In September, Hubbard announced the new Class VIII Auditor Course, in the Auditor magazine. The announcement was accompanied by a center spread of Hubbard's photographs. There is a shot of an Ethics Officer, carrying a heavy wooden baton, wearing dark glasses and full uniform, and scowling at a student who is smiling back, apprehensively. The caption reads: "No one can fool a Sea Org Ethics Officer. He knows who's ethics bait." Another shot shows a Sea Org member suspended in mid-air by two Ethics Officers, one wearing a broad grin. He is about to be thrown over the rail, into the sea. The caption reads: "Students are thrown overboard for gross out tech and bequeathed to the deep!" "Out tech" is a Hubbardism for "misapplication of Scientology auditing procedures." The editor of Auditor 41 thought the photos were a Hubbard joke. Hubbard was deadly serious. 14
Every Scientology Org was ordered to send two Auditors to be trained as "Class VIIIs." As "VIIIs" their auditing would be "flubless." The course would take three weeks, so previous Ethics procedures were of little use - they took too long to administer. Rather than languishing in the chain-locker for a week, or doing three days without sleep on "amends projects," students were to be subject to "instant Ethics," or overboarding. There is no doubt that Hubbard ordered this (one ex-Sea Org officer says Hubbard even took out his home movie camera and filmed it once or twice). 15
Scientologists who joined after 1970 are often unaware that overboarding took place. Most who have heard of it, and those who were subjected to it, dismiss it as a passing phase; unpleasant, but no longer significant. People who experienced it often shrug it off, and even insist that it was "research." It can take persistence to extract an admission of the reality of overboarding. Students and crew were lined up on deck in the early hours every morning. They waited to hear whether they were on the day's list of miscreants. Those who knew they were would remove their shoes, jackets and wristwatches in anticipation. The drop was between fifteen and forty feet, depending upon which deck was used. Sometimes people were blindfolded first, and either their feet or hands loosely tied. Non-swimmers were tied to a rope. Being hurled such a distance, blindfolded and restrained, into cold sea water, must have been terrifying. Worst of all was the fear that you would hit the side of the ship as you fell, your flesh ripped open by the barnacles. Overboarding was a very traumatic experience. 16
The course lectures too seem to have been a traumatic experience for many. Hubbard lectured from a spotlit dais, surrounded by the female Commodore's Staff Aides in flowing white gowns. The lectures were peppered with the old easygoing manner, but punctuated with tablebanging and bouts of yelling. Later, some of Hubbard's tantrums were edited from the tapes of the lectures. The lectures were "confidential," and only fully indoctrinated Scientologists could attend.
Students wore green boiler-suits, and, after a certain point on the course, added a short noose of rope around their necks as a mark of honor. They had little time for sleep, and were inevitably extremely cautious in their auditing. If they made a mistake, it was "instant Ethics," and they were heaved over the side. 17
Hubbard published the purpose of the Class VIII course: "It's up to the Auditor to become UNCOMPROMISINGLY STANDARD . . . an uncompromising zealot for Standard Tech." Sea Org "Missions" were dispatched from Corfu to all corners of the world to bully Org staffs into higher production. Hubbard pronounced that such "Missions" had "unlimited Ethics powers." 18
Alex Mitchell of the London Sunday Times reported that a woman with two children had run screaming from the ship, only to be rounded up and returned by her fellow Scientologists. The journalist also said that eight-year-old children were being overboarded:
Discipline . . . is severe. Members of the crew can be officers one day and swabbing the decks the next. Status is conferred by Boy Scout-like decoration; a white neck tie is for students, brown for petty officers, yellow for officers, and blue for Hubbard's personal staff .... Recently the crew decided to paint the water tanks. Unwilling to give the job to local contractors the Scientologists did it themselves - only to find that when they next used their taps the water was polluted with paint. 19
Kenneth Urquhart joined the ship at Corfu. From Hubbard's butler he had risen to become a senior executive at Saint Hill. He had resolutely avoided joining the Sea Org, but was finally cajoled into travelling to Corfu. He was amazed at the change in Hubbard. At Saint Hill he had seen him every day. Although Hubbard occasionally lost his temper, Urquhart had only once seen him quivering with rage. Now screaming fits were a regular feature. OT 3 and the Sea Org had transformed Hubbard.