Ghost ships are one thing, but when a ship is found with its entire crew dead onboard, gossip churns like an undercurrent and a legend is born.

The SS Ourang Medan was reportedly a Dutch merchant ship that fell under distress in 1947 when a pair of American vessels picked up a distress message from the Medan.  A radio operator on board the Medan sent a Morse code message that read, in part “All officers including the Captain, dead in chartroom and on the bridge… I’m dying.”

When Silver Star, one of the two American vessels, located the Ourang Medan, the crew of the American ship found corpses across the ship, “sprawled on their backs, the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodied resembled horrible caricatures”.  While there were no visible signs of injury to the men, or the dog that was also found dead on board the ship, something terrible had happened and the American crew was stunned.  Suddenly, a fire broke out on the dead ship.  The Silver Star crew were forced to evacuate the ship and shortly thereafter, it was reported that the Ourang Medan exploded and sank.

While reports of a ship full of corpses is certainly one to rouse the intrigue of anyone who loves a true unsolved mystery, there are a number of theories as to what happened on the ship that day.

Many have suggested the Ourang Medan was dealing in the smuggling business, possibly heading to Costa Rica with a cargo of sulphuric acid.  The ship may have purposely avoided authorities by navigating through the Strait of Malacca before tragedy struck and the noxious fumes from the cargo silently killed the crew.  The ship’s explosion further provides rationality to this theory, as the nitroglycerin would have reacted with the sea water and caused a fire or explosion.




Of course, here at Terror Time, stories of paranormal phenomena pique our interest and there has been loads of macabre theories behind the destruction of the SS Ourang Medan.

The paranormal aspect of this story first appeared in a 1953 article in Fate Magazine, when authors considered that the ship was attacked by UFOs prior to the crew’s death.  These are shaky theories, as the only basis for them are the fact that there is no obvious causes of death and the allegedly “terrified” expressions on the crew’s face.  There also were reports that some of the crew were “pointing upward” towards an “unknown enemy”.

Perhaps the only mystery in this story is the ship itself.  Damning evidence that may conclude that this whole story was made up seem to be piled fairly high.  No mention of the mysterious SOS signals or the ship itself is in the shipping register used at that time.  Several countries’ records were scoured and no registration evidence is available for a ship called the Ourang Medan, either.  In fact, there really is nothing to concrete as far as evidence goes to even place the Silver Star at the location at the time of the alleged disaster.

But then again, no one seems to have any records of a lot of paranormal encounters throughout the centuries, do they?


Just sayin’… Cthulhu.


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