When most of us think about disasters involving ships, we think about the Titanic or the U.S.S Indianapolis. We know the Titanic struck an iceberg and a Japanese submarine sank the Indianapolis. Fortunately, both misfortunes had survivors who provided details about their doomed vessels.
But what happens when a ship is found floating in the ocean with no surviving crew or any documents to confirm the ship’s existence? So let me tell you about a ghost ship you have probably never heard of until now.
This is the legend of the S.S. Ourang Medan.
Many years ago, several British and Dutch outposts received an S.O.S. from a Dutch freightliner called the S.S. Ourang Medan, which was sailing through the Straits of Malacca. The message was simple:
“All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.”
Then a final transmission—“I die.”
The Silver Star, an American ship was closest to the Ourang Medan. The captain agreed to find the Ourang Medan and offer help. Upon finding the Ourang Medan, crew members of the Silver Star called out to the Ourang Medan. No one responded. The ship was silent. It didn’t appear that anyone was on the ship.
A rescue crew from the Silver Star boarded the Ourang Medan to investigate. What the crew saw next would become one of the strangest unsolved mysteries of our time. Including the Ourang Medan’s captain, the entire crew was dead. Corpses littered the ship. The sailor who sent the SOS was also found dead with his finger on the telegraph. Even the ship’s dog didn’t survive.
The crew looked as if something had terrified them to death. Their eyeballs bulged from the sockets and their mouths were wide open as if they tried to release a final scream. Many of the bodies also had outstretched arms as if they were trying to grab something.
Survivors attached a line to the Ourang Medan to tow it. Moments after the rescue crew had returned to the Silver Star, smoke billowed from the lower part of the Ourang Medan. With minutes to spare, the Silver Star crew cut the towline. The Ourang Medan exploded and sank to the bottom of the ocean.
The explosion led to one of the strangest unsolved mysteries of our time.
Conspiracy theorists believe several countries worked together to cover up the Ourang Medan incident. For instance, this story happened in either June 1947 or February 1948. No one is sure when. And then the Coast Guard didn’t report the Ourang Medan story until May 1954. However, there were earlier references in newspapers but they withheld information.
It’s believed the Ourang Medan was transporting a top secret chemical weapon.
Historians and conspiracy theorists have researched this incident extensively. Basically, the Ourang Medan never existed because there isn’t any proof of its existence. And the logs of the Silver Star omit any records of the Ourang Medan rescue attempt. No crew members of the Silver Star ever shared any relevant information with the media. So if the Ourang Medan never existed, then why did the Coast Guard reference the story in 1954? And then the CIA in 1959? For a ship that never existed, it has been the subject of many unanswered questions.
Other theories are that either pirates or aliens killed the Ourang Medan crew. I have even seen carbon monoxide poisoning or some other chemical poisoning listed as the killer. But if true, wouldn’t the crew from the Silver Star have also been poisoned? Another oddity was that crew members of the Silver Star said they felt cold chills aboard the Ourang Medan. Cold chills on a day with a temperature over 100 degrees? This is another mystery that will stay unsolved. Answers to any questions about the Medan’s crew rest somewhere on the bottom of the Straits of Malacca.
Marc is a grandparent and longtime resident of Clermont County. Visit his author page at http://www.lifewithgrandpa.com. He also wrote Just Bite Me: A Guide to Zombies, Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Walking Nightmares, which is available on Amazon.com.