When I was introduced to Scientology in 1964 it was called The Hubbard Association of Scientologists (HASI). I attended an introductory lecture and later did some of the basic courses. I was very impressed and later signed up for The Hubbard Professional Auditors Course.
At the time I thought there was nothing like it in the Western World. It was about the philosophy of spirituality, of love and of friendship.
I was so impressed with the information that when I was asked to join staff by the head of the organisation, Alison Parkhouse, at that time I joined without any hesitation and signed a contract for 2 ½ years. Much to the disgust of family and friends I gave up my profession and worked for a few cents a week. The course room was packed with students learning about Hubbard’s philosophy and really having a ball.
From around 1964 Hubbard introduced his ethics policies, and in my opinion that was the beginning of the demise of Scientology (although I did not realize it at the time). There were many policies he wrote about ethics and the ethics conditions and the formulas on how to get yourself out of these conditions. You may read about Hubbard’s ethics at this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics_(Scientology)
Maybe there is some truth in what he wrote but my experience with it was nothing short of abuse especially when put into the hands of uncaring people. I visited Scientology Organisations in many parts of the world and I found none who liked these policies especially their formulas and penalties.
Organisations I visited were Malmo, Gothenburg, Stockholm in Sweden, and Copenhagen in Denmark. Then there were Lubeck in Germany, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria in South Africa and Bulawayo in Zimbabwe. My own experience was that it was degrading. Often when a senior executive was angry with an individual he or she would put you in a lowered condition to suit their own egos.
Hubbard became quite fanatical about his philosophy at the time and ordered the executives of organisations around the world to lengthen the evening training classes from 3 to 5 evenings per week and weekend courses to run the entire weekend. He wrote a short article called “5 YEARS” IN WHICH HE STATED THE WORLD ONLY HAD 5 YEARS LEFT BEFORE NUCLEAR WAR WAS DECLARED BY THE SOVIET UNION AND THE UNITED STATES AND THAT SCIENTOLOGY WAS THE ONLY HELP FOR THE WORLD.
Students were forced to attend courses 5 evenings per week which upset them as they say they had no family time left. There were some quite distinguished people, people in good positions in the work place, who could not always attend course or their counselling sessions.
And then an “ethics officer” was appointed to staff according to the new policies Hubbard had written and all hell broke loose. He started applying the ethics procedures to staff and public. Staff members were declared suppressive and kicked out and those who could not attend class 5 nights per week or attend their counselling sessions were declared suppressive. My best friend at the time who I had brought into Scientology recently got married and was on honeymoon, he was declared because he was unable to attend class. The results were that the course room started emptying out and the once friendly public became hostile. This affected the income of the organisation and my pay dropped to a few cents per week. I became the only technical person in the organisation able to deliver services to the public which made it very stressful for me. The organisation could no longer afford the lovely premises they were in and they had to find alternate cheaper premises. My family was very upset with me as they had to support me. This all happened at the Cape Town Organization around 1965 – 66. Even the press started getting hostile with bad articles. I became extremely unhappy with this ethics rubbish. When my contract expired in 1966 I left Cape Town organisation and found a job in my profession in the printing industry to earn some money.
I was still very interested in the philosophy of Scientology and when I was informed of the newly formed Sea Organisation I joined it in 1968 at the Advanced Organisation in Alicante Spain. I thought that this ethics nonsense would be discontinued or not abused as much as it was in Cape Town because I thought I was going to a higher level organisation, BUT OH MY GOODNESS, WAS I WRONG.
The first 3 months of my new career in the sea organization at the advanced organization in Alicante, Spain was absolutely brilliant. Lots of friendly students from around the world, and the staff were amazing and friendly. The commanding officer, a South African was quite level headed and social and did not mess around with this ethics stuff. This was however short lived as instructions from Hubbard were to close that organization down and open a new advanced organization in Edinburgh, Scotland as we were informed the authorities in Spain were about to raid us, I never knew the reason. I was assigned the task of getting all the students, of which there were around a hundred, transferred to Edinburgh which I arranged flights for. I hired a car and drove all the course materials to Edinburgh with the help of a colleague.
On my return from Edinburgh I was assigned as a crew member on the Station Ship Avon River (later renamed the Athena) a small steam boat weighing around 500 tons. I arrived on the boat fairly late and after filling in all the papers required of a crew member on a ship I got to bed at around 3 AM.
Later that morning at around 5:15 AM I was awoken by a 15 year old kid named Peter Gilham who informed me that I was scheduled to take the next quarter master watch. I had no idea what this was about but he gave me a briefing of what was required and showed me around the ship. I was still very groggy as I was still exhausted from the previous day and as I did not have enough sleep. I was quite astounded when being shown around the decks as there were young girls, must have been around 16 or 17, chipping the rust off the decks and themselves more than half asleep and battling to stay awake. It occurred to me that this ethics “stuff” has not gone away I was absolutely disgusted. I was then given a broken pair of old overalls to put on and at 6:00 AM started my QM watch.
At 9:00 AM that morning a beautiful girl named Nicki Freidman came up to me and assigned me a condition of NON-EXISTENCE FOR WEARING AN OLD PAIR OF OVERALLS while on quarter master watch and ordered me to report to the Master at Arms (Ethics Officer on dry land).
There are penalties that you need to perform while in a lowered condition. The lowered conditions are as follows with the penalty of hard labour as follows:
- Non-Existence – 24 Hours Hard Labour with no sleep
- Liability – 48 Hours Hard Labour with no sleep
- Doubt – 72 Hours Hard Labour with no sleep
- Enemy – Put into the chain locker and do the formula
- Treason – Similar to above
- Confusion – Similar to above
So I was assigned the task of painting the bridge of the ship for the next 24 hours and was not permitted to eat with the crew. After performing my penalty I went to bed and slept until the next morning. The next day I was assigned to the engine room as a greaser, which had the task of oiling and greasing the machinery. I had no experience of steam ships but started learning fast. It was a few days as we prepared the ship to sail and we received orders to sail to an unknown destination.
We set sail for Melilla and then were told our next port of call would be Bizerte in Tunisia North Africa. During this trip we had tremendous problems with the engine and the rings of the 1st high pressure piston disintegrated. We had other problems with heat but we eventually arrived in Bizerte and we were all exhausted. The captain in the meantime assigned the engine room a condition of doubt with its penalties and we had to work to repair the broken piston for the next 72 hours without sleep and were not permitted to leave the engine room. We were not permitted to bathe either. We became filthy dirty and absolutely exhausted.
The Flag Ship Royal Scotman, later named the Apollo was due to arrive in Bizerte later with the commodore L Ron Hubbard aboard. Hubbard eventually arrived on his much larger ship with his crew and when he heard about our experience in the engine room, he recalled our chief engineer to his ship to face a committee of evidence with a charge of “CRIMINAL NEGLECT TO THE ENGINES OF THE FLOTILLA”.
I was then assigned the post of Chief Engineer by the captain. The next day the Commodore sent a messenger over to me to ask me “when will I have the engine ready as he needed us to sail urgently”. I was still totally ignorant of the workings and the engine as it was partially dismantled so I informed the messenger to tell Hubbard that “we could probably sail in a couple of days if he sent me someone who knew what was going on”. So he returned the chief back to us and we fixed the engines and set sail for Corfu Greece.
After our arrival in Corfu the Flag Ship was already there and we docked close to her. There was a lot going on and we were going to build a university of Scientology on the island which would be the headquarters for Scientology world-wide. This would have brought a lot of money to the small poor island. From my view, Hubbard was undergoing a change of personality and was no longer this loving philosopher from St Hill East Grinstead Sussex, England. He started becoming a grouchy screaming commander of his ship and had everyone terrified of him when he became angry. He even wrote somewhere that “WHEN I BECOME ANGRY I CAN MAKE CAPTAIN BLIGH LOOK LIKE A SUNDAY SCOOL TEACHER”.
Hubbard later released a new course called the class 8 course. Students started arriving from all over the world to do this new course. But they had no idea what they were letting themselves in for, the penalty for making a mistake was that you would be thrown overboard.
The Apollo was a 3,500 ton ferry with a flat bottom and a rubbing stake all around the bottom of the ship and maybe as high as 30 feet from where terrified students would be thrown if they made a mistake.
From our vantage point on our smaller ship we watched students being thrown overboard from a dizzy and dangerous height for mistakes they had made. Some of these students could not swim and a life buoy was put around them making it even more dangerous. If by any chance you hit the rubbing stake you may have been badly injured or even killed.
I was never in favour of this practice and thoroughly condemned it. My “wife” at that time was thrown overboard and she told me she was absolutely terrified – . Pictures of these overboards were even printed in the local press. Around 8 months later we were advised by the Greek Authorities that we were no longer welcome in Greece and were told to leave Corfu, probably in part, due to this vicious and savage practice of throwing people overboard.
Mentioning “my wife” – Peggie. (Formerly known as Peggie Bull. Later she married Nick Labuschagne in South Africa). We were married on the flag ship by Captain Norman Starkey but the papers were never sent to Panama where the ship was registered so the marriage was never registered. We never knew we were not legally married – something I only found out 7 years later. .
We were assigned a new Captain named Stella King and also received a new chief engineer, John O’Keefe with myself as 1st engineer and we set sail for Copenhagen with a staff to set up a new advanced organisation in that country. We docked in Naples and dropped of the staff for the new advanced organisation to be created in Copenhagen and we sailed the next morning for Copenhagen.
The trip was mostly uneventful except the hydraulic steering gear burst and we had to weld some pipes together. This resulted because Hubbard gave instructions to change the old rudder and put another bigger rudder on which put more strain on the steering gear.
We arrived in Denmark about a week later and docked in Helsingborg and later sailed on to Copenhagen and our mission was to oversee the well-being of the new organisations in Copenhagen and Sweden. We did a lot of sailing around between Malmo in Sweden and Copenhagen. Our chief engineer then left with his wife and I was assigned to that post, but by this time I knew the engines thoroughly.
Our new captain on a voyage to Malmo in Sweden ran the ship aground on the way back to Copenhagen. In the process she holed one of the fuel tanks which caused severe problems in the engine room but I managed to contain the damage however we had to go into dry dock to have the tanks repaired. This was the 2nd time she ran the ship aground. She was recalled to flag but was sent back later.
THE DAY I SAVED THE LIVES OF 40 CREW MEMBERS
The mission of the ship was to ensure the viability of the organisations in Sweden, Denmark & Germany. We needed to get 2 staff members trained up on The Flag Executive Briefing Course for the Denmark Continental Organisation and I was appointed as the Commanding Officer to run that organisation while the 2 staff members went to the flag ship for training. I ran that organisation for around 3 months until the 2 trained staff completed their training and returned.
After returning to the ship I found the old captain was replaced by a new captain named Mitch Spence (now deceased) and there was also a new chief engineer. I was appointed as chief officer. I was informed by the new captain that we would be setting sail for Germany the next morning. I got the ship ready for sailing and the next morning we set sail.
I had a lot of experience on the Athena and knew her quite well. The weather was not good that morning, ranging at about a force 5 on the Beaufort scale however the Athena was built for that weather and there was nothing to worry about. After about an hour or so out in the Baltic Sea the weather started deteriorating and it was now a force 7 bordering on a force 8. I was still not concerned but I started hearing a knocking sound coming from the engine room. She was a steam ship with a triple expansion steam engine weighing around 500 tons and she used bunker fuel to heat the boiler.
I went down to the engine room and located the knocking sound and found it was the fuel pump which pumped the fuel into the 3 fires to keep the boiler making steam which ran the engine under high pressure, it was behaving very erratically. I was not concerned as there was a 2nd backup pump so I changed over to that pump. But the 2nd pump also started playing up which really concerned me. By this time the weather was at a force 9 and virtually a storm and I became seriously concerned as if the pump backed up the ship and all its crew would be in grave danger.
I immediately informed the captain that we must change course and return to Copenhagen or risk sinking the ship in this vicious storm with all the crew. The captain immediately changed course and we set sail for Copenhagen. I returned to the engine room and took charge and nursed the pumps oiling the shaft regularly but that pump eventually packed up so I changed back to the first pump and nursed it until we arrived back at port. After docking that pump also packed up. If I was not on board and had the experience I had that ship could have gotten into serious trouble and we could have quite possibly have lost her and all the crew. I had the pumps repaired by an engineering company in Copenhagen
THE HIJACKING OF THE COMMODORE QUEEN
We undertook another PR cruise to Stockholm as we had an organisation there and we wanted to see how it was doing and see if they needed any assistance. Flag sent Bill Robertson (known as Captain Bill) to take over the reigns in Europe and supervise all the organisations on the continent. He was appointed Continental Captain thus relieving the ship’s captain of that duty.
After a few days Mitch our new captain received a message from Captain Bill that I must immediately catch a flight to France and meet him in Cherbourg as he had an important assignment for me. Well I quickly packed a suitcase and took a taxi to Stockholm airport and boarded a flight to Paris and later a train to Cherbourg. I arrived late that evening and Captain Bill was waiting to meet me and we then took a taxi to the military harbour in Cherbourg where the British station ship “Commodore Queen” was berthed in dry dock.
I was immediately appointed captain of the ship and ordered to take responsibility for her re-fit by the harbour workforce. Bill then left and returned to Copenhagen to carry out his responsibilities but returned every now and then to see how things were going. Then one day a mission arrived from flag consisting of Wally Burgess and Art Web. Wally was one of my ex captains from the Athena and I knew him well, a very nice guy and we got on very well. His first words to me were, “Travers!! What the hell has he done” (referring to Captain Bill). I asked why and they informed me that Captain Bill had gone over to England and hijacked the boat, sailed it across the channel to Cherbourg and there was hell to pay at flag. Now the reason the ship was in dry dock was because while captain Bill left the harbour in England, the ship started taking on water and started sinking as there were holes in the hull, so he radioed the port authorities in Cherbourg to prepare the dry dock. I was relieved of my command by Wally who took over the captaincy and we then re-floated the ship.
I then to Stockholm and Wally and Art were instructed to sail the ship back to England where the authorities confiscated the ship. Captain Bill was ordered back to flag where he was to be comm eve’d by orders of the staff captain. In his write up Captain Bill said he had to take the ship out of England as it was his responsibility as Continental Captain EU after hearing that the authorities were going to confiscate the ship.
LIFE CARRIES ON ABOARD
After returning to Stockholm we sailed back to Copenhagen and I was transferred to the Flag Ship which was docked in Madeira, a Portuguese island off the coast of Africa.
I was then put on the flag internship to further my training as an auditor and in the process counselled many of the staff and crew clearing up their upsets etc. My then wife Peggie had 2 children back in South Africa who needed attention and we obtained a leave of absence for a year and came back to South Africa. After a year we went back to Portugal and joined up with flag once again.
LRH was not aboard the flag ship at the time and I was assigned the post of ships programs chief. This post put me in charge of all the ships of which there were 5 in the sea organisation including the flag ship, but this was only the running of the ships. There was another organisation on the flag ship which was responsible for scientology around the world. Hubbard left the flag ship as he was ill with lung problems and my first assignment was to check all the air-conditioning units in his living quarters and where he did his writing and have them repaired where necessary. He also suffered from various allergies from certain textiles and I had to check that none of these textiles were in his living and sleeping quarters.
I then personally experienced some of Hubbard’s viciousness after he accused me of sabotaging Scientology in The Western United States when I was not even there. What happened was that there were many of the staffers children at the advanced organisation in Los Angeles where public came to study and receive counselling and the executives of this organisation wanted to send the children to one of the ships during the day to be cared for after schooling. The result was that the ship’s captain and the execs of the LA org started fighting and Hubbard held me responsible. I knew about this situation and ordered all involved to handle it but Hubbard decided to blame me. He ordered a committee of evidence to be held on me and face a charge of sabotaging scientology in the Western United States. I was of course found guilty by the committee because if I was found not guilty Hubbard would have fired the committee and have another convened. I was then put in a lower condition once again but this time I was too angry to do any of the conditions and penalties.
RETURN TO SOUTH AFRICA
We returned to South Africa shortly after and took over the running of the local sea org mission in South Africa responsible for the running of all the Scientology orgs on the continent. However I was still very angry and took a leave of absence and found a job and started making some money for a change.
In all my time in Scientology and the sea organisation pay was virtually non-existent except when on the flag ship who received money from all the organisations around the world. My wife Peggie and I split and it was only then that I discovered we were never actually married. I worked for a while and started earning money for a change but I was begged to come back and if I did not they would have declared me suppressive. I returned but I was already declared a “FREELOADER” and had to pay my freeloader bill which I did.
So once again I experienced poor food and no or little pay. I got over my anger and settled down. I was appointed chief officer and did what chief officers did. A while later, the commanding officer and her husband were transferred by their request to the Flag Ship and we received a new CO by the name of Norman Starkey. He was on a leave of absence from flag and when that leave was up he returned and took over the reigns of our little outfit.
Earlier when I was on the flag ship holding the post of ships programs chief, he was the captain of the flag ship and my junior but now he was my senior. This guy was a screaming shouting type of a character and I considered him quite insane. The 2 of us fought continuously and at one stage I landed up in the old Hillbrow hospital with ulceration of the stomach. I overcame that and Norman was later recalled to the flag ship. We received a new CO and a while later I was asked to run the Johannesburg Continental Org as it was not doing well and I ran that for a few months. During this period I got married again to my current wife. Peggy sadly died of cancer in 1994.
LEAVING THE SEA ORG & RETURNING LATER – BIG MISTAKE
Around 1979/80 I was removed from the position of CO Johannesburg – without any reason given and returned to the continental headquarters. This removal upset me and my wife and I decided to leave in 1980. My wife also gave birth to my daughter Natalie in 1979. So I got a job in my profession once again and started earning money and for the time being moved in with my wife’s parents until such time as we could get a place of our own. I then started my own business doing graphic arts for the printing industry and things were going OK.
And then in January of 1986 Hubbard died. I was very shocked and attended the “memorial service” event in Johannesburg where David Miscavige came onto the scene for the first time.
Approximately a month later I received a telephone call from Dave Engelhard and Sue Price who were senior personnel at the newly established Flag Land Base which was situated in the newly purchased Fort Harrison Hotel in Clearwater in Pinellas County, Florida USA.
They wanted me to return with my wife and children. They needed my expertise as they wished to purchase a new ship. My wife and I discussed the possibility of returning but we were not keen. We received quite a few calls from America over the next few days and eventually were persuaded to return. This was a bad mistake. We closed the business, sold the machinery and my car and purchased flights for the 5 of us and flew over to Clearwater USA. We were given a nice welcome and I was appointed to a position in the newly formed ship org. There were maybe around 15 of us. My wife was appointed as a registrar.
I was asked to go and see the owner of the ship who was based in Florida so I flew down to Florida and had an interview with the owner – a wealthy businessman. Asking price was US$12M and we did a deal. He said he liked the look of our bank account which was sent to him earlier which was an offshore bank account in Europe. I did not see that account. He then gave me permission to inspect the ship which was docked in a port close to Clearwater. So myself and a colleague and myself visited the ship which I inspected and gave my approval. It was a nice ship!
Then some time later Engelhard was not happy with me for some reason or the other which was not explained to me and he took me outside and he started roughing me up but not hitting me. I exploded and nearly attacked him as in my younger years I trained as a boxer but I refrained but warned him that if he tried that again I would break his neck. This really upset me.
My wife was also not happy. As a registrar her job was high-pressure and she was on post phoning people from after breakfast at 9:00 am until 10:00 pm. After that she was made to baby sit for another registrar until 2 or 3 in the morning. The baby was brought to our living quarters and none of us got a proper nights sleep. This carried on until one night I told this other registrar that we will no longer do this. She reported me to ethics for endangering her job. In addition to this we got our little 5 year old girl in a school but the 2 boys now aged 11 and 13 were not in school and my wife was not very happy about this.
So my wife phoned her parents and asked them to purchase tickets for us in South Africa as we were coming home. They purchased tickets for us which we collected and one morning early we left and flew home to South Africa.
My wife’s parents were not very happy with me. At this time at the age of 46 I decided that I had enough and would resign from scientology for good. But I owed my wife’s parents a lot of money for the 5 airline tickets they paid for. My family and I were now penniless and homeless and in debt. So I went to see a lawyer and asked him to send them a lawyers letter at the Flag Land Base in Clearwater demanding that they refund me for the airline tickets we purchased. They refunded the money without any problem whatsoever and I settled my debt with my father in law and purchased a small vehicle to get to work and back and lived with my parents in law until we could get our own place.
I got a job once again at the Star Newspaper and at the age of 46 had to start over from scratch, get the children educated, which we did and also purchased a house. There was just not enough time left to save for mine & my wife’s retirement although we had a house and transport. Then at the age of 63 my job became redundant world-wide and went digital. At our company alone over a 100 people lost their jobs. The company paid me a retrenchment bonus and paid out my pension. There was just not enough money in the pension fund to retire on so I had to take the money and start a business. A year later my wife got retrenched in part due to BEE and was paid out her pension which was also not enough. As we could not afford to invest our money in a pension fund we had to pay tax which was nearly half the pay-out..
We started a business in the bridal industry and did very well for a while then were hit by a series of events that we could never recover from. We got robbed of R15,000.00 due to cable theft we lost our phone lines and internet for 6 weeks which were crucial to the success of our business. Then the Chinese came into South Africa and undercut our prices followed by the Global Credit Crunch which, all combined, destroyed us. We went bankrupt and lost everything and ended up owing the bank in excess of R100,000.00.
STRUCTURES AND PAYROLLS OF ORG’S
The lower organizations around the world were a type of pyramid where they would be allowed to deliver lower less secret services to people they recruited using advertising and other means to recruit them at their own expense and then feed these people to the higher organisations for the more advanced secret services and then ultimately to the Flag Ship or Flag Service organisations.
In the early days higher services were delivered at Saint Hill in East Grinstead, England but from the late sixties onward higher level structures were created called Advanced Organisations where higher services were delivered. I am not 100% sure today but probably the same or similar structure still applies. Class 4 orgs would recruit, train and process individuals and send them to AOs or Flag where they paid much more in order to go up the bridge.
When I was the Commanding officer of the Johannesburg org we had around 60 staff members on staff. Then we had the Guardian office and the Continental Liaison Office (FOLO) each with their own staff. All these staff members were paid by the training and processing done by the Johannesburg Org. Also the rent for the Guardian Office and Liaison office plus payroll and food for the liaison office. There was never, never, never enough pay to go around for all the persons in these different organizations.
When I was on the station ship in Denmark the AO had to support us and most of the time we received no pay and often had to eat fried bread as there was just no money. But when I later transferred to Flag the food was fabulous and we always got paid. This was because at that time the Flag Ship was at the top of the pyramid. This applied to the organizations in Europe, Africa and the United States. The lower level orgs had a form to fill in at the financial week end at 2 PM on Thursday which broke the income up into different categories as follows: 10% to the Guardian Office, 10% to the FOLO 5% to St Hill etc.
As far as I was concerned there was no need for AOs but this was set up to support the ships and keep them operating in order to control the AOs and keep the money flowing to Flag who stuck it away in offshore bank accounts.
A class 5 organization could have run all the courses and processes up to the top of the bridge eliminating the need for AOs and eliminating the cost of extra staff and buildings and payrolls and ships. Another sticky point for the lower orgs was that they employed staff to sell books and proceeds all went to Publications organizations which was another Sea Org institution. When we did not get paid which was nearly always LRH would say “If you don’t get paid you can blame the person you see in the mirror”, thus not taking any responsibility for the way he set up the orgs around the world. The FOLOS also had a registrar who made tens of thousands of of dollars every week which was sent to the AOs but the office received nothing for the work done.
LRH set up the AOs due to the so-called confidential nature of the materials but this was nonsense. I have managed to read all the confidential materials such as NOTS, the L rundowns and OT8 which I downloaded from the internet and I was not impressed in the least.
And now you know my story of the +/- 24 years I spent in service of Scientology & the Sea Organisation.
Love Travers Harris