I was the Mechanics Chief Freewinds for 16 years, from the day the Church took possession of the vessel until May of 2002, when I was basically declared dead after testing positive for HIV which I got 13 years earlier from a blood transfusion in Curacao, the ship's home port.
But that is another story. To try to see one's family while on the ship is virtually impossible. It is considered out-ethics to even want to see one's family. In early 2002, after 7 years with no LOAs (Leave of Absence) I made the outrageous request to be allowed to go to my parent's 50th wedding anniversary celebration. I had seen no member of my family in 7 years. It would have been grossly out-PR for the Church not to allow me to go. I am the only Scientologist in my family. I sent in the standard CSW months in advance showing how my post would be covered, etc. I got no answer — the typical response. They figure, not totally incorrectly, that eventually you will give up wanting to see your family. But as I was under a lot of pressure to get this handled, I had to do something. So I finally sent a petition to ED INT to get a leave.
Now, a petition to ED INT should only be necessary when a person wants more than the "standard" 3 weeks leave but I couldn't get a reply from anyone else.
As an aside, for years I used to tell others on the ship that the only way to get off the ship was "in a box." Indeed, that is about how I ended up getting off.
Now, my stats were up, my FO-38 (reference to the Flag Order 38 that lays out Sea Org etiquette) was always in and I tried not to make waves. After all, if one screws up in the SO, one is basically "dead forever". I got a comm from ED INT's Communicator telling me that since I only wanted 3 weeks off, it was not a matter for ED INT and I should just CSW my local org, which I had been doing already for 5 months. So, that did not work.
My senior told me to to write the RTC Rep and I did. After staff meeting the next day I was called up to the Captain's office along with my wife, my senior, the Chief Officer and the Chief Engineer. The Captain started by telling us all that we should listen to what he had to say carefully as this would save us a lot of grief later. He then launched into a tirade against my wife (wrong target) for starting this "reunion shit." He then screamed at the top of his lungs (or so I thought at the time) "I DON'T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT FAMILY." I didn't realize at the time, but he was just getting warmed up. The meeting broke up and I had the treasonous idea to follow the LRH reference, HCO PL (Hubbard Communications Office Policy Letter) “Job Endangerment Chits” in which LRH states "If one is threatened for writing a Job Endangerment Chit, one then writes a second chit based on the threat.”
I retired to my computer and wrote another report to the RTC Rep outlining the above. Still nothing happened… except I was put on the Restricted List meaning that I could not even go on the dock without a security guard to escort me.
Time had just about run out and now, with no way out, after 23 years in the Sea Org, first at FSO and then at the Freewinds, and suffering from a life-threatening physically illness, I was becoming suicidal. I decided that the only way out was to fry myself on the high-power 380 volt electrical buss bars that supply the ship's power. I could handle the abuse to me by the org, but I could not handle being forced to harm my own family. By the way, one of my cabin mates was Jorge Arroyo, who I heard from Marty’s site hanged himself last year on the ship.
I was then hauled into HCO for an interrogation on the meter with the Dir I and R. We were obviously being watched, as notes would be shoved under the door from time to time. Finally the door opened and Tamara Cippoli, the CMO CJU (Commodore’s Messenger Org, Crackerjack Unit) auditor ordered the Dir I and R out. She took over the interrogation and eventually found out about the suicide plan. The interview ended.
The next day I finally got my CSW back from the Chief Engineer. My leave was disapproved because "FSSO ‘Bodies in the Shop’ were down." (Bodies in the Shop or BIS is the number of public in the FSSO org on services — wholly irrelevant to a LOA requested by the Mechanics Chief — I ran the engine room!)
I was told to resubmit when there were more Bodies in the Shop. I didn't even work for FSSO. Had there been more Bodies in the Shop the leave would have been disapproved for that reason as when there are a lot of people in the org, the engineers are off post serving in the dining rooms and the Engineering Section would be undermanned.
Now time had run out, it was the day before the anniversary party. I had reluctantly thought of blowing and coming back to face the music but it was now too late. Withe the guards and cameras and the fact that they were keeping my passport there was no escape. I had sent a comm to the person at the Relay Office who arranges flights in case I could get off to find me a ticket. It was Friday night staff meeting and after the staff meeting broke up the phone rang. The Captain answered it. It was the person who had arranged my ticket. After I talked to him and hung up the Captain said that in 15 years in the Sea Org no one had talked to him like that. (He was clearly referring to his conversation with the RTC Rep where the RTC rep had apparently ripped into him.)
Pointing to his Captain's bars he shouted at the top of his lungs " I AM THE ONLY RIGHT ARM CAPTAIN IN THE SEA ORG AND NOBODY CAN TELL ME WHAT TO DO! Well, one person could…” (apparently meaning COB) “BUT HE WOULD NEVER DO IT."
Obviously LRH, who wrote the policy on Leaves of Absences could not tell Captain Napier what to do either.
I managed to get 10 days off and came back. Had I known then as I found out a month after returning from leave that I had HIV I could have saved all the trouble as I was removed from the vessel and beached in LA without even being told by ship's medical personnel that I had tested positive.
I haven't been back since but I did leave a message for the Port Captain after I was no longer allowed to talk to anyone as soon as the receptionist recognized my voice. The message I left was "I'll be back" like Arnold Schwarzenegger said it in "The Terminator." I would like to go back at some point just to see the look on the Captain's face when he sees me alive. After all, We Come Back.
Not only is the above a gross violation of human rights, it is also a violation of human trafficking laws. Human trafficking is not only about send staff off to far flung places without their consent, it is about detaining them against their will.
Former Mechanics Chief Freewinds