The strange case of the Ourang Medan ghost ship

Ian Harvey
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A Dutch freighter, SS Ourang Medan, sent shivers down the spine of the rescue crew that landed on it after they were alerted of its peculiar behavior in 1948.

On a chilly morning of February 1948, a number of ships near the coasts of Indonesia received a very strange distress call from the Dutch freighter.

SS Ourang Medan

SS Ourang Medan Photo Credit

The chilling message was, in fact, a very clear and desperate attempt for help, saying that all the crew including the captain of the ships were dead and were lying on the bridge and in the chartroom.

Soon after the distressing message a Morse code was sent from the ship; the message was almost entirely indecipherable except the grisly message “I die.”

The message was clearly the indication that either a sudden calamity had befallen on the crew that left all but one crew member dead on board, or it was a massive hoax of some kind.

Another possibility could be pirates, who could have taken over control of the ship and were now luring more small vessels in the vicinity. No one could be sure.

However, a rescue vessel arrived at the location only a few hours later and tried to hail the crew on the Ourang Medan, but there was no response to the waving and shouting of the rescue vessel.

A boarding party then was dispatched to check on the crew, but once on board, they witnessed some of the most horrible sights that have made the Ourang Medan one of the strangest ghost ships of all times.

The crew of the Silver Star ship who had located the Dutch freighter after a couple of hours of search decided to board the vessel which apparently seemed undamaged, ruling out the possibility of a shipwreck.

The aim was to rescue the crew that were apparently reported to be dead or possibly injured for some reason. What they found instead was a deck littered with the corpses with frozen faces looking at the sun with wide open mouths and eyes staring open, the bodies resembled some waxworks of a surreal artist.

After the initial shock, the crew went on to look for the survivors specifically the man who had reportedly sent a message for help, but every living soul on board was dead including the only pet dog on the vessel.

During their search for survivors on the ship in the boiler room, the rescue party felt a sudden drop in the temperature nearing 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

body in the boiler room

body in the boiler room

The crew decided to tow the ship to the safety of a nearby coast to examine the peculiarity, but the ship quickly broke loose after a massive explosion.

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The ship burnt for few minutes and later sank, taking the mystery of the death of the crew with it to the bottom of the ocean, possibly never to be found again.