Hoylake RNLI will be one of the first lifeboat stations in the country to receive an innovative new class of RNLI lifeboat, the Shannon.
The £1.5m Shannon (example pictured) will replace Hoylake’s Mersey class lifeboat, the Lady of Hilbre, when it comes to the end of her service in three years. The new lifeboat will be partly funded by the proceeds of a major appeal run by the charity between 2007 and 2009 which also helped pay for Hoylake’s new RNLI lifeboat station.
John Curry, Hoylake RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “Everyone at Hoylake lifeboat station is delighted and extremely honoured that we are to receive one of the first of the new Shannon class of lifeboats. Some of the crew saw the prototype of the vessel in action and were impressed by her capabilities so we are sure the Shannon will enhance our ability to save lives.”
‘We are fortunate to have a marvellous new lifeboat station here at Hoylake and the arrival of the Shannon will make the building complete. People in this area were extremely generous when we appealed for their support to raise funds for our new station and lifeboat and so we are very much looking forward to demonstrating what the appeal has helped provide for the Wirral coast.”
The Shannon 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 to allow 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 her to operate in shallow waters and be highly maneuverable, giving the crew greater control when alongside other craft and when in confined waters. The water jets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached. She 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. Additionally the Shannon 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 her predecessor the Mersey, which has a top speed of 17 knots. The introduction of the Shannon will be the first step in enabling the RNLI to fulfil its commitment to ensure that all its operational all-weather lifeboats have a top speed of 25 knots – a crucial factor when lives are at risk.
The Shannon can be launched and recovered from beaches independent of slipways and harbours and a new RNLI tractor and carriage is also being developed to accompany the Shannon. Like all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is self-righting and will return to an upright position in the event of a capsize during extreme weather or sea conditions.
The new class of lifeboat will undergo full sea trials later this year, with the first operational Shannon class lifeboats going on station in 2013.