I was just walking around Vancouver the other day, when something caught my eye in one of the storefronts. Being an avid enthusiast of all things ships, I was interested in the poster of an older ship. As it turns out, the storefront was the Church of Scientologist, and the ship was the Freewinds. The Freewinds is an older ship, formerly operated by Commodore Cruise line, but currently sits idle pier side due to major health concerns from “blue asbestos” commonly used on ships of this vintage, especially in engine rooms.
They use this ship as a training ship for high level preacher training or something like that. Anyways you can learn more about Scientology and the ship at Wikipedia. Makes for interesting reading.
Mr Hubbard, creator of the Church, is reportedly an avid fan of the sea, and as called himself Commodore of the fleet. Apparently the Church has operated several vessels since 1968, under the auspice of Sea Org, check out the related Wiki entries for more entertaining reading.
…and in other news
In a sort of similar story, in so far as organizations using “retired” cruise ships for their mission, I read that the Pacific Clipper was arrested, and subsequently released after a bond was paid, in Alaska for suspicious OWS activities and other SOLAS improprieties just this past September. The is the second time this year that the ship has been under scrutiny by American officials. The last time, was in New York following some hull damage and Solas improprieties. Perhaps “Peaceboat” painted on the side has drawn the ire of the US.
The Pacific Clipper is the former RCCL Song of Norway, the cruise line’s first ship as a matter of fact. It was purchased by Florida based ISP, after a series of mishaps in the Eastern Mediterranean, and place under charter to Peaceboat, a Japan based, non governmental organization with the aims of abolishing war.