Mystery of our neighbour in port
By John Honeywell on Mar 4, 11 in Cruise ships . Daily Mirror Blogs (UK).
http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/captain-greyb ... in-po.html
For more information/reports on Freewinds topics, see our dedicated Org Patrol section here: viewforum.php?f=282Saga Pearl II has had some interesting neighbours in the past couple of ports.
More interesting yet was the ship berthed aft of us yesterday in Santa Anna Bay, Willemstad, on the island of Curacao.
MV Freewinds may look like any other cruise ship of a certain vintage - it was built at Turku in Finland in 1968 - but it has a fascinating history and an intriguing present.
Originally designed as a ferry to sail between Bremerhaven in Germany and Harwich in the UK, it was converted to the Boheme, sailing in the Caribbean for Commodore Cruise Line which went bankrupt in 2001.
So far, so dull, but this is where it gets exciting.
In 1986 the ship was bought by the Church of Scientology, to be used as a peaceful retreat and for members undertaking advanced training courses. It is operated under cover of a company called Majestic Cruise Lines.
The ship is the fifth owned by the Church of Scientology, whose founder, L Ron Hubbard, spent some time at sea in the 1960s. The previous four have all been scrapped, and Freewinds came within a whisker of meeting the same fate in 2008 when lethal blue asbestos was found on board.
As well as being used as the only venue where the church's most senior members can be trained to Operating Thetan Level 8, the ship holds a conference cruise each July, and hosts concerts for the residents of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao.
It brought to mind the fantasy novel Plague Ship, by Clive Cussler and Jack du Brul, in which members of an obscure religious cult (no similiarity intended, I'm sure) use a cruise ship as their base for an evil plot to take over the world.
It's utter tosh, and I would hesitate to recommend it except for anyone setting out on a lengthy flight without on-board entertainment.
But at least I could look across to Freewinds from Saga Pearl and dream about a Mission: Impossible-type clash between square-jawed heroes and crazed religious zealots. And to wonder whether that was Tom Cruise sunning himself by the pool.
[full article in above link.]
Other related newsmedia links and topics from the OCMB Media Reports section:
April 2008 onwards: OCMB Newsmedia megathread: Freewinds hides info about presence of blue asbestos
Oct 2009 Maritime Reporter puff article on Freewinds after its major asbestos clearing refit & tart-up..
http://maritimereporter.marinelink.com/ ... 200910/35/
April 2010: St.Lucia: Archbishop warns against Scientology Invasion!
Back to the Daily Mirror blog article, Reader comments are open and active.
Here's a sample....
Van Durshing said:
That ship and the devoted crew are mere instruments which are effectively employed by The Cult Of $cientology to separate fools from their money, on the high seas.
what an adventure!
March 4, 2011 10:58 PM
Peter Koy said:
Perhaps that might explain the extraordinary amount of members belonging to that odd UFO sect that have contracted terminal cancer.
Ironic when they have spent their life savings on courses that are supposed to make them immune from any illnesses!
But then it is what would one expect from such a cult, especially when its leader is quoted to have said "not smoking enough cigarettes causes lung cancer".
March 5, 2011 12:35 AM
quoted from lawyersandsettlementsDOTcom:
"This is not the first time the MV Freewinds has been investigated for blue asbestos. In 2001, a former Scientology member, architect Lawrence Woodcraft, submitted a sworn affidavit stating that he was exposed to blue asbestos while working on the Freewinds in 1987. As well, a statement from the ship's captain claimed that there were previous incidents where blue asbestos was released into the ship's ventilation system. But the Church of Scientology denied Woodcraft's claim and in so doing, the Church knowingly exposed its passengers and members to this most deadliest form of asbestos for the past 21 years!"
Maybe its high time for someone in authority to take action. Thanks Captain for posting this.
March 5, 2011 12:49 AM