There are certain stories that just never seem to leave your head for very long. I have a lot going on at any given moment up in my noodle, but the thought of the ships SS Orang Medan and USS Eldridge are never too far away. They are terrifying to me mostly because there is simply no answer. It still has never been proven one way or another if either ever even actually happened. Furthermore, since both likely involved big governments, the truth will likely always remain hidden.
The SS Orang Medan, if it even existed, was a Dutch/Indonesian merchant ship which suffered a terrible end near the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean in either 1947 or 1948. Due to said ship not being in any logs or registrations it is possible it’s business was top secret, and equally possible that it was carrying hazardous/wartime materials. It should also be noted that the Marshall Islands were used by the US as testing ground for nuclear bombs between 1946-1958.
The ship was written about first by several Dutch/Indonesian newspapers in 1948, and later in 1952, was included in “Proceedings of the Merchant Marine Council” published by the United States Coast Guard.
As the story goes, several ships, one being the Silver Star (which has been proven to exist) received distress signals from the Orang Medan. The morse code messages stated “S.O.S. from Orang Medan…..we float. Officers including Captain…dead in chartroom and on bridge. Probably whole of crew dead…” This was followed by some jibberish morse code that the other ships could not decipher. Finally came a last message, simply “I die.” Then there was nothing.
Naturally the Silver Star rushed to the ship’s aid. The Orang Medan was found undamaged, but quiet as the grave. When the Silver Star crew boarded her, they found that indeed, every single person onboard was dead. In some accounts, even a ship dog was found inexplicably dead. The crew had no obvious signs of injury, but their faces were contorted in agony. They were scattered everywhere, as if death had been sudden and all encompassing. One story states that a crewmember was found with his hand still atop the telegraph key, though this is likely just a myth.
Still other stories claim that many crewmembers were in bizarre positions, arms outstretched as if fighting invisible attackers, fingers pointing to their killer. Again, these stories are likely over-sensationalized, and are mostly used as faulty evidence to a paranormal cause of death. Regardless, the crew was dead, and something awful seemed to have killed them. But what?
Before the Silver Star could thoroughly investigate there was one final surprise; a fire broke out in Orang’s cargo hold. The Silver Star crew evacuated. The Orang Medan’s blaze grew, then it exploded, and sank to the bottom of the sea, thus making an answer to the mystery irretrievable.
Most theories suggest that the Medan was carrying some kind of dangerous chemicals. A safety breach caused the entire crew to be painfully gassed, and a final chemical reaction caused the subsequent explosion. This is certainly a logical theory. It becomes even more logical when it is considered that such an accident would likely be desirable to be covered up.
The story of the USS Eldridge is widely known thanks to the movie “The Philadelphia Experiment”. It is widely regarded as a hoax and nothing more than a conspiracy theory, though the intricacies and bizarre stories surrounding it certainly make one wonder.
The USS Eldridge and her crew during 1943 were supposedly the subjects of an experiment by the US Government to test out a possible “cloaking device” which would render the ship invisible. During a test of the device however something went wrong; instead of simply cloaking the ship, the ship was phased through time and space, fading from its original spot in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, appearing suddenly in Norfolk Virginia 200 miles away, where is was supposedly seen by the crew of the SS Andrew Furuseth. It then reappeared in its original place. Though the ship managed to reassemble its atoms correctly, many crew members were not so lucky. Some were said to have fused into the bulkhead of the ship, some where turned inside out, and some were simply gone. Supposedly the survivors were taken by the government and brainwashed to hide any proof of the occurrence. The experiments were discontinued and the ship was given a new crew.
The rest of the story gets stranger the deeper down the rabbit hole you venture. It involves aliens, incredible tales of time travel, and a cast of interesting characters (Morris Jessup, Carlos Miguel Allende/Carl M Allen, the “Gypsies”, and Al Bielek). However getting into all that will take ages, so I encourage self investigation. However each account must be taken with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism.
Regardless of truths, the idea of governments covering up nightmares aboard vessels at sea during and around WW2 continues to intrigue.
So what is the truth about these ships? Odds are we will simply never know. But we should certainly stay curious.