New Lifeboat On Trial

The RNLI's experimental lifeboat is visiting Devon as part of trials before coming to Exmouth later this year. 

20 launches and recoveries took place to see if the sand affects the new boat's water jet propulsion system. 

Early tests showed that there was no problem. The Shannon class is the first modern day RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets and not propellers. 

This means people who need it being reached quicker as the boat is capable of 25 knots, that's 50% faster thean the lifeboat it replaces. 

The vessel is set to replace the Mersey class lifeboat, which first came into service in 1989 and is now nearing the end of its planned 25-year life span. 

LISTEN HERE: Coxswain Tim Mock

Like the Mersey, the Shannon is designed to be launched and recovered from a beach - but can also lie afloat if necessary. It will cost £1.5 million but that has already been met by a generous legacy and will be called W&J Welburn. 

However, the station hopes to start a fundraising appeal for £150,000 that will go towards the launch and recovery vehicle, in time for the new boat's arrival, towards the end of 2013. 

The Shannon class lifeboat: 

  • will be the first all-weather lifeboat to be powered by twin waterjets instead of propellers, making it more manoeuvrable and safer to operate in shallow waters, and reducing the risk of damage during launch and recovery 
  • will have a top speed of 25 knots (the Mersey is capable of 17 knots) 
  • will be inherently self-righting, returning to an upright position in the event of a capsize will be 13m long 
  • will be equipped with SIMS (System and Information Management System), which allows crew members to monitor and operate many of the boat's functions from the safety of their seats 
  • will be launched from a specially designed tractor-borne carriage will be recovered onto the carriage bow first after grounding on the beach.
New lifeboat for Devon seaside town