Why did Japanese and US governments try to keep The Ourang Medan a secret? What actually happened on-board The Ourang Medan?
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.”