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The Ourang Medan death ship


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#1    UM-Bot

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 10:28 AM

<strong class='bbc'>Image credit: sxc.hu</strong>
Image credit: sxc.hu
Matt Forde: The straits of Malacca near Sumatra have long borne witness to the passage of trading ships. Ivory, fabrics, perfumes, glassware and precious stones have passed through the straitís Pacific waters, stowed in countless cargo holds, eventually to settle in far flung places around the globe. Over the centuries, most of these merchantmen reached their destinations safely. However, the quiet peace was broken one day in June 1947 when a forbidding SOS message drifted across the airwaves: ďAll officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge.Ē read the message. ďPossibly whole crew dead." This was followed by some indecipherable Morse code chatter, probably more SOS signals, and then one final grisly message... "I die." And then, silence.

The macabre distress call was picked up by numerous ships and Dutch and British listening posts who, through triangulation, identified the vessel as the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan and located its approximate position within the straits of Malacca. Of the two American merchant ships that heard the Ourang Medanís grim message, the 6,507tn Silver Star was the nearest and she raced to the aid of the stricken vessel.

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#2    jbondo

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Posted 24 March 2010 - 01:27 PM

Obviously if there were a lethal biological agent on board there would also be a military ship or sub tracking it as it traveled. Either a leak or some curios seaman decided to crack open a container to get a look at the mystery cargo. As for the explosion, either the tracking ship heard the distress call and quickly boarded to plant an explosive or they already had an explosive in with the cargo and just tripped it with a remote.


#3    socrates.junior

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Posted 25 March 2010 - 01:26 AM

Interesting. When I looked a little up about the ship though, well, it started to make less sense. It's been said that the ship possibly never even existed.

   Which would certainly explain the whole thing.

   At least, I think so. This is another one of the ghost ships stories of indefinable genesis and indeterminate progeny that makes a good yarn. Unfortunately, as for its veracity, probably not.

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#4    Astute One

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 04:37 AM

View PostUM-Bot, on 24 March 2010 - 10:28 AM, said:

<strong class='bbc'>Image credit: sxc.hu</strong>
Image credit: sxc.hu
Matt Forde: The straits of Malacca near Sumatra have long borne witness to the passage of trading ships. Ivory, fabrics, perfumes, glassware and precious stones have passed through the straitís Pacific waters, stowed in countless cargo holds, eventually to settle in far flung places around the globe. Over the centuries, most of these merchantmen reached their destinations safely. However, the quiet peace was broken one day in June 1947 when a forbidding SOS message drifted across the airwaves: ďAll officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge.Ē read the message. ďPossibly whole crew dead." This was followed by some indecipherable Morse code chatter, probably more SOS signals, and then one final grisly message... "I die." And then, silence.

The macabre distress call was picked up by numerous ships and Dutch and British listening posts who, through triangulation, identified the vessel as the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan and located its approximate position within the straits of Malacca. Of the two American merchant ships that heard the Ourang Medanís grim message, the 6,507tn Silver Star was the nearest and she raced to the aid of the stricken vessel.

Posted Image View: Full Article

If this cargo was as toxic and indicated, wouldn't it have impacted those who boarded the ship in some matter?  It usually doesn't take much to kill instantly, and it appears it was pretty instant.  And the boarders, most likely, didn't have any PPE.  If there was no impact to the health of the ones who boarded, then I think it unlikely that a release of a nerve agent was the cause of death.  It is very strange indeed.


#5    Bud Rasputin

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:39 AM

To me, the story sounds almost like a maritime legend, except that there might be photos of the actual ship.

For instance, here:

http://heyvin.blogsp...rang-medan.html

I don't think it would be a big stretch to think that there might have been something both highly toxic and explosive/flammable on board, such as a gas.  The container could have been breached somehow during transport, releasing the gas.  One gas which could fit that description pretty well is hydrogen sulfide.  It's heavier than air, so it could have been confined to the area of the ship. H2S has been notorious for explosions and deaths in coal mines.  Also, hydrogen sulfide occurs with crude petroleum.


http://en.wikipedia....ydrogen_sulfide

Edited by Bud Rasputin, 26 March 2010 - 08:42 AM.

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#6    OldTimeRadio

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Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:11 PM

View Postjbondo, on 24 March 2010 - 01:27 PM, said:

Obviously if there were a lethal biological agent on board there would also be a military ship or sub tracking it as it traveled.
    

     Not if the cargo was a highly-illegal black market shipment of war surplus nerve gas or plague bacilli.


#7    cmwmmv

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:25 AM

sounds like yellow rain , mustard gas.


#8    Siara

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 12:34 AM

View PostOldTimeRadio, on 26 March 2010 - 10:11 PM, said:

Not if the cargo was a highly-illegal black market shipment of war surplus nerve gas or plague bacilli.

There's no way they would have failed to notice signs of plague.


#9    pallidin

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 01:54 AM

Yeah, if the story is real, sounds like some type of nerve gas or similar.


#10    One or Alister Wayman etc.

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 02:25 AM

Reading this article makes me want to believe it was gases smuggled aboad the ship that killed everyone. But, for all I know, there may be a way to debunk that unincluded in this article..


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#11    1963

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Posted 27 March 2010 - 08:27 PM

I find it too hard to comment seriously,on a myth!!.....                                                                                               But! IT'S A RIPPING GOOD YARN!!!! :tu:

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.Ē

#12    Junkers88

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Posted 28 April 2010 - 06:50 PM

View Postcmwmmv, on 27 March 2010 - 12:25 AM, said:

sounds like yellow rain , mustard gas.

I think "mustard gas" (HD) would have left some pretty visible blisters.


Might have been a nerve agent though.


#13    pixiii

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Posted 31 May 2010 - 12:06 PM

Certainly makes one wonder if it was an actual ship and not just a story after reading that. :unsure2:


#14    globosapiens

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Posted 24 November 2010 - 12:45 AM

View PostUM-Bot, on 24 March 2010 - 10:28 AM, said:

<strong class='bbc'>Image credit: sxc.hu</strong>
Image credit: sxc.hu
Matt Forde: The straits of Malacca near Sumatra have long borne witness to the passage of trading ships. Ivory, fabrics, perfumes, glassware and precious stones have passed through the strait’s Pacific waters, stowed in countless cargo holds, eventually to settle in far flung places around the globe. Over the centuries, most of these merchantmen reached their destinations safely. However, the quiet peace was broken one day in June 1947 when a forbidding SOS message drifted across the airwaves: “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge.” read the message. “Possibly whole crew dead." This was followed by some indecipherable Morse code chatter, probably more SOS signals, and then one final grisly message... "I die." And then, silence.

The macabre distress call was picked up by numerous ships and Dutch and British listening posts who, through triangulation, identified the vessel as the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan and located its approximate position within the straits of Malacca. Of the two American merchant ships that heard the Ourang Medan’s grim message, the 6,507tn Silver Star was the nearest and she raced to the aid of the stricken vessel.

Posted Image View: Full Article


Long shrouded in mystery!

I remember this story as a young boy reading a cheap paperback account of the mystery of the SS Ourang Medan. We must analyse this story at a comfortable distance and avoid the emotive descriptions of it  that evoke paranormal causes. The known facts include but are not limited to the following:

A distress call was sent by the stricken freight ship to which two other ships responded. The distress call ended suddenly (gas?). When found, the crew was in a variety of distressed poses staring fixedly. The dog died suddenly on the deck  in a strange position. The rescue crew had to leave suddenly because of an explosion which sunk the ship. The ship's identity is not in any registry. Hard facts and records are hard to come by. The sinking has two dates...strangely...June 1947 and February 1948.

The area the ship was  in was the Strait of Malacca near Borneo. The area was a dutch colony in the throes of a colonial war that included the communists against Holland which was a NATO ally. The area had been under Japanese control until 1945.

The Japanese had a long history of Chem-Bio War (CBW) weapons development and had used both chemicals and bio agents against China during the war. A dutch admiralty report gotten with some difficulty over the web shows that particular area suffered mine infestation and heavy military activity in 1948.

Another ship, the MV Soegio, formerly the British transport ministry ship Empire Betsy exploded and sank in the Straits of Macassar in  February 1948 at a known location. The ship was leased to a vague Dutch oil company which is untraceable except for its name. Macassar is a name that could easily be confused with many others in the area including Malacca.  

Britain was a dutch ally and was faced with colonial struggles of its own after WW2. Communist lead movements allied with independence forces threatened the dying British Empire in 1948. Independence was a Cold War issue in the context of communism.

Possible Conclusions and Open Questions:

Was the MV Soegio in fact the real SS Ourang Medan? The name Ourang Medan is is fact a generic description and likely a fake name. The false identity  would serve many purposes: it would hide the bureaucratic paper trail of death claims and goods insurance proceeds from the eyes of the media by shifting attention to a ship that could not be traced.

False cover stories "plausible deniability" is a common practice with the CIA who frequently used the bogus "Atlas Steamship Company" to hide clandestine shipments from media attention and later "Air America." The small Dutch oil (chemical company?) didn't seem to be in business very long...why was that? Why two dates for an objective event? A CBW accident would lead to legal proceedings related to illegal CBW warfare against dutch colonials which would be rich fodder for the Soviets.

Has anybody gone to the wreck site? Of course not, since the story is vague enough to deny any specific location information. The wreck of the MV Soegio may be an interesting place as I suggested to "Treasure Quest" who told me that a wreck had to have economic value to offset the cost of a TV show.

What do the records of the MV Soegio show? Were there many British government employees on the ship as "contractors" of the oil company? Have the records of the MV Soegio disappeared as so many others have?  Was the explosion that sank the MV Soegio a mine or an emergency charge set to go off in an accident to cover up any illegal CBW weapons? Is there any record or recollection of CBW war in colonial Indonesia?

The mystery ship is likely a story of black ops gone bad except for a good cover.

GLOBOSAPIENS

Edited by globosapiens, 24 November 2010 - 01:24 AM.


#15    globosapiens

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Posted 26 November 2010 - 04:52 AM

[quote name='globosapiens' timestamp='1290559549' post='3672634']
Long shrouded in mystery, the story of a doomed ship!

I remember this story as a young boy reading a cheap paperback account of the mystery of the SS Ourang Medan. We must analyse this story at a comfortable distance and avoid the emotive descriptions of it  that evoke paranormal causes. The known facts include but are not limited to the following:

A distress call was sent by the stricken freight ship to which two other ships responded. The distress call ended suddenly (gas?). When found, the crew was in a variety of distressed poses staring fixedly. The dog died suddenly on the deck  in a strange position. The rescue crew had to leave suddenly because of an explosion which sunk the ship. The ship's identity is not in any registry. Hard facts and records are hard to come by. The sinking has two dates...strangely...June 1947 and February 1948.

The area the ship was  in was the Strait of Malacca near Borneo. The area was a dutch colony in the throes of a colonial war that included the communists against Holland which was a NATO ally. The area had been under Japanese control until 1945.

The Japanese had a long history of Chem-Bio War (CBW) weapons development and had used both chemicals and bio agents against China during the war. A dutch admiralty report gotten with some difficulty over the web shows that particular area suffered mine infestation and heavy military activity in 1948.

Another ship, the MV Soegio, formerly the British transport ministry ship Empire Betsy exploded and sank in the Straits of Macassar in  February 1948 at a known location. The ship was leased to a vague Dutch oil company which is untraceable except for its name. Macassar is a name that could easily be confused with many others in the area including Malacca.  

Britain was a dutch ally and was faced with colonial struggles of its own after WW2. Communist lead movements allied with independence forces threatened the dying British Empire in 1948. Independence was a Cold War issue in the context of communism.

Possible Conclusions and Open Questions:

Was the MV Soegio in fact the real SS Ourang Medan? The name Ourang Medan is is fact a generic description and likely a fake name. The false identity  would serve many purposes: it would hide the bureaucratic paper trail of death claims and goods insurance proceeds from the eyes of the media by shifting attention to a ship that could not be traced.

False cover stories "plausible deniability" is a common practice with the CIA who frequently used the bogus "Atlas Steamship Company" to hide clandestine shipments from media attention and later "Air America." The small Dutch oil (chemical company?) didn't seem to be in business very long...why was that? Why two dates for an objective event? A CBW accident would lead to legal proceedings related to illegal CBW warfare against dutch colonials which would be rich fodder for the Soviets.

Has anybody gone to the wreck site? Of course not, since the story is vague enough to deny any specific location information. The wreck of the MV Soegio may be an interesting place as I suggested to "Treasure Quest" who told me that a wreck had to have economic value to offset the cost of a TV show.

What do the records of the MV Soegio show? Were there many British government employees on the ship as "contractors" of the oil company? Have the records of the MV Soegio disappeared as so many others have?  Was the explosion that sank the MV Soegio a mine or an emergency charge set to go off in an accident to cover up any illegal CBW weapons? Is there any record or recollection of CBW war in colonial Indonesia?

The mystery ship is likely a story of black ops gone bad except for a good cover. A cover story released to an adventure magazine only one year before a Coast Guard probe started...the record of which has also disappeared!

GLOBOSAPIENS
zebuman3764@yahoo.com





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