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The Ourang Medan death ship

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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.

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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.

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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.

-socrates.junior

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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.

arrow3.gifView: 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.

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Posted (edited)

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.blogspot.com/2009/01/ourang-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.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide

Edited by Bud Rasputin

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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.

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sounds like yellow rain , mustard gas.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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

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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.

arrow3.gifView: 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

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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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I just recently came across this story. I do find it fascinating. I would think it's more of a urban tale, or something like Globosapiens is mentioning. I wouldn't write off the lethal and/or poisoned gas or cargo killing everyone. Finding one with their mouths open, could also mean trying to catch their last breath as apposed opened in terror along with their eyes. The dog may look like he was snarling, but what if he was trying to breath too? 

Now though, from what I have read about this, the last one alive, the radio operator who was able to observe the bodies of those before, and thinking he was the only one left alive, how did he manage that, if it got everyone else which seemed to be at the same time? And I would think, that those who boarded her from the Silver Star would have had some lasting effects too. I don't think there were any, and that anyone from the Silver Star had anything occur to them health wise at all. 

And why was the boiler room very cold, despite the temperature outside over 100 and that the boiler room should have been hotter? 

And another thought that occurred while reading up on this, why everyone on the Ourang Medan and not anyone else? 

The more I read up on this, the more I wonder if it's a made up story. 

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Posted (edited)

From the Wiki:

Quote

Several authors note their inability to find any mention of the case in Lloyd's Shipping Register.[1][11][12] Furthermore, no registration records for a ship by the name of Ourang Medan could be located in various countries, including the Netherlands. While Bainton states that the identity of the Silver Star, which was reported to have been involved in the failed rescue attempt, has been established with some certainty, the lack of information on the sunken ship itself has given rise to suspicion about the origins and credibility of the account. Bainton and others have put forward the possibility that accounts of, among others, the date, location, names of the ships involved, and circumstances of the accident might have been inaccurate or exaggerated, or that the story might be completely fictitious.

The CIA does not have the ability to make history books, port visit records, freight logs, insurance documents, fleet registries, ship construction records, Lloyds Register, etc, etc vanish.  It's a fictional story imnsho.

Edited by ChrLzs
to add wiki link

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I've always heard pretty much what ChrLzs quoted from Wikipedia, that there's no historical records on this and is just an old myth. I was very interested in it back in the '90s when I read about it in a book.

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3 hours ago, Skulduggery said:

I've always heard pretty much what ChrLzs quoted from Wikipedia, that there's no historical records on this and is just an old myth. I was very interested in it back in the '90s when I read about it in a book.

Sounds like a myth imo too. Interesting and sorta strange none the less. 

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