Swanage To Get New £1.5Million Lifeboat

Swanage RNLI lifeboat station will be home to a new, state-of-the-art Shannon class all-weather lifeboat in 2015.

The Shannon, which has a top speed of 25 knots, will replace the station's current 17-knot Mersey class lifeboat.

The announcement coincides with the 20th anniversary of Swanage's current lifeboat starting service. The Mersey class Robert Charles Brown was officially placed on service on 12 June 1992.

Martin Steeden, volunteer RNLI Coxswain, said:

'Everyone at Swanage lifeboat station is delighted that we will be receiving this new lifeboat in 2015. It will be a fantastic asset to enhance the ongoing service that the volunteers at Swanage provide. The extra speed, manoeuvrability, comfort and latest technology can only make our job of saving lives at sea easier and safer.'

The £1.5m Shannon at Swanage will be principally funded by a generous legacy left by Mr George Lacy for use by the RNLI on the Dorset coast.

Mr Lacy's granddaughter, Heather Booy, said:

'He was in the Navy and had a passion for the sea and for the RNLI. He used to have a collection box in his house and all his change would go into it. He would always talk about the RNLI - it's such a great charity - and he would be so proud to see this new lifeboat. To think that he's helping to save lives is lovely.'

The Shannon is the newest class of RNLI lifeboat and follows a 45-year tradition of naming the charity's lifeboats after rivers or stretches of water. It will be the first time that the name of a river in Ireland has been used - the River Shannon is 386km (240 miles) in length and is the longest river in Ireland.

It has been designed in-house by RNLI naval architects who have harnessed cutting-edge technology to ensure the new lifeboat meets the demands of a 21st century rescue service and allows the charity's volunteer crew to do their lifesaving work as safely as possible in all weather conditions.

The new lifeboat features twin water jets instead of conventional propellers, allowing it to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable - giving the crew greater control when alongside other craft and in confined waters. The water jets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached. It will be the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to run on water jets instead of propellers.

The Shannon's seats are designed to protect the crew members' spines as much as possible from the forces of the sea in rough weather, so they can conduct their lifesaving work in a safer, more comfortable environment. The Shannon also incorporates SIMS (System and Information Management System) which allows the crew to monitor the lifeboat from the safety of their seats, again reducing the likelihood of injury to the volunteer crew members during search and rescue operations.

With a top speed of 25 knots, the Shannon is faster than the current Mersey class lifeboat based at Swanage, which is capable of 17 knots. Like all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is self-righting and it will return to an upright position in the event of a capsize during extreme weather or sea conditions.

The new class of lifeboat is undergoing full sea trials this year, with the first operational Shannon class lifeboats going on station in 2013.