreement and control of MEST (superpowers) they created other universes and then they created the MEST universe so they could assume physical form and have a playground to play ‘games’ in and enjoy the pleasures of the flesh. But eventually they forgot all this. And I thought to myself, ‘Hey, isn’t this a Star Trek or Outer Limits episode?’”


Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next pretrial conference May 31. Trial scheduled for August 29.
‘Lafayette Ronald Hubbard’ (a/k/a Justin Craig), aggravated assault, plus drug charges: Last hearing was on January 18, referred to grand jury. Additional charges also referred to grand jury after January 5 assault while in jail.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference June 9 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for June 2.

Joseph ‘Ben’ Barton, Medicare fraud: Pleaded guilty, awaiting sentencing.
Yanti Mike Greene, Scientology private eye accused of contempt of court: Found guilty of criminal and civil contempt.

Civil litigation:
Baxter, Baxter, and Paris v. Scientology, alleging labor trafficking: Complaint filed April 28 in Tampa federal court.
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Eleventh Circuit affirmed ruling granting Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Garcias considering next move.
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Valerie’s motion for reconsideration denied on March 15.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: Appellate court removes requirement of arbitration on January 19, case remanded back to Superior Court. Next hearing scheduled for June 29.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for December 6.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: New trial ordered after appeals court overturned prior ruling.
Chiropractors Steve Peyroux and Brent Detelich, stem cell fraud: Lawsuit filed by the FTC and state of Georgia in August, now in discovery phase.



We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.


After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.


An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.


Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. 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 a weekly series. How many have you read?


[ONE year ago] Today at The Daily Beast: Ron and Leni, a Scientology mystery solved
[TWO years ago] Steve Cannane wrote the book about Scientology in Australia — and now he’s on trial
[THREE years ago] Scientology’s slick new ‘Freewinds’ magazine surprisingly makes no mention of measles
[FOUR years ago] Bad boys of the Sea Org: guns, drugs, murder and Scientology
[FIVE years ago] To counter Leah Remini’s return to A&E, Scientology recruits her father in smear attack
[SIX years ago] How Scientology’s smears of Ron Miscavige could end up a bigger problem for his son Dave
[SEVEN years ago] Jon Atack: Auditing and recovered memory — why do Scientologists accept it as fact?
[EIGHT years ago] Three videos the Church of Scientology would rather you not watch
[NINE years ago] Word To Your Mother: Dianetics And Its Lack of Boundaries


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,680 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 3,185 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,735 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,725 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,616 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,922 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,791 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,565 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,896 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,369 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,685 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 12,251 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 8,170 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,338 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,918 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 4,180 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 3,216 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,931 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,456 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 811 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,986 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,537 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,686 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 4,006 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,861 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,980 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,336 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,639 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,745 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 3,143 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 3,019 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,602 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 3,097 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,351 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,460 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on May 30, 2022 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, 1995-2021 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2021), 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, 15 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


Tony Ortega at The Daily Beast


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email