The Wrong Trousers Shipwreck – RMS Mülheim
Sailors are known to be superstitious. From bananas and whistling to renaming vessels and names that are 13 letters long, there are bad omens to avoid. Some sailors swear that some vessels are always jinxed and that misfortune will always follow it. For one unlucky vessel, it was a pair of trousers that lead to disaster.
On March 22, 2003, the 90 meter long, 2,500 dwt cargo vessel RMS Mülheim was on a typical voyage. The Mülheim had departed from Cork, Ireland and was proceeding to Lübeck, Germany with 2,200 tons of scrap plastics from automobiles. During the early morning, the Mülheim was off Land’s End along Cornwall‘s coast. Visibility was good with only a small amount of patchy fog. The officer on watch had everything under control until he attempted to stand up. The officer had been sitting in a chair rose up and had his trousers caught on the chair’s lever. Losing his balance, he fell over and knocked himself out. By the time he came around, the Mülheim was heading toward the shoreline. Before anything could be done, the vessel crashed onto the rocky shoreline in Gamper Bay.
The six crew on the Mülheim requested assistance with the Sennen RNLI lifeboat and the Land’s End Coastguard Cliff Team responded to the scene. The six crew were airlifted off the vessel by a search and rescue helicopter. The Mülheim was not as fortunate.
The RMS Mülheim sustained significant hull damage as the hull was worked against the rocks. The fuel tanks were punctured and diesel fuel was released into the sea. On May 23, 2003 the vessel was declared a constructive total loss. A salvage company was brought in to remove as much of the cargo as possible. The team hook up a conveyor system to allow workers to fill bags and brought up onto the cliffs.
In October 2003, the Mülheim broke-up by heavy seas during a fall storm. The vessel broke-in-two with portions being pushed up into a nearby rocky inlet. Floatsam from the vessel continued to wash ashore. The remains of the RMS Mülheim are still scattered along the rocky beach today.