The Ghost Ship That The Government Tried To Keep A Secret – The Ourang Medan

September 11, 2019 0 By William Hollis


This video was made possible by WIX. If you are ready to create a website, head
over to wix.com/go/infographics to try out one of their premium plans right now. The ocean is a vast, mysterious frontier,
and even though thousands of ships navigate its waters every day, from time to time tragedy
strikes and leaves behind little more than a mystery- no wreckage, no survivors, just
a haunting sense of “what exactly happened?”. But other times tragedy strikes and leaves
behind a plethora of evidence, all pointing at sinister and unbelievable conclusions. Hello, and welcome to another episode of The
Infographics Show’s Greatest Mysteries- today we’re taking a look at the ghost ship Ourang
Medan. Ghost ships have been a stable of maritime
folklore for centuries, and something we like to pretend we no longer believe in. However, sometimes fate tests that disbelief,
pushing back the boundaries of our knowledge and our confidence in science and reason over
superstition. The Ourang Medan is one of those tests, a
mystery tempting us with an answer we may find too terrifying to accept. Reports vary on the start of the Ourang Medan
mystery, with some placing it in June of 1947 and others in February of 1948. Whatever the date, the saga of the Ourang
Medan began with an emergency distress call over morse code intercepted by various vessels
in the Straits of Malacca, near Sumatra and Malaysia. The message was split into two parts, with
undecipherable morse code in between each. The first part read: “All Officers, including
the Captain, are dead. Lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” Gibberish followed, though given the context
of the second message it may have been the fading attempts of a dying man to communicate,
as the second message simply read: “I die.” Nothing followed after this transmission,
but two American commercial ships decided to respond. With the aid of British and Dutch listening
posts the coordinates of the vessel were triangulated and a course was set. The identity of the stricken vessel was also
ascertained as being the Dutch freighter S.S. Ourang Medan. The American merchant ship, the Silver Star,
immediately made way for the coordinates and several hours later the look-out spotted the
Ourang Medan. The ship was discovered to be drifting aimlessly
with no power to the motors and no visible crew, though there appeared to be no damage
to the vessel. Pulling alongside it, the crew of the Silver
Star called out to the Medan but received no response. Radio contact was attempted with the same
eerily silent response. Forming a boarding party, the Captain of the
Silver Star prepared to board the vessel. What greeted the sailors upon boarding the
Medan was like a scene from a horror movie, and proved the SOS message to be very accurate. Dead sailors littered the deck of the ship,
each man found with their faces frozen in wide-eyed horror and twisted in terror. Their bodies had begun to decay abnormally
fast, and rigor mortis had locked their arms in positions that made it seem as if the crew
had died fending some nightmarish attacker off. The single animal on board the ship, a pet
dog, had not escaped the grisly fate and was found with a savage snarl frozen on its face. A further search of the vessel found the Captain
on the bridge in a similar condition, and the bodies of the Bridge Officers were discovered
in the wheelhouse and Chartroom, perhaps trying to barricade themselves from whatever monstrous
fate had befallen the rest of the crew. The engineering crew, also at their stations
below deck, were discovered with the same frozen look of terror, arms stiff and fending
off their attacker. Lastly, the radio operator who presumably
sent the distress call was discovered still at his station, likely having died there just
moments after sending the SOS. The Silver Star’s search party made several
notes about their discoveries aboard the Ourang Medan. Firstly, not a single crew member had any
visible injuries to speak of, though it was clear by their twisted expressions and frozen
limbs that they had suffered greatly, perhaps even been engaged in some sort of bloodless
violence. The bodies were also decaying much faster
than they should be, rigor mortis had locked limbs in place almost as if they had never
had a chance to lose muscle control and fall to the floor. The rest of the ship was found in good condition
with no apparent signs of damage or disaster, though strangest of all was the still operational
boiler room- despite temperatures of over 130 degrees (54 Celsius), the crew felt a
sudden chill in this location. Deciding to tow the ship back to port for
investigation and salvage, the Silver Star secured tow lines when suddenly smoke was
discovered below decks in the number four hold. Fire quickly followed, and the boarding party
made haste to their own ship before severing the tow lines. The moment the lines were cut, the ship exploded
with a force so violent it lifted it out of the water before slipping beneath the waves. Whatever secrets the ship may have held disappeared
as it sunk, and the first official mention of the incident was made in Dutch newspapers
in 1948, and later in a US Coast Guard report in 1952. Publishing eyewitness testimony about the
state of the crew, the report said that the crew were discovered “their frozen faces
upturned to the sun… staring, as if in fear… the mouths were gaping open and the eyes staring.” What could have taken the lives of an entire
ship’s crew so quickly without leaving any wounds behind? Some speculate that the cargo hold was loaded
with potassium cyanide and nitroglycerin, which would have accounted for the sudden
smoke and explosion. But neither would account for the crew- which
is where some believe, things get more sinister as some speculate that the ship was secretly
carrying cargo from Japanese military Unit 731. Infamous for their chemical and biological
experiments during World War II, Unit 731 routinely carried out horrific experiments
on live American and Chinese POWs, including once tying prisoners to stakes in concentric
circles around a live grenade which was then exploded. By studying the wounds suffered, the Japanese
honed their surgical skills and learned to make better anti-personnel explosives. Some allege that the Ourang Medan was carrying
equipment or personnel from Unit 731 when suddenly an accidental release of some ghastly
chemical or biological agent affected the entire crew. As wanted war criminals, any surviving members
of Unit 731 may have had motivation for keeping the ship’s identity a secret, which would
account for one of the most contentious pieces of the Ourang Medan account- the ship was
never listed on any known registries at the time. Skeptics also point out that the Silver Star
was also not on any known registries, although this is inaccurate as the ship was in fact
at the time operating under a different registration: the Santa Juana after the Grace Line shipping
company bought rights to the ship and renamed it. Many skeptics still disbelief the case of
the Ourang Medan, yet if the ship was in fact carrying secret and dangerous materials it
would certainly have been prudent to keep its name off official records. Most curious of all however is that the ship
was mentioned in a private letter years later by C.H. Marck, the assistant to the Director of the
CIA. The letter which was declassified by the CIA
only recently was addressed to an unknown individual who’s name remained redacted, and
is dated December 5, 1959. In the letter Marck explains the events, from
discovery of the crew to the mysterious explosion, followed by the statement, “I feel sure
that the S.S. Ourang Medan tragedy holds the answer to many of these airplane accidents,
and unsolved mysteries of the sea.” [Include screenshot of letter found at https://www.cia.gov/library/readingroom/docs/CIA-RDP80R01731R000300010043-5.pdf] Marck also goes on to highlight what he calls
“alarming” passages in old English chronicles, and talks about the sightings of huge fiery
spheres rising from or disappearing into the sea by ship captains and crews. Most chilling of all however is the question
Marck poses to the unknown recipient: “Do you think “something from the unknown”
is involved?”. At the end of the letter, he then asks “the
enchanting sea, what terrifying “secret” does it hold? I feel sure that the S.S. Ourang Medan tragedy
also holds the answer to this “secret”. What exactly did Marck mean by “something
from the unknown” being involved? What “secret” was he inferring to? Why did he place both in quotation marks? Why was the assistant to the director of the
CIA concerned by a simple ghost ship story, and who was this mysterious recipient who’s
identity the CIA has kept classified? If the Ouran Medan was nothing more than a
tall sea tale, why was the most powerful intelligence agency in the world interested in the story? We love ghost stories here at The Infographics
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wix.com/go/infographics and check out how easy it is to make an awesome site! What do you think happened to the Ourang Medan? Why was the CIA interested? Let us know in the comments. Also, be sure to check out our other video
The Cannibal Island – Real Life Battle Royale. Thanks for watching, and as always, please
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