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11 July 2013, 18:18
A new all-weather lifeboat, built in Lymington, is has been officially named at the RNLI college in Poole.
Named ‘Jock and Annie Slater’ after a former RNLI Chairman Sir Jock Slater and his wife, Lady Slater, this lifeboat has joined the charity’s relief fleet and, as such, will see service all around the UK and Republic of Ireland during her expected 50 year operational life.
The Shannon is capable of 25 knots and is powered by water jets instead of propellers for increased manoeuvrability, making it the most agile all-weather lifeboat in the fleet.
This ceremony was the first official duty of the RNLI’s new Chairman, Charles Hunter-Pease, after he formally took up the role this morning at a meeting of the charity’s Council members. While, in contrast, it was Operations Director Michael Vlasto’s final official engagement before he retires tomorrow following a distinguished 38 year career with the lifesaving charity.
Following the ceremony, Chairman Charles Hunter-Pease said after only 4 hours in the job: ‘This is a wonderful way to start my chairmanship. It’s such a privilege to host a naming ceremony as it’s a chance for all of us to thank the incredibly generous donors who have funded this lifeboat and to highlight the lifesaving work carried out by our volunteer crews; exceptional men and women who need, deserve and get the very best equipment we can provide.’
During Michael’s 38 years at the RNLI, lifeboats have more than trebled in speed and major advances have been made in crew safety. Michael has overseen the progression from the 8-knot fleet of Oakley, Barnet, Watson and Rother class lifeboats to the new, technologically advanced, 25-knot lifeboats like the Severn and Tamar classes and now today’s new Shannon class.
Michael Vlasto, who officially accepted the lifeboat during the ceremony on behalf of the RNLI, said: ‘This was my last naming ceremony as RNLI Operations Director, but, as a result, I’ve had the honour of seeing our plans for a 25-knot fleet realised. This lifeboat, the first Shannon class, marks the final piece in that jigsaw.
‘When I joined the RNLI, I was visiting crews with 8 knot lifeboats. This one is three times as fast, and she is infinitely more manoeuvrable. She’s our first ever all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets, which also means she is safer to operate in shallows, and less likely to sustain damage during launch and recovery.’
Approximately 150 guests attended the ceremony, including RNLI Trustees, Council members, staff, contractors and lifeboat enthusiasts.