Freewinds, the former cruise ship owned by the Church of Scientology, has been quarantined in the Caribbean nation of St Lucia over a measles case onboard.
In a statement on Tuesday, Dr Merlene Fredericks-James from St Lucia’s Ministry of Health said that the ministry had made a decision to quarantine an unnamed vessel, preventing any passengers or crew from leaving the vessel. The vessel was later identified when a St Lucia Coast Guard sergeant told NBC News that the vessel’s name was ‘Freewind’ and then identified it as the vessel on the Church of Scientology’s website.
According to NBC, the ship, which is carrying nearly 300 passengers, was placed in quarantine on Monday, with the measles case attributed to a female crew member. Officials told NBC that the vessel was scheduled to leave on Thursday night.
The 440-foot ship was purchased in 1986 by a trust set up by the Church of Scientology, and has since acted as a training facility for high-level Scientologists. From their own description of the ship:
The Freewinds is a religious retreat that marks for Scientologists the pinnacle of their journey to total spiritual freedom. Its position at sea is designed to provide an aesthetic, distraction-free environment off the crossroads of everyday life. As a center of spiritual enlightenment, it is a place where lives are transformed.
This isn’t the first time Freewinds has been quarantined; in 2008 the vessel was locked-down in a port on Curaçao after it was found to contain blue asbestos, which the organisation had allegedly known about since 2001.
The Ministry of Health said that the ship’s doctor had requested 100 doses of the measles vaccine, which they provided to the vessel free of charge.