Our world is filled with mystery. ‘Lost’ cities, forgotten civilizations, vanished people and places and a plethora of unexplained happenings.
Since more than 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, it makes sense that our oceans would be home to the majority of these mysteries. Combined with legend, folklore and imagination, and given the fact that man has traveled the seas since the earliest times, tales of ghost ships, tragedies and sunken treasure ships abound.
One such tale surrounds the Ourang Medan, often referred to as The Death Ship.
In February 1948, distress calls were picked up near Indonesia from a Dutch freighter identifying itself as the SS Ourang Medan. The chilling message was, "All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead." This message was followed by indecipherable Morse code then one final grisly message... "I die."
Then - - - silence.
Two American vessels navigating the Strait of Malacca, the City of Baltimore and the Silver Star, among others, picked up distress messages and immediately set out to render aid.
When the Silver Star crew located and boarded the apparently undamaged Ourang Medan, the ship they found
was found littered with corpses in what appeared to be terrified postures, arms outstretched towards the sun, with no survivors and no visible signs of injuries on the dead bodies.
The decks of the vessel littered with corpses; their eyes wide, their arms grasping at unseen assailants, their faces twisted into revolting visages of agony and horror. Even the ship’s dog was dead; it’s once intimidating snarl frozen into a ghastly grimace.
The boarding party found the Captain’s remains on the bridge, while his officers’ cadavers were strewn about the wheelhouse and chartroom. The communications officer was still at his post, as dead as the rest, his fingertips resting on the telegraph. All of the corpses, according to reports, bore the same terrified, wide-eyed expressions as the crew on deck.
Below deck, search party members found corpses in the boiler room.
It was obvious that the crew of the Ourang Medan suffered in agony at the moment of their deaths, but searchers could find no evidence of injury or foul play on the swiftly decaying corpses. Nor could they find any damage to the ship itself.
Eerily, American crew members claimed to have felt an extreme chill in the hold, even though the temperature outside was a scorching 110°F.
Before the ship could be fully explored, a fire broke out in the ship's cargo hold, forcing the boarding parties to evacuate ship. Soon after, the Ourang Medan exploded and sink.
Curious and mystifying, but what makes the tale really interesting is the back story of the ship and its history.
The earliest known reference to the ship and the incident is in the May 1952 issue of the Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council, published by the United States Coast Guard. The issue gives little hard information and no proof of the actual incident.
Other accounts of the ship's accident have appeared in various books and magazines, but their factual accuracy and even the ship's existence, are unconfirmed, and details of the vessel's construction and history, if any, remain unknown. Searches for official registration and/or accident investigation records have proven unsuccessful.
We know that the Silver Star was real, but there’s no paper trail leading to the Ourang Medan.
Was the ship real and did the accident actually happen, or is it just another legend of the sea?
There are essentially five theories:
- Carbon monoxide poisoning
Suspiciously, no survivors of the Silver Star have ever come forward to verify the tale.
However, the fact that the United States Coast Guard seems to have confirmed the tale, and that other noted nautical authors have invested so much time and so many resources in availing themselves of the truth, seems to point to at least a bit of credibility to the story.
Unsecured hazardous materials cargo
There the trail ends.
No further information on their whereabouts or dispensation can be found.
Speculation is that, under a cloak of extreme secrecy, the Ourang Medan may have been transporting these chemical weapons to the U.S. which, due to leakage or accident, were released and overcame the crew.
After much examination and investigation, this would appear to be a very likely scenario and would account for the total absence of records of such a ship.
We may never know the full truth of the mission or the fate of the Ourang Medan, and it will be relegated to just another entry on the list of legendary mysteries of the sea.
Our story does not end here, though.
The possible ties of the ship to Japanese secret biological research, demands that we look deeper into what those experiments were and what became of them.
We shall detail these scientists, whose agenda was to create the most deadly forms of chemical and biological weapons known to man in, “Unit 731 - A Den of Cannibals”
I will give you fair warning that this article contains some explicit, and disturbing, information and photos.
Discretion is advised.