The Shannon class is 50% faster with shock absorbing seats
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has revealed five more stations earmarked for its most advanced lifeboat.
The charity’s new Shannon class vessels are 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 approach 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 £2million and the RNLI is currently working to identify whether the funding for the new lifeboats, their launch and recovery vehicles and associated shoreworks 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 be more comfortable 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 said: ‘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 five year 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-plus 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 aims to save the charity £3.7million annually.
(Pictures show the prototype Shannon class lifeboat. Credit: RNLI/Nathan Williams)