November 7, 2013

The Mystery Of The Death Ship

Straight out of a scifi or horror movie, is the tale of the SS Ourang Medan.

On a hot day in June 1947, an SOS message in Morse Code is picked up by ships in the Strait of Malacca that chilled those who heard it to the bone: "All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge.  Possibly whole crew dead." This was followed by some gibberish, then two final words: "I die."

The message of distress is found to come from the SS Ourang Medan, a Dutch freighter, and soon an American merchant ship, the Silver Star, goes to the rescue. But as the Silver Star draws nearer to the troubled ship, the crew notices no immediate sign of life aboard.  They rush to board the Ourang Medan only to find the ship's captain dead on the bridge and the corpses of his crew laying about--even the communications officer is dead, crumpled over the telegraph.

And every single dead man bears the same expression:  one of abject terror.  Yet not one of them shows any evidence of harm.

Despite the blazing heat, the rescue team finds the ship's hold to be unpleasantly chilly as it continues its search.  Finally, when it's clear no living person is to be found, the captain of the Silver Star gives the order to tow the Ourang Medan back to shore.  However, in the process of doing so, the crew notices dark smoke billowing out of the cargo hull.  The would-be rescuers barely have a chance to cut themselves loose and rejoin the Silver Star before the Dutch ship blows apart, so violently it rises in the air before plunging back down and swiftly sinking to the bottom of the ocean.

The first official account of this unexplained event is first reported in 1952, yet there doesn't seem to be any
record of the ship itself.

Did the ship really exist? Some searchers have speculated that the SS Ourang Medan's hold may have contained highly illegal substances of "'Zyankali' (potassium cyanide) and nitroglycerin."  Others venture that the ship may have been transporting nerve gas or other biological weapons that had been created by a team of Japanese scientists whose experiments would have made the Nazis look like choirboys...

Mysterious Universe (includes more background info on the Japanese team of evil scientists).

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