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The Shannon Lifeboat
The design of The Shannon lifeboat (which started out as project FCB2) has taken several years to come to fruition.
The project was a complete change of direction in all weather lifeboats in as much as it uses water jets to propel the boat rather than the traditional screws
The first hull built performed well in most areas. The seakeeping was not considered good enough for the safety of the crews.
A new prototype which is now the relief lifeboat 13-01 was built. Some of the technology from the previous Tamar class was incorporated with some improvements.
After much testing and beaming smiles from crews involved in the trials she is now ready for service deployment.
Delivery Day 21 February 2014
An early start saw me travelling down to Dungeness in Kent. I had an idea that the gods were going to smile on us when i got to London and saw a blue sky instead of monsoons.
The plan was for 13-02″ The Morrell” to arrive at 1300 escorted by the current Dungeness lifeboat, Mersey class 12-27 “Pride and Spirit” and the Littlestone Atlantic 75 B-785 Fred Clarke. Meanwhile the visitors and media had the opportunity to have a look at the relief Shannon in the boathouse. Even during a powercut I was shown the inner workings of the boat by trials engineer Martin Pitman. The shock proofed seats have, like the Tamar, the SIMS system which allows the vital systems of the boat to be monitored from any seat which is safer than the old ways where the crew needed to move around the cabin even in bad weather. Instead of the previous throttle levers and steering wheel the helm now has a steering lever and two pairs of engine controls, one for the thrust buckets which divert the thrust from the engine, the other for the engine revolutions. As there is no need to go to neutral before reveresing thrust the boat can go from close to 30 knots to a standstill in around a boat length. Not something that you would do for fun but useful to have.
At the front of the boat below the helm position is a survivors compartment where 6 survivors can strap in in relative comfort. At a push over 40 casualties can be squeezed in whilst still keeping self righting capability.
I also had the chance to speak to some of the staff from the Supacat program about this awesome machine. It has been trialled over shingle, mud,sand and the boggy test tracks and it has performed with flying colours. The supacat is comprised of the cab unit and the platform which the lifeboat sits on. It is used as a permanently coupled unit. The lifeboat is winched off the beach onto the platform and strapped down with webbing straps. The turntable then spins the lifeboat around ready for relaunch. Recovery takes about 10 minutes and could , if necessary, be accomplished with two staff.
The new lifeboat duly arrived with the other two lifeboats and spent a while demonstrating its capabilities for the benefit of the assembled local residents, supporters and the media. I was totally unprepared for what happened next. We were told that the boat would be recovered, relaunched and then recovered again.
I saw her approaching the beach at speed. I was expecting her to slow down and just run up against the beach, no!, she ran onto the beach at speed sending pebbles everywhere and completely left the water. She was recovered by the supacat and then relaunched. This time I was ready for the run onto the beach which concluded the display.
Everyone was walking around with beaming smiles after the event. The crew already love her to bits and, following final crew training 13-02 will become the station boat in early March at which point the Mersey will relocate to her new location in Ireland to serve another community.
If you would like to look at some more images they can be found at Dungeness RNLI Shannon delivery