UK: Exmouth RNLI’s New State Of The Art ‘Shannon Class’ Lifeboat Arrives – Published 090514 2047z

Exmouth first in the South West to receive the new advanced ‘Shannon’ class lifeboat today

The R and J Welburn arrived. She was welcome by locals and tourists. Also a flotilla of local boats and Exmouth lifeboats: Mersey class Margaret Jean and D class George Bearman; Torbay Severn class lifeboat, Alec and Christina Dykes and Teignmouth Atlantic 85 class lifeboat, The Two Annes.

Exmouth RNLI organised a special trip aboard the Pride of Exmouth (Stuart Line Cruises) view and join the flotilla. Fortunately the weather held up, bright sunshine but windy. Goaty was on board to witness events first hand. Here are some photos, sadly the camera had a fault, so these had to be taken with a mobile phone camera, with the resultant loss of quality.





Special thanks to Tina from Exmouth RNLI for the welcome and assistance.

About the Shannon Class Lifeboat

Each new Shannon class lifeboat costs about 1.5 – 2M and 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.

R and J Welburn replaces Exmouth RNLIs elderly Mersey-class vessel. She is the first Shannon to be derlivered to an RNLI station in the South West and only the second in the whole of the UK.

The Mersey class takes 25 minutes to launch. On average it will take just 10 minutes to launch the new Shannon, offering faster turn arounds and the chance to respond quickly to another call out.

The Shannon class will also improve safety for the charitys 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 charitys 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 RNLIs 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 RNLIs 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 RNLIs 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.

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 charitys 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.

Shannon class lifeboat arriving at Exmouth RNLI

(Video credit: Exmouth RNLI)

Published on May 9, 2014

A compliation of video clips taken throughout the memorable day on Exmouth beach.

It starts with the launching of the Mersey class lifeboat, ‘Margaret Jean’ with ex-Coxswain Tim Mock who retired earlier in 2014. Then follows the flotilla of Mersey class, Shannon class ‘R and J Welburn’ (decked out in bunting), followed by D class ‘George Bearman’ and Teignmouth RNLI’s Atlantic 85 class ‘The Two Annes’.

The lifeboats pass through the estuary and into the river Exe before returning and our new Shannon lands on the beach in front of the crowd. Members of the Exe sailing club join in on the celebration.

Following a 180 degree turn, R and J Welburn relaunches and shows off a few manoeuvres before landing on the beach again.

After recovery and another spin, she moves towards the boathouse where she finally comes home to Exmouth RNLI.


Shannon-class lifeboat

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

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

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


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