According to widely circulated reports, in the 1940’s, multiple ships traversing the straits of Malacca picked up an SOS distress signal from the Dutch freighter, SS Ourang Medan. The ship’s message was simple and disturbing:

“All officers including captain are dead, lying in chartroom and bridge. Possibly whole crew dead.”

This communication was followed by a burst of indecipherable Morse code, then a final, grim message:

“I die.”

The chilling distress calls were triangulated to the source and an American merchant ship called the Silver Star rushed to assist the incapacitated ship. As the merchant ship neared, the crew noticed that there were no signs of life. A boarding party was sent over to investigate and retrieve survivors.

The vessel was littered with the corpses of the Dutch crew; their eyes wide open, their arms grasping at unseen assailants, their faces twisted into revolting visages of agony and horror. Even the ship’s dog was dead; it’s face frozen into a ghastly grimace.

“Their frozen faces were upturned to the sun… staring, as if in fear… the mouths were gaping open and the eyes staring.”

Below deck in the boiler room, a scorching 110°F, the boarding party reported an extreme chill. The people found below deck were also looking up in the same direction, indicating that whatever happened could be seen from any location on the ship. While the search team could see clear evidence that the crew of the Ourang Medan suffered profoundly at the moment of their deaths, they could find no evidence of injury or foul play on the corpses or the ship itself.

Smoke began to pour out from below deck and the boarding party scarcely had a chance to cut the towline and make it back to the Silver Star before the Ourang Medan exploded and sank.

The first official account of the event would not be printed until May of 1952 in the “Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council”, which was published by the United States Coast Guard.

More proof that the ocean is holding secrets that have yet to be discovered.

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