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Saturday, 22 December 2012
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The Overboard Ceremony

I suppose there has already been some stuff written about this, but I thought I would fill in some of the early details.

We were in Corfu, autumn of 1968.

Sitting in Diana's office with Hana, Hubbard came by. He was quite chatty and looking forward to the forthcoming Class 8 course. During the conversation he said " Well, whenever they flunk a session, we will throw them overboard". We all laughed, but Hubbard never laughed with his eyes. It leftm us with a question mark over the statement. Was he kidding? Or was he serious?.

Funnily enough, in the same conversation, I remarked about some members of the public simply joining staff to get free processing and training and then leaving. I caller them Freeloaders. Hubbard said that was a good way of describing them and he would use it.

Sorry, folks!

Anyway, the Class 8 course had 3 MAA's, Craig DeFan, Ollie Budlong and Rod Taunton. They were photographed and features in an Auditor edition at that time.

The students, having been summoned to the ship were in a range of emotion from indifference to outright terror. They were made to wear bright green overalls, brown open toed sandals and had to wear a running noose around their neck.

As an indication of how cowed down they were, an old friend from St Hill, Fred Fairchild - he had come from Dertoit Org, had a beard. I happened to remark that I thought he looked much better without the beard. The next morning he came down clean shaven. I asked what had happened to the beard. He thought that my friendly and innocent enquiry was an instruction, so he had shaved it off.

The MAA's went right into the Nazi identity. The next morning all the students were mustered on the aft well deck. A name was called and the person stepped forward and told he/or she had flunked a session. They were bodily picked up and thrown over the side. It was about 30ft drop into the harbour.

A mantra was shouted " We commit your errors to the deep and trust you will arise a better person."

Whilst the overboard ceremony was going on, Hubbard was two decks up redording the incident on his cine camera.

The same ceremony was applied to the staff as well, usually for some (henious) transgression soch as ordering some equipment without FP approval.

Along the side of the ship was a rubbing strake. The person had to be thrown out sufficiently far as to avoid it, or it could easily result in death.

There was a rule, If the overboardee touched the side of the ship on the way down, the Officer in charge of the ceremony immediately got thrown overboard too. Therefore you tried to hit out with your hand or foot so you could get that bastard thrown over as well.

There were degrees of overboard. Firstly there was simple overboard. Then we had overboard blindfolded, there was overboard with either feet or hands tied. The most extreme was being tied and blindfolded going overboard.

It didn't matter if you could swim or not. You were screamed at to "make things go right". You made your way along the side of the ship and clambered in through the cattle door at the side.

I have seen people in absolute terror, panicking in the water. On a couple of occasions we defied the MAA's and dived in to rescue the person. The punishment was a double overboard, one after the other.

The most disorienting one I had was being thrown over blindfolded. You could not accurately anticipate the moment of impact.

And of course, Hubbard was up there, every morning watching and more often than not cine recording it.

When the class 8 course finished, the students returned to their various orgs. They adapted the overboard ceremony according to local conditions. This could be immersing them in a cold bath to putting their head down the toilet and flushing it. Students had to wear green vests and a rope noose.

Once the students had departed, Hubbard got really vicious with the overboards. John MacMaster, the first clear and a real international celebrity was on the ship. Hubbard clearly saw him as a threat to his own self-importance. John was a charasmatic speaker. He could talk about affinity to a whole theatre of people and there would not be a dry eye in the house. John was a superb auditor and was responsible for the development of Power Processing.

The problem was that John was gay. Hubbard had an absolute loathing for any homosexual man or woman (or coloured person in fact) and set out to destroy John.He assigned John as a galley hand, clearing up the aftermess etc. He has John thrown overboard blindfolded and his feet tied together, on more than one occasion.

More than one of us have heard Hubbard say" I hope the damn faggot drowns"
as John went over the side. I spoke with John years later, before he passed away. He bore Hubbard no grudge for the inhumane way he was treated.

I trust that this fills in some gaps for you on what you might have heard about these events.

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