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Featured The Foul Air of the Freewinds an Ex-SO Member’s Story

Discussion in 'Stories From Inside Scientology' started by aegerprimo, Aug 23, 2013.

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  1. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude

    This is my story of how I came to sign a billion-year contract and become exposed to blue asbestos. This account is to the best of my memory. Many years have passed; some details are as clear as they happened yesterday, many details elude me. A lot of the names I do not remember, so I appropriately only included names of anyone who has already been mentioned in Lawrence Woodcraft’s affidavit and YouTube interview.

    I was a college student studying civil engineering at night at a community college, while working full-time as a draftsman at a land surveying company. I was on my own, paying my own way, and a lot was going on in life for me then. My father was dying of cancer, which put me in a state of sadness and shock. My fiancé of 3 years broke up with me, which put me in a state of exasperation and shock.

    It was the summer of 1985, and along came a Dianetics book from a friend who thought it might help. In no time, I was at NY Org daily taking courses, doing the grades. I was excited about Dianetics and Scientology and thought everyone in the world should know about it. It did not take long for a Sea Org member from CMO EUS to find me. She told me about the huge purpose of the Sea Org; that they were the most elite group of individuals in the world; it was their goal to get the tech to everyone and clear the planet. In joining I was able to focus on what I thought a noble task. My dying father and lost first love seemed trivial compared to helping everyone on Earth achieve… total freedom.

    During the first year in the SO, half was spent in CMO EUS (New York City) and half in CMO CW (Clearwater FL). During this time I spoke a lot of my drafting skills and how it would be great if I could somehow use them in the SO. I found out about LRH’s architect – Barry Stein (who later I came to find out was not really an architect) – and sent him my resume and some samples of my drafting/design work.

    Soon I was informed I was being sent to the ship that the church had just purchased. It was to be the place where the upper OT levels would be delivered, and was all SUPER TOP SECRET. I was handed a plane ticket, destination Curaçao. I didn’t know where Curaçao was, which in my ignorance I pronounced KUra-kAo. Didn’t matter, I was starting on an exciting adventure, a Sea Org member going to a ship!

    I arrived in September, 1986, 21 years-old and eager, with the last of my worldly possessions inside a dinky suitcase (mostly drafting equipment). The moment I pulled up in a taxi to where the ship was docked, I was in awe of how HUGE it was. I’d never been on or seen a cruise ship before. Somehow I was expecting something ferry-boat sized.

    At that time, the ship was still named the Bohème and retained a skeleton crew from the previous cruise-line, Commodore Cruise Line “The Happy Ships” (their logos were everywhere). The skeleton crew was mostly ship engineers. They were there teaching the new crew all the mechanical nuances of the ship. They had also helped rebuild the main engines when it was in dry-dock. The new crew of course consisted of all Sea Org members. Our “shore story” was that we were employed by Majestic Cruise Lines. It seemed easy to put up a front of being authentic merchant marines. We did fire safety, damage control training, and lifeboat rescue drills. For those of us who had never been on or worked on a ship before, we had to do LRH’s Able Bodied Seaman Course.

    These first SO crew members were skilled tradesmen; welders, diesel mechanics, electrical engineers versus being instant hatted for the posts as was the standard in the history of the SO. Some of them were veteran SO members who had served on ships with LRH in the past. Then there was the captain, Mike Napier, who was a real licensed ship captain versus an LRH appointed captain. I think his first mate was a licensed ship captain as well. It was a great group of people, from all over the world.

    The ship was ugly on the inside. Over worn 1960’s décor that smelled like a greasy kitchen; everywhere faded avocado green, tacky florals, lemon yellow and lime green vinyl. Renovations started in the crew quarters. The below water line crew areas were disgusting, total squalor. One cabin that stands out in my mind had a Sacred Heart Jesus poster taped to the wall over a built-in desk. On the desk were empty bottles of rum and a half-eaten can of sardines teeming with roaches. The smell made me gag, a combo of body odor and rotten fish.

    I worked with two interior designers. One was Barry Stein’s wife, Carol. The other was a public Scientologist. My job as a draftsman was to draw floor plans, elevations, and cross-sections, which included dimensions, materials, etc. so the designs could be built. I measured everything throughout the ship, and drew the interior designers’ plans to scale. I used the original blue prints of the ship as a guide, even though they were in Swedish and Finnish.

    As I went around the ship measuring this and that, I made it a hobby to collect all the coins scattered throughout the cabins and restaurants, coins from all over the world. I still have them.

    As the initial designs were being completed and sent off to INT for approval, SO members trickled onto the ship to do manual labor and demolition work. The crew areas were cleaned and re-tiled with linoleum, outside deck areas repainted and wood refinished, leaky pipes fixed. The engine room was totally repainted (supposedly Navy style) per LRH policy. I felt sorry for the “greenie crew” who had to scrub by hand every inch of the bug infested crew cabins and slimy bathrooms with greenie scrub pads and unscented cleaners.

    Sometime at the beginning of 1987, Lawry Woodcraft arrived, a licensed architect with restaurant experience, and Steve Kasaki, a general contractor. Lawry was appointed the “Ship Architect” and Steve the “Construction I/C”. The project really needed Lawry because there were some designs that proposed doorways through fire-walls, new elevators between steel decks, and other outlandish “no-can-do” design proposals. I remember Lawry’s input was often disregarded because his architectural training was WOG and therefore not valid on a Scientology ship. Of course I never said anything because I was a good little minion even though my training was WOG as well.

    Bitty Miscavige was the INT terminal who was running the whole Freewinds project. Upon the final approval of the designs, she set up an office in Miami with a couple of SO members who did the ordering of materials needed, and coordinated the shipments to the dock in Curaçao such as; wallpapers, window treatments, paints, light fixtures, custom carpets, custom bedding, chairs, and various building materials.

    The interior designers had proposed making some of the passenger cabins into suites, which required putting a doorway between cabins. The original ship blue-prints (in Swedish and Finnish) did not clearly indicate what was running through the walls (pipes, ductwork, wiring, etc.), so Steve and Lawry decided to knock down/take down a panel in one of these cabins to see what was there. I’m pretty sure I went with them that day because anywhere there were modifications being done; I was there with a measuring tape and sketch pad.

    This was the ill-fated day when asbestos was noticed, inside the wall, when the panel was removed. The interior structural steel and piping was covered with it. Lawry thought it might be blue asbestos, the most dangerous type. To me it looked grayish in color and covered the interior pipes/conduits as well. I recall the cabin was closed/sealed off until further testing could be done.

    The “testing” that followed occurred totally Co$/Sea Org style. Bitty Miscavige arrived on the ship and called a meeting of all involved in this part of the design phase. LRH policies and Flag Orders where searched for info about asbestos and how to handle it. A policy was located about fiberglass. I remembered learning in my WOG schooling that fiberglass and asbestos are two different materials even though often used for the same purposes.

    So it was decided, all fiberglass would be pulled off the ship. The solution created for the asbestos problem, that if any exposed during construction was wet down, it might not become airborne and travel through the ductwork and all over the ship. A crew of SO members was assigned to go around with water bottles spraying down the asbestos every time a ceiling or wall panel was taken down or modified. Everywhere, I saw crew members crawling through ceilings and walls pulling out chunks of fiberglass. Ceiling and wall panels were constantly removed to repair pipes that were constantly leaking, sometimes over newly installed carpeting. No-one ever wore masks or protective gear.

    Oh well, the Freewinds was an OT ship, little pieces of jagged fibers floating through the air, that could lodge forever in people’s lungs and cause cancer, was not going to stop TOTAL FREEDOM! (CASH FLOW TO THE CHURCH!)

    To speed up the renovations and to make the Maiden Voyage deadline, a WOG construction crew from England came to the ship. The “asbestos spray down crew” followed them around too. When this contracting company got wind (pun intended) of the blue asbestos, they left. See Lawry’s affidavit and video interview for more specifics.

    When my work as draftsman was done, I was posted in the engine room since I was an “engineer”. I didn’t know diddlysquat about diesel engines and boilers! No problem, I had lots of experience with engines on my whole track (I faked it).

    About a month before the Maiden Voyage in June 1988, I expressed my desire to leave the SO. Within a day or two I was flown to Flag for handling. That is a whole other story…

    The point of THIS story is, like everyone involved with the Freewinds, I denied that the asbestos was a problem. I think the only one who understood the severity of the contamination was Lawry, and feel he probably tried to make everyone understand the danger. LRH did not write anything about asbestos, which meant it was nothing to be concerned about. We were the Sea Org, we were Scientologists, we were at cause over MEST BRAINWASHED. So, I put it out of my mind, WAY out of my mind, no worries.

    Only when I recently decided to find out what is really going on with the Co$ these days, planet clearing and all that rot, did I come across the info all over the internet. I was appalled when I discovered and read Lawry’s affidavit. I hope my story here can help somehow. All these years have gone by and the asbestos remains a problem!

    I, along with so many others, have breathed the foul air of the Freewinds.
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 24, 2017
  2. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude

    “Asbestos is the name given to a group of naturally occurring mineral fibers once used in building materials for its thermal insulating properties and fire resistance.”
    What is asbestos? OSHA fact sheet

    It generally takes repeated, heavy exposure to asbestos in an occupational setting to be at risk for asbestos-related disease. Once asbestos fibers accumulate in the body, they can trigger a number of biological changes that may lead to mesothelioma.” – crocidolite (blue) asbestos info

    “Massive amounts of asbestos were used in shipbuilding and commercial construction prior to the mid-1970's. Anyone involved with those industries is at a high risk for developing an asbestos-related disease, including mesothelioma.”
    “Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that develops in the protective lining of the lungs, abdomen, and/or the cavity around the heart.”

    “In the early 1990s, the Navy started the process of selling dozens of obsolete ships for scrap materials. The dismantling of these contaminated vessels commonly occurs in depressed ports where no protective measures are taken and the vast majority of workers are not trained to handle asbestos”

    In this document you can review the EPA regulations in the handling of asbestos contamination and realize why the Freewinds is not registered in the USA, does not use any ports of call in the USA, and organizes renovations at docks with easy environmental regulations.
    United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Rules and Regulations Regarding the Demolition of Asbestos-Containing Structures

    These instructions/techniques for self removal of asbestos were NOT used aboard the Freewinds in order to avoid the cost of hiring a professional asbestos removal contractor.
    Procedures for Removing Asbestos

    Fiberglass (a manmade material) is DIFFERENT than asbestos (a mineral). Here is a comparison.

    Declaration of Freewinds’ architect, Lawrence Woodcraft
    Lawrence Woodcraft interview with Stacy Brooks
    Scientology Freewinds Cruise Ship Victims
  3. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude


    The bunk in my cabin aboard the Freewinds. Nice embroidered Sea Org logo on the blue satin bedspread. Too bad I didn’t spend much time sleeping there. A corner of a chair is in the bottom right corner of the pic which still had the avocado green of the previous décor.
    WATCH OUT! There is blue asbestos lurking behind those wall panels!

    The desk in my cabin. YES there are LRH books on the shelf above it. Think one of the pics on the wall was an LRH pic. Nice phone huh? It wasn’t a landline, only for on-ship calls. I think the blue spiral book on the desk was the “Able Bodied Seaman” course pack.

    Commodore Cruise Line was the owner of the ship Bohème which became the Freewinds when Majestic Cruise Line (I mean the Co$) bought it. This is a patch I’ve saved all these years and scanned for your viewing pleasure.

    In case you didn’t know, the logo painted on the smoke stacks of the Freewinds is the Majestic Cruise Line logo.

    Hey, why is that guy touching blue asbestos with his BEAR HANDS? Do not try this at home!

    This is what mesothelioma lesions look like in lungs.

    This gives me an itchy-scratchy feeling all over.
  4. Techless

    Techless Patron Meritorious

    Man! Have been reading all these OT and cancer 'per capita' connections prior to, and now this seems to be probably creepiest of all smoking guns...

    Thanks for info! Very interesting -
  5. Adam7986

    Adam7986 Declared SP

    My dad spent some time on the freewinds. Right before they threw me out of the house he almost died because his lungs weren't working properly COPD apparently. He laughed at the doctor's recommendations. After all, what does a stupid doctor know compared to an OT 3
  6. lkwdblds

    lkwdblds Crusader

    The incubation period for mesothelioma is quite long, about 25 years. 25 years ago was 1988, so those exposed in '86, '87 and '88 have reached and passed the incubation period. I wish all those people exposed good luck and hope they do not come down with the disease. If a lot of people do come down with it, there will be a huge rash of large lawsuits, suits in which C of S's religious exemptions won't be able to save them. It this happens, it could put an end to C of S. The amount of money they would have to pay out in settlements would be so much that even they would not be able to pay it.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  7. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    Thank you for that, it's very informative! I had heard about the asbestos and really thought it was health and safety gone mad type stuff. I mean we had tiles with asbestos in at my last block, it is no problem as long as they are not disturbed. There was asbestos in the attic too and a team of experts in white suits sealed the attic and vacuumed for days after removing the stuff in sealed bags. For weeks I couldn't be connected to a phone line until they had done their bit upstairs, everyone else not trained and not dressed in the sealed suits refused to go anywhere near it.

    You managed to jog my memory at that know best attitude, if LRH didn't write about it it's not true. He also never mentioned the ozone layer only rivers flowing with perfume oils, so no one had to worry about using chlorine bleach which Hubbard recommended, and avoid any perfumed product as they will destroy the planet. We cared about the planet, but if Hubbard didn't say it wasn't safe to walk into a nuclear reactor then it was safe. Misplaced trust.

    It's just incredible what idiots we were!
  8. LA SCN

    LA SCN NOT drinking the kool-aid

    Amen brother - I get embarrassed of myself sometimes just thinking what a maroon I was...
  9. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    The important thing is that we did eventually grow up. Don't be too hard on yourself!
  10. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude

    You hit the nail on the head! Unbelievable how so many smart and often well educated people have fallen for the crap since the inception of Dn & Scn. It IS INCREDIBLE what idiots we were… that we believed one guy had ALL the answers to life, the universe, and everything, AND he alone, wrote down everything we needed to know as well. Even more incredible is how this has perpetuated the abuses of people over the years. The individuals here at ESMB, the various expose Scn websites, and all the books I’ve read up to this point, have helped me understand why and how this could happen. :duh:
  11. La La Lou Lou

    La La Lou Lou Crusader

    The thing is that what was written in the fifties, sixties, seventies or eighties was true, so no matter how we discover that a vitamin is actually toxic, the purif can not be changed without 'squirrelling'. If we discovered that soup cans cause brain tumours if held for long enough no one would stop using them if Hubbard didn't say to use anything else. In the time since he kicked the bucket so much has become known about the workings of the brain, yet a good scientologist is compelled to think a brain is some kind of shock absorber. No matter how much research shows how sleepless night can damage a person SO members will continue to work through the night at some seniors whim.

    In twenty thousand years scientologists (I doubt there will be any!) will still be living as if it's 1986, the rest of the world will have progressed with mind tech that actually works, food tech that keeps bodies well for centuries, powers that make an OT look like a mollusc and people will be amazingly healthy and happy, except the scientologists miserably carrying on in Hubbard's image. By the way they'll still be waiting for the second coming.
  12. LA SCN

    LA SCN NOT drinking the kool-aid

    More than anything our experience, to me anyway, points up just how dangerous it is to be pre-judiced to a person or philosophy and how damaging the resulting blind spot can be. Cognitive dissonance was a Godsend.
  13. Loohan

    Loohan Am I Mettaya?

    I remember how shocked i was in 1986 at The Complex in LA, on the Religious Fiefdom Crusade.
    The water in the cafeteria was totally unfiltered, presumably fluoridated, city water! All the water used in coffee, cooking, etc. Tasted nasty, too.
    Because LRH never wrote about fluoride, presumably. Of course, fluoride calcifies the pineal gland (and hence "OT" abilities), renders slaves tractable, etc.
    I mean how much would it have cost to put a decent filter system on the water line?
  14. lkwdblds

    lkwdblds Crusader

    After leaving the S.O. in Dec, 1973, I immediately started working in home remodeling construction at my Dad's business in Southern California, my first day there was Dec 11, 1973. I took over the business and got my own contractor's license in 1993 and retired fairly recently in 2011.

    Back in the 70's, there were no phobias concerning asbestos. A lot of homes had asbestos floor tiles and heating and air conditioning pipes in the attic were wrapped with asbestos. The biggest use of all was the application of asbestos on ceilings. Most of us are familiar with the "acoustical ceiling" which is white and has a texture which resembles popcorn. That type of ceiling was applied everywhere and its purpose was as a sound deadening agent. Many restaurants used it to hold down noise as did some office buildings. Some people even thought it looked better and more modern than just painting a ceiling.

    Most customers wanted acoustic applied to their ceilings and we did it at no cost; actually it saved us money because applying that acoustic spray was less costly than painting.

    In remodeling homes, we would usually have to tie in to an acoustic ceiling. Either our carpenters did the demolition, often wearing a small cloth mask and wearing goggles to protect their eyes or if the job was a large job, usually a demo and clean up company was brought in to do the work and in So Cal probably 90% of those removing asbestos ceilings were Latinos. Sometimes I worry about these workers now coming down with mesothelioma but fortunately a technique was developed to remove the "popcorn", as it was called, which probably will end up saving the lives of all these workers.

    What was done was to first wet the ceiling thoroughly and then tack up a sheet of plastic underneath the acoustic ceiling, the full width of the room. Next, a workman would take a scrapping tool with a long handle and a sharp blade and insert it into the wet asbestos at one end of the room. With proper blade placements and a little pressure, huge sections of wet asbestos would break off and fall into the sheets. The sheets were then tied up and carted away to the regular city dump. The thorough wetting process was key because it prevented the disturbed asbestos particles from becoming airborne; at the time no one knew of the health risks of asbestos but just scrapping off dry asbestos created difficulty in breathing and irritated the eyes so the above technique was developed. As it turned out, that technique probably saved the lives of tens of thousands of construction workers over the decades.

    I don't remember precisely when they showed up but I believe it was the late 1980's. Contractor's were notified that before any demolition took place, certain surfaces had to be tested for asbestos. Testing was cheap, originally only $25 per sample; we'd scrape a teaspoon full into a plastic bag and take it to a nearby lab. The vast majority of homes in the Long Beach, CA area tested positive for asbestos ceilings and the cost of the treatment was astronomical. As I recall, one 10' X 12' bedroom cost $600 in 1980's money. A whole house would cost $4,000 to $5000 while just bringing in a demo and haul away company, a room would cost $50 and a house, maybe $250.

    I remember hiring an official asbestos company only one time. The crew looked like astronauts in space age suits, their trucks were futuristic looking. The debris came out of the house through a large vacum system into special containers and it was a crime to take the debris to a standard dump, it had to go to a special certified refuse station. Of our competitors, some were licensed and some were unlicensed. Of course the unlicensed competitors totally ignored the new laws but it turned out that none of the licensed contractors were paying the big bucks to bring in the boys in the astronaut suits.

    Contractors figured out a solution which homeowners were only too happy to agree to. Contractor's would make asbestos removal a "By Owner" option. The homeowners only gripe was that they didn't know who to call. Some contractors would give them the phone numbers of their demo companies and told them to deal directly. Of course I would never do that. The fines, if contractors removed asbestos themselves without using certified removers, were astronomical. $25,000 was the minimum fine, and also one's license would be suspended. The tactic of having the homeowner do asbestos removal worked because the removal was done before the job ever started thus when the city inspector showed up for the first time to approve the pouring of the foundation, he could not tell that an acoustic ceiling had ever been there.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  15. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude

    About the incubation period of mesothelioma, you mention about 25 years, there is further info about that in the links I provided at the beginning of this thread. It’s a good start for research on this subject. Google asbestos and mesothelioma and there is LOTS of info out there.
  16. aegerprimo

    aegerprimo Summa Cum Laude

    :omg:Interesting that even here in the USA with EPA and OSHA regulations, that businesses find a way around them, all to make $$. Just WOW to the “By Owner” asbestos removal option you mention. It is my opinion that the Co$, by having the Freewinds outside the USA and under Panama flag, and under the guise of a “church” that it can stay outside of EPA and OSHA regulations. Top that off that they have used their own “slave labor” to do the dirty work.
  17. Leon

    Leon Gold Meritorious Patron

    My first job after leaving school was to be an assistant to the mine geologist on an asbestos mine up in what was then the British colony of Southern Rhodesia. This was 1964. About half my day was spent underground and the afternoons in the planning office. I worked there (training) for two months and then shifted over to Havelock Mine in Swaziland, it being part of the same company.

    Anyway, in those days there was some talk of the fibres being bad for you, though no one was quite sure. Underground in Swaziland it was generally quite damp as there was a lot of underground water and so airborne stuff was not an issue, but once the rock had been brought up to the mill and crushed, my gawd there was dust everywhere. The official remedy prescribed by the mine doctor - a part time fella - was to grow a big bushy mustache! I never worked in the mill myself but you'ld see them after work with their mustaches all covered in white asbestos just from what was floating about in the air.

    Lord only knows what happened to them eventually. I left after one year.

    Mind you that was white long-fibre chrysotile asbestos mainly woven into asbestos cloth. The Crocidolite short fibre stuff came from the northern Cape area of South Africa, which is where it got its name of "Cape Blue Asbestos" from.
  18. lkwdblds

    lkwdblds Crusader

    The way around government regulations wasn't done just to save money. It was done to survive and put food on the table for our families. In the late 80's a bedroom and bath room addition was running around $30,000 retail price. If everything went right, a contractor would project a gross profit of between $8,000 to 12,000 and maybe a net profit after paying his overhead of $3-5,000. Seldom did we make our projected goals; there were always unexpected overruns which would eat up at least 20% of the gross. If a contractor spent $5,000 more just to remove some asbestos which others would do for only $250, there was no way that he could take that $5K out of his profits so he had to up his bid to $35K and if he did that he would simply price himself out of the market and would not get any jobs!

    Virtually all general contractors who specialize in home remodeling are "mom and pop" operations and are not well funded, they usually live job to job and if something big goes wrong their only source to get money to make it through a crisis is to take out a 2nd mortgage on their home. If the home already had a 2nd mortgage, about the only options left were an appeal to relatives for help or else borrowing "hard" money at extremely high interest rates from loan sharks. If a contractor was a Scientologist, as I was up until about 2002, there was also the demand to buy your bridge and your wife's bridge and donate to the IAS in the children's names in addition to just the general challenges presented by running a business.

    As regards the Freewinds, your observations above are totally correct.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
  19. CO2

    CO2 Patron Meritorious

    ask yourself, what would Scarlett do?