Today (Monday 15 April), the RNLI is announcing five more RNLI lifeboat stations earmarked to receive the charity’s latest and most advanced class of lifeboat – the Shannon class – which is 50% faster than the lifeboats it will replace.
RNLI Lifeboat Stations Amble in Northumberland, Douglas on the Isle of Man, Workington in West Cumbria, Fleetwood in Lancashire and Wells in Norfolk have been earmarked to receive the Shannon, as their current all-weather lifeboats are reaching the end of their planned 25-year life span. Fleetwood will be in receipt of the Shannon in 2015, Douglas, Wells and Workington in 2016 and Amble in 2017.
Each new Shannon class lifeboat costs £2M and the RNLI is currently working to identify whether the funding for the new lifeboats, their launch and recovery vehicles and associated shoreworks (if needed) can be raised from legacy gifts or whether fundraising activity is needed. The RNLI will make a local announcement once the funding strategy has been identified.
The Shannon is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to operate with water jets, not propellers. Capable of 25 knots, the Shannon is 50% faster than the classes it has been designed to replace, which have a lower maximum speed of 17 knots. The Shannon class will also improve safety for the charity’s volunteer crews, thanks to its shock absorbing seats and on-board computer system, which allows the crews to operate and monitor the lifeboat from the safety of their seats.
Michael Vlasto, RNLI Operations Director says:
‘I have had the privilege of being involved with the RNLI for over 38 years. In that time I have witnessed great advances in the charity’s lifeboats and seen many new vessels arrive on station. However, I have never seen our volunteer crews quite as excited as they are about the Shannon. This all-weather lifeboat is half as fast again as the lifeboats it has been designed to replace and using water jet propulsion, the manoeuvrability is exceptional. Most importantly though, the Shannon has been carefully developed with the safety of the volunteer crews at the very heart of the design, allowing them to shave life-saving moments off the time it takes to reach those in trouble at sea.’
The Shannon has been developed by the RNLI’s in-house team of naval architects, marine engineers and operators to replace the majority of Mersey and some remaining Tyne class lifeboats as they reach the end of their operational life (subject to the RNLI’s 5yr-rolling review of lifesaving assets). Once the Shannon is rolled out across the UK and Ireland, this class of lifeboat will make up a third of the RNLI all-weather lifeboat fleet, at which point the RNLI will have reached its aim of operating a 25 knot all-weather lifeboat fleet.
The majority of the 50+ Shannon class lifeboats to be stationed throughout the UK and Ireland will be built at the RNLI’s new All-weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, which is currently under construction. Bringing all-weather lifeboat production in-house, will save the charity £3.7M annually.
• To date (April 2013) the RNLI can confirm that it plans to provide the following stations with a Shannon class lifeboat: Amble, Douglas, Dungeness, Exmouth, Fleetwood, Hoylake, Ilfracombe, Llandudno, Lowestoft, Montrose, Scarborough, Skegness, Selsey, St Ives, Swanage, Wells and Workington. All other stations are yet to be confirmed.
• The Shannon is designed to lie afloat or launched and recovered from a beach using a bespoke launch and recovery vehicle (L&RV), which has been designed in conjunction with Supacat Ltd. It operates in many different beach and sea conditions and allows a faster launch and recovery time compared with the Mersey system (10 and 25 minutes respectively on average) thanks to a turntable system which cradles and rotates the lifeboat ready for its next launch. Every L&RV costs £1.5M.
• The naming of the Shannon class follows in a 45-year tradition of naming the charity’s lifeboats after rivers or stretches of water, but it will be the first time that the name of an Irish river has been used, which reflects the fact that our volunteers save lives at sea around Ireland and the UK.
• Replaced lifeboats are sold to other rescue organisations, private companies or individuals. The RNLI sells old lifeboats to fellow members of the International Lifeboat Federation around the world, including Iceland, Finland, Chile and Madeira. The money raised helps the RNLI to meet its aims.
• More information on the new Shannon class lifeboat can be found online: http://www.rnli.org/newlifeboatappeal
Shannon – the next generation of RNLI lifeboat
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI – public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0845 122 6999 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland