The Unsolved Mysteries of South-east Asia Podcast: Revisiting a ghost ship mystery in Malacca Strait

A news report detailing the Ourang Medan vessel incident published in Dutch newspaper De Locomotief on Feb 28, 1948. PHOTO: DELPHER

In this episode, we find out what might have happened to 'Ourang Medan' a distressed vessel sailing the Strait of Malacca in the 1930s - 1940s and the gruesome but mysterious death of its crew.

ST Indonesia correspondent Linda Yulisman speaks with Mr Sayed Fauzan Riyadi, maritime researcher from the Raja Ali Haji Maritime University in Riau, Indonesia, and former commander of Indonesian Navy Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh.

She also interviews Mr Siswanto Rusdi, executive director of Indonesia’s National Maritime Institute, and Dr Eric Frecon, adjunct fellow at the French Naval Academy who has written a book on piracy in Indonesian waters titled Chez les Pirates d’Indonésie.

Highlights (click/tap above): (Headphones recommended)

3:30 A bizarre SOS message being traced to S.S. Ourang Medan

9:43 Admiral Bernard Kent Sondakh says the crew could have inhaled poisonous gases leaked from its cargo.

14:12 Mr Sayed Fauzan believes it was likely an attack by Indonesian freedom fighters against a Dutch-owned asset.

17:45 Mr Siswanto says the Strait of Malacca has been a perennially piracy hotspot for more than a millennium.

20:00 Dr Frecon describes the more ambitious sea robbers as town pirates who aren't afraid to steal a cargo ship to sell it again.

20:50 Even with improved safety measures, seafarers in the Strait of Malacca remain vulnerable to extreme weather conditions and other dangers.

Produced by: Tan Jia Ning (, Linda Yulisman (, Magdalene Fung (, Ernest Luis and Teo Tong Kai

Edited by: Teo Tong Kai

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