Ireland: Clifden RNLI lifeboat station in County Galway to get Mersey class lifeboat for trial period of a year – 120413 1815z

The RNLI has announced that Clifden lifeboat station in county Galway is to receive an all-weather class lifeboat for a trial period of 12 months. It will operate in conjunction with an existing inshore lifeboat service.

Mersey class lifeboat (Photo credit: RNLI)

Mersey class lifeboat
(Photo credit: RNLI)

The decision which will see the volunteer crew take delivery of a carriage launched Mersey class lifeboat, was made this week when the charitys Trustees accepted the recommendation of its Operations Committee. It follows an in-depth review of lifeboat cover in the area.

(Photo: Dennis Smith/ Example of a Mersey class lifeboat on carriage Wells lifeboat Doris M. Mann of Ampthill ON1161, Wells-next-the-Sea, Norfolk.

The RNLI carries out a five yearly review of lifeboat stations, looking at the incidents they launch to and the changing pattern of marine activities to ensure the existing and future lifeboat coverage is appropriate.

All-weather lifeboats can be operated safely in all-weather while inshore lifeboats usually operate closer to shore, in shallower water, close to cliffs, among rocks or even in caves.

Introduced as the RNLIs first fast carriage lifeboat, the Mersey class has a top speed of 17 knots. Designed to operate from a carriage, slipway or lie afloat, this class of lifeboat is also capable of being self-righted in challenging conditions. The Mersey which can carry a lifeboat crew of six also has an X boat aboard, a small unpowered and manually launched inflatable daughter boat to allow the crew to access areas where the lifeboat cannot reach.

Last year, Clifden RNLI launched eight times bringing seven people to safety. Of those launches, two services were in the dark. In all, some 82 service hours were spent at sea.
A lifeboat station was established in Clifden in early 1988 and the station currently operates two inshore lifeboats.

Responding to the announcement, John Brittain, Clifden RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager said: We are delighted that the trustees have decided to trial an all-weather lifeboat at Clifden to be co-located with our existing inshore lifeboat service. The new boat will allow us to provide lifesaving cover in all weathers up to 100 miles off the Connemara coast. This is a significant investment by the RNLI and we are excited to be trialling a Mersey class lifeboat.

Meanwhile, Owen Medland, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager said: Our charitys priority is to save lives at sea and by conducting regular reviews of lifeboat cover around our coastline, we can ensure we provide the best possible search and rescue service.

After careful scrutiny, the RNLI feels that an all-weather lifeboat may be suited to the service launches that Clifden volunteers get tasked to. The co-location of the new lifeboat for a trial period of 12 months will allow us to assess the long-term value for this type of lifeboat while ensuring that any change at Clifden means the right type, balance and capability of the lifeboats are operating in this location to respond to emergencies.

The timescale for the arrival of the all-weather lifeboat has yet to be confirmed but will coincide with the training of the volunteer lifeboat crew to meet the demands of the new vessel.

Mersey-class lifeboat

(From Wikipedia)

Mersey class lifeboats are all-weather lifeboats operated by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) from stations around the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland. They are capable of operating at up to 17 knots (31km/h) and can be launched from a carriage.

The class name comes from the River Mersey which flows into the Irish Sea in north west England.


During the 1960s and 1970s the RNLI introduced fast lifeboats capable of considerable greater speeds than the 8 knots (15km/h) of existing designs. The first of these were only able to be kept afloat as their propellers would be damaged if launched using a slipway or carriage. In 1982 the steel-hulled Tyne-class came into service which could be launched down a slipway but weighed 25 tons so was not suitable for being moved across a beach on a carriage. The answer was to build a smaller boat with an aluminium hull, which became the Mersey Class.[1]

The first, unnamed, Mersey was built in 1986 and undertook trails during 1987 and 1988. It was then taken out of service and sold the following year. It was working as a trip boat in Westport, County Mayo in 2008 carrying the name Spirit. Two more boats were built in 1988, with the first one to take up active service going to Bridlington Lifeboat Station the following year.[2]

In 1989 12-11 Lifetime Care was built with a fibre-reinforced composite (FRC) hull. Boats built in 1990 continued to use aluminium but from 1991 FRC became the standard hull material.[3][2]


The Mersey is designed to be launched from a carriage, but can also lie afloat or be slipway launched when required. Its propellers are fully protected from damage when launching or in shallow water by partial tunnels and two bilge keels. Its low height can be further reduced by collapsing its mast and aerials which then allows it to be stored in a boathouse. A sealed cabin gives it a self-righting ability.

Power comes from two Caterpillar 285hp turbo-charged engines. It carries 1,110 litres (290USgal) of fuel to give it a range of 240 nautical miles (440km). It has a crew of six and can carry a X Boat inflatable which it can deploy at sea. Its survivor compartment can carry 43 people, but more than 21 prevents self-righting should the boat capsize.[3][4]


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