27 Sep, 2015
The Strange Case of the SS Ourang Medan
The Strange Case of the SS Ourang Medan
There have been many ships go missing at sea and other have met with death and disaster but the most disturbing of all these stories is the case of the SS Ourang Medan.
It was in June of 1947 or February of 1948 depending on who tells the story, that several ships traveling the trade routes in the straits of Malacca, which is located between Sumatra and Malaysia, claimed to have received a SOS distress signal.
The message sent in Morse code read, ‘All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.’ It was then followed by some indiscernible Morse code, with the final message simply saying, ‘I die.’ And that was the very last message sent from the SS Ourang Medan
The distress signal was heard by two American ships and both British and Dutch listening stations. The radio operators managed to triangulate the source of the transmission as coming from a Dutch freighter known as the SS Ourang Medan, which was in the straits of Malacca.
The American merchant ship named the Silver Star was closest to the SS Ourang Medan and the Captain and crew immediately changed course to help with a rescue. Several hours later the Silver Star was in sight of the SS Ourang Medan as it looked lifeless and dead in the water.
Approaching the vessel, the Silver Star’s crew could see no sign of life on the deck. After several failed communication attempts the American Captain decided to launch a boarding party, little did they know what they were about to find.
Upon boarding the SS Ourang Medan, the rescuers were horrified to see the deck covered with the bodies of the Dutch crew, even the ship’s dog was dead, with the corpses twisted into horrible shapes as if they had died in terrible agony.
When the boarding party entered the bridge they found the Captain and his officer’s bodies strewn about the wheelhouse and chartroom, and the radio officer was still in his chair, dead, his fingers still on the telegraph. The report said that all of the dead officers had the same terrified expressions as the crew had.
A thorough search of the ship found no survivors, and it looked like the entire crew suffered horribly at the moment of their deaths. No sign of injury or foul play was found on the bodies, neither could they find any damage to the ship itself.
The Captain of the Silver Star decided to attach a tow line to the SS Ourang Medan and tow it back to port, but no sooner had the crew attached the line to the Dutch ship they noticed smoke coming up from below deck, specifically it was coming the Number 4 hold.
The boarding party wasted no time and promptly cut the towline and abandoned the ship, returning to the Silver Star before the SS Ourang Medan exploded with such tremendous force that it ‘lifted herself from the water and swiftly sank.’
Resting in her watery grave the SS Ourang Medan has become one of the most puzzling and intriguing maritime mysterious of the twentieth century.
An investigation was starting with the official statement published in May 1952, called the ‘Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council,’ by the United States Coast Guard.
Inside the report is testimony from the American sailors described the state of the Dutch crewmen as saying, “Their frozen faces were upturned to the sun… staring, as if in fear… the mouths were gaping open and the eyes staring.”
Further investigation of the now infamous Dutch freighter revealed that there were no official records of the SS Ourang Medan and no paper trail!
Historian Roy Bainton, did an extensive investigation into the SS Ourang Medan, but met a dead end. Starting with the Lloyd’s Shipping registers then contacting the United Kingdom Admiralty, the Registrar of Shipping and Seamen and the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich all of whom told him to check the Dutch Shipping records in Amsterdam. He then searched the Dutch records as well as the Maritime Authority in Singapore, and found nothing.
Finally as he was about to give up, Roy was contacted by Professor Theodor Siersdorfer of Essen, Germany who was also pursuing the case and he revealed the names of the two American ships that had heard the SS Ourang Medan’s distress calls.
Professor Theodor showed Roy a 32 page German booklet written in 1954 by Otto Mielke, entitled“Das Totenschiffin der Südsee” or “Death Ship in the South Sea.” The booklet revealed the SS Ourang Medan’s route, cargo, tonnage and engine power and even the Captain’s name.
This new bit of evidence claimed that the Number 4 hold of the SS Ourang Medan may have been filled with very dangerous and lethal substances. Roy Bainton said, “…there is a tantalizing, possible explanation as to her crew’s demise and her disappearance from the records. Mielke mentions a mixed, lethal cargo on the Dutchman ‘Zyankali’ (potassium cyanide) and nitroglycerine.”
Were the crew of the SS Ourang Medan over come by this toxic substance, if so why were the American rescue party unaffected?
Perhaps it was something from the supernatural……….
Posted in Ghost Tales and tagged Otto Mielke, Professor Theodor Siersdorfer, Roy Bainton, SS Ourang Medan by cnkguy with no comments yet.