Lifeboat station to receive advanced new £2m vessel

Shannon class lifeboat.'credit RNLI Nathan Williams
Shannon class lifeboat.'credit RNLI Nathan Williams

A Northumberland seaside town’s lifeboat station has been earmarked to receive the RNLI’s latest and most advanced class of lifeboat.

The charity plans to replace Amble’s Mersey class lifeboat, The Four Boys – which is reaching the end of its planned 25-year life span – in 2017, with a Shannon class vessel.

The new lifeboat will cost £2million and the RNLI is currently working to identify whether the funding for the new vessel can be raised from legacy gifts or whether fund-raising activity is needed.

The Shannon is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to operate with water jets, not propellers.

Capable of 25 knots, it is 50 per cent faster than the classes it has been designed to replace.

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, said: “I have been involved with the RNLI for more than 38 years and I have never seen our volunteer crews quite as excited as they are about the Shannon.”

Rodney Burge, Amble RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “Naturally we’ll be sad to say goodbye to our current Mersey class lifeboat The Four Boys, but as she’ll be nearing the end of her operational life, everyone at the station is delighted that we’ll be receiving a Shannon class lifeboat.

“Her arrival will be greeted with much enthusiasm by our volunteer crew.

“We’re sure her increased capabilities and manoeuvrability will enhance our ability to save lives at sea.”

The Shannon has been developed by the RNLI’s in-house team of naval architects, marine engineers and operators.

Once the Shannon is rolled out across the UK and Ireland, it will make up a third of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat fleet, at which point the RNLI will have reached its aim of a 25 knot all-weather lifeboat fleet.

Most of the Shannon class boats to be stationed throughout the UK/Ireland will be built at the RNLI’s new All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole.