The ruins of RMS Mulheim that can still be seen near Sennen Cove in Cornwall

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report

The ruins of a container ship can be still be seen rusting on the coast of Cornwall 20 years after it ran ashore.

The RMS Mulheim was transporting 2,200 tonnes of scrap car plastic from Ireland to Germany when it ran aground between Land's End and Sennen Cove on 22 March 2003.

The 294ft cargo vessel ran into difficulties early in the morning.

It led to an emergency rescue mission being launched with the RNLI and the Coastguard using a helicopter to winch the crew to safety.

Terry George, a former coxswain with Sennen Cove RNLI said: "The ship was stable, but they had running onto a spike rock and that went up through the bow with the ship and pinned it and then the sea beat her inside on, and her fate was pretty much sealed straight away."

Luckily, no crew were seriously hurt with the rescue mission being a success.

Ollie George captured the moment the ship reached it's final resting place off the coast of Cornwall Credit: Ollie George / RNLI

Terry's son, Ollie, missed the shout but took photos of the crew carrying out the operation.

Ollie said: "It's not very often you get a big merchant ship like that going aground, particularly these days with the advances in safety and technology.

"But you've always got the human element, whatever the technology in the safety systems, you've always got the human element in there."

As an investigation later found out, it was the human element that led to the ship crashing into the Cornish coast in the first place.

It was found that the chief officer on watch went to stand up from his chair, only to find his trousers caught. This caused him to fall and knock himself unconscious - and by the time he woke up, the Mulheim was closing in on the shoreline.

The crew of the ship were all rescued thanks to an operation carried out by the RNLI and the Coastguard Credit: Ollie George/ RNLI

Terry added: "It's very unfortunate. Given that he didn't alter course, he was on a straight line from Cork straight here. So yeah - bloke was unlucky. He catches his trouser leg and knocks himself out. Very, very, very unlucky."

Due to concerns about polluting the environment, the plan was originally to remove the ship from the coast. Much of the cargo and fuel was removed from the ship's hull as quickly as possible.

But after two months, it was decided that the Mulheim was far too wedged in and left to be dismantled by the sea.

Today, 20 years on after the ship ran aground it has become a tourist attraction for many of those visiting Cornwall.

Terry said: "Loads of people came to see it and [there were] tripping boats taking people there to look at it. And, you know, and that's a one off."

There are now signs warning ramblers and tourists about the ship, which still poses a 'sharp metal hazard'.