In February 1948, distress calls were picked up by numerous ships near Indonesia from the Dutch freighter SS Ourang Medan. The chilling message was, “All officers including captain are dead lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.” This message was followed by indecipherable Morse code then one final grisly message… “I die.”
When the first rescue vessel arrived on the scene a few hours later, they tried to hail the Ourang Medan but there was no response to their hand and whistle signals. A boarding party was sent to the ship and what they found was a frightening sight that has made the Ourang Medan one of the strangest and scariest ghost ship stories of all time.
When Silver Star crew located and boarded the apparently undamaged Ourang Medan in a rescue attempt, the ship was found littered with corpses (including the carcass of a dog) “sprawled on their backs, the frozen faces upturned to the sun with mouths gaping open and eyes staring, the dead bodies resembled horrible caricatures”, with no survivors and no visible signs of injuries on the dead bodies. When nearing the bodies in the boiler room, the rescue crew felt a chill though the temperature was near 110°F.
The decision was made to tow the ship back to port but before they could get underway, smoke began rolling up from the hull. The rescue crew left the ship and barely had time to cut the tow lines before the Ourang Medan exploded and sank.