What is the Freewinds and Why do Scientologists Celebrate its Maiden Voyage on June 6?
According to the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard stipulated that the highest levels of advancement in Scientology should be “delivered in a distraction-free environment, off the crossroads of the day-to-day world.” Which was why Scientology ecclesiastical leader David Miscavige selected the Freewinds to serve as the church’s seagoing religious retreat.
As we discovered in our earlier coverage of the Freewinds, the cruise ship was first built in 1968 in Turku, Finland, for Wallenuis Lines. As of July 2018 when we last covered the story, the ship had logged more than 380,000 nautical miles.
Each year before the pandemic, Mr. Miscavige led a week-long convocation attended by the most advanced Scientologists. One article on the Scientology website describes them as ambassadors representing congregations from Scientology churches around the world, selected based on their “driving expansion of the religion through the founding of new Churches of Scientology in their geographic zones.” They meet aboard the ship for a week each June to review the past year’s progress toward accomplishing the humanitarian and expansion goals of the church.
The Freewinds is designated by the United Nations International Maritime Organization as an official training platform.
She has also been recognized and acknowledged by island port and civic officials, national police and military services in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador for her assistance to their communities.
It was on the Freewinds Maiden Voyage anniversary cruise on June 23, 2018, when it docked at Bridgetown, Barbados, that National Colombian Police Inspector General Carlos Ramiro Mena Bravo presented David Miscavige with the prestigious Brigadier General Jaime Ramírez Gómez Inspector General Transparency Medal from the National Colombian Police, acknowledging Miscavige for his “courage, bravery and honesty,” and the various efforts he spearheaded to better Colombian society.
Long known in ports she visits throughout the Caribbean and Latin America as the church’s “humanitarian ship,” the Freewinds’ work in Aruba, where she was docked when the pandemic was announced in 2020, outstripped earlier efforts.
The Church describes that with a complete lockdown on all international incoming tourists, the island’s lifeblood, the Freewinds launched an all-Aruba initiative, distributing educational booklets on how to stay well to every resident of the island. Freewinds Volunteer Ministers teamed up with Aruba’s Fire Brigade to implement government protocols island-wide, sanitizing every public school on the island to the benefit of some 26,000 students, and decontaminating more than 4 million square feet of public spaces. In fact, the Aruba Minister of Tourism and Public Health credited the work of the Freewinds with enabling “Aruba to reopen its borders to tourism.”
Although the Freewinds has continued to provide religious services throughout the pandemic without the mishaps experienced by other ships (presumably because of their own adoption of the same protocols the ship shared with Aruba), the annual Maiden Voyage convocation has not been held for the past few years and does not appear to have resumed yet this year.
In the past, it has been during the annual Maiden Voyage celebration that David Miscavige has announced some of the church’s most far-reaching developments. For example, in 2007 a special Maiden Voyage anniversary (held that year at the religion’s spiritual headquarters in Clearwater, Florida, to accommodate the sheer scope of the project), David Miscavige released the Basic Books and Lectures of Scientology and Dianetics in 16 languages. This release was the culmination of “a five-year, 2-million-man-hour research project to ensure the purity of all Scientology Scripture.” Mr. Miscavige described the work done to verify every last word of these materials, “correcting any errors or deviations and returning them to their original unadulterated form.”
Two years later, on the anniversary of the Maiden Voyage, Mr. Miscavige released the Dianetics films. These films make it possible for all Scientology churches, missions and Dianetics groups to introduce their communities to the gains available through Dianetics counseling in a simple one-weekend seminar. What’s more, with the Dianetics book and films now available in 50 languages, virtually anyone may team up with another interested in the subject and gain a step-by-step understanding, allowing them to immediately start applying Dianetics with each other.
To capture the excitement of a Maiden Voyage cruise aboard the Freewinds, Scientology TV Network recommends watching the film Destination: Scientology—The Freewinds, airing at DIRECTV channel 320 and streaming at Scientology.TV. This way, anyone may join Scientologists in celebrating this auspicious anniversary.