The Tragic Tale Of The Ghost Ship S.S. Ourang Medan

The Tragic Tale Of The Ghost Ship S.S. Ourang Medan - Photo

Nothing seems to satisfy our spooky cravings more than a tale of a mysterious shipwreck, bits, and pieces of stories and rumors floating amidst memories and imagination like bits of timber drifting aimlessly until they sink or are washed ashore. Unsolved to this day, the story of the S.S. Ourang Medan has captivated ghost researchers, internet browsers, and self-proclaimed detectives for years. Even government officials have commented on this tragedy, an air of secrecy constantly clouding the truth — like the murky waters where the S.S. Ourang Medan now lies.

With no concrete leads, many have come up with theories about what could have happened the day the S.S. Ourang Medan sunk. Alien attack? Pirates? Ghosts from the ocean seeking vengeance? Read on and decide for yourself.

The Mystery Begins

The demise of the S.S. Ourang Medan, a Dutch vessel, is said to have occurred in the summertime heat of the 1940s — the precise year remains unknown.

Legend tells that the ship was passing through the Strait of Malacca when numerous ships received a chilling distress call in morse code from the S.S. Ourang Medan. The calls stated:

‘All officers including captain dead, lying in chartroom and on the bridge, probably the whole crew dead…’

The call was followed by one more frenzied message and one final statement:

‘I die.’

This horrifying message was received by The Silver Star, an American ship that found itself closest to the location of the Medan. The Silver Star’s captain agreed to find the ship and offer help to those on board.

As The Silver Star approached the S.S. Ourang Medan, a horrific scene awaited them. They boarded the ship, and after receiving an S.O.S., they thought they would come upon at least one survivor. However, after a short investigation, they realized there were no lives to save.

The Silver Star’s captain tried to tow the S.S. Ourang Medan to port when a fire broke out on board. An explosion was so intense that it caused the S.S. Ourang Medan to lift from the ocean’s surface and then quickly sink — the sea claiming all evidence that could have told the tale of what happened that day.

The Aftermath

Rescue crews from The Silver Star who boarded the vessel found the ship exactly as described in the S.O.S. message. The entire crew had perished; their bodies littered the deck. The rescue crew described the bodies as having bulging eyes with terrified expressions on their faces.

Their mouths were open, their arms outstretched as if reaching for something. None of them showed apparent injuries that could have been attributed to their deaths. It is reported that they were found ‘with teeth bared, faces turned upwards towards the sun, staring.’ 

Even the ship’s resident dog was found dead, frozen in mid-growl.

Some rescuers reported a cold chill on board despite the mid-summer temperatures.

But what about the explosion? What caused that to occur? Many theories have surfaced, but none ever explain it completely.

Did the S.S. Ourang Medan Ever Sail?

The ship’s accounts lead to plenty of dead ends. There is no mention of the S.S. Ourang Medan in Lloyd’s Shipping Registries, but many negate this by mentioning that the ship was registered in Sumatra — the vessel even being named after the Sumatran island Medan. This would explain why the S.S. Ourang Medan was invisible in domestic ship registries.

An old German publication, ‘Das Totenschaffen der Sudsee’ suggests that potassium cyanide and nitroglycerine were stored and transported by the S.S. Ourang Medan and were on board at the time of this event. If this is true, it would undoubtedly lend reason to the ship’s sudden destruction and proof of a coverup of the vessel’s records. During this time, WWII was in full swing, and alongside a tense international climate, any news of the transport of such chemicals would have caused panic and outrage.

Could it be that the details of the S.S. Ourang Medan are almost impossible to find because someone, somewhere, wants them to be?

Conspiracy Theories

A government coverup? Perhaps. This theory lends credit to the hundreds of government coverup theories circulating online about the ship.

To the outside world, the Ourang Medan never existed because there isn’t any concrete evidence of its existence. It’s almost as if the ship itself was a ghost. The logs of the Silver Star omit any records of the S.S.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, why did the Coast Guard reference the story in 1954 and later the C.I.A. in 1959? It has been the subject of many unanswered questions for a ship that never sailed. While it is true that the S.S. Ourang Medan was a Dutch freighter that transported goods, it has been claimed that those goods might have been dangerous chemical weapons used for warfare.

Deadly Air

Is it possible that if these chemicals were, in fact, on board that they could have leaked into the ship’s cargo hold and affected the captain and crew?

Could the crew have slowly suffocated, perhaps hallucinating, unknowing of what was happening to them? So, was S.S. Ourang Medan’s demise nothing more than accidental poisoning? How did the rescue crew of the Silver Star come on board with the poisonous fumes, totally unharmed? Could it be possible there were darker forces involved?  

The Mystery Never Ends

What happened to the S.S. Ourang Medan? Could it have been an otherworldly event? An ocean spirit that claimed each and every life on board? We are left with more questions than answers about what could have happened to the S.S. Ourang Medan and her occupants.

Even today, the S.S. Ourang Medan mystery remains unsolved; the vessel never recovered, and the sailor’s bodies never recovered. Could the ghosts of these sailors be trapped, their end being one of tragedy and mystery? Only one thing is for sure – the case of the S.S. Ourang Medan is one of the most mysterious and elusive in nautical history. With its precisely impossible nature, it captureour imaginations even after all of these years. 

Sources Cited:

The Demise of The S.S. Ourang Medan