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Lowestoft to receive new RNLI Shannon class lifeboat

About the author

Image of Amy Ross

Amy Ross
Divisional Media Relations Manager

Lifeboats News Release

  • Date:
  • Author: Amy Ross

Lowestoft to receive new RNLI Shannon class lifeboat

Lowestoft has been chosen as the home for the first Shannon class RNLI lifeboat in East Anglia, following an RNLI coast review.

A £1.5m Shannon class lifeboat will be paid for by an extremely generous legacy gift from Mrs Patsy Knight. She left the RNLI a legacy worth around £1.3 million, requesting that it be left for the benefit of Lowestoft Station - and the RNLI decided to use it to fund a lifeboat for Lowestoft.

Mrs Knight, who died in May 2005, aged 63, had a great admiration and respect for the RNLI and its volunteer crews. She watched the lifeboat and her crew every time they were out either on service or exercising from where she lived in Kessingland. At the time she read in her local newspaper that the station would need a new lifeboat sometime in the future and she decided that she would like to leave some money in her will to Lowestoft station.

The new lifeboat will be named Patsy Knight in memory of Mrs Knight.

Family friend and executor Mrs Hilary Watts said: ‘Patsy had a great love of Lowestoft and being near the seaside since she was a child, she wanted to give something back to the town, the people and its visitors. So an inheritance gift to the RNLI for a new lifeboat was her way of making sure everyone could benefit, especially as the gift could be a gift of life.'

RNLI Income and Legacy Manager Sue Fernley said: ‘This is an especially generous gift for which we are truly grateful – as we are for all legacy gifts – no matter how large or small – whether they help towards a boat or protective boots – they all help our volunteers crews and lifeguards stay as safe as possible while saving lives.’

Lowestoft RNLI Coxswain Mechanic John Fox said: ‘It is a great honour for Lowestoft to be receiving one of the first Shannon class lifeboats in the RNLI. We are all really pleased at the station and very grateful to Hilary for all her hard work as executor to Mrs Knight’s will and being a good friend to the station.’

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 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 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.

Its 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 its predecessor - the current Tyne class lifeboat based at Lowestoft, which is capable of 17 knots. The introduction of the Shannon will be the first step in enabling the RNLI to fulfil its operation 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 it 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.

Notes to editors:

The photograph attached shows left to right: Chairman of the Lowestoft Lifeboat Management Group Mike Chapman, Hilary Watts & Lowestoft coxswain mechanic John Fox on the station’s Tyne lifeboat, pictured back in 2007 after the news that Patsy Knight had left the station a legacy.

A drawing showing what the Shannon will look like.

• *The Shannon class lifeboat was previously designated the Fast Carriage Boat 2 (FCB2).

• The newest class of RNLI lifeboat has been named the Shannon. It 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).

• The current RNLI all-weather lifeboat classes are the Severn, Tamar, Tyne, Trent and Mersey.

• Previous RNLI all-weather lifeboat classes include the Arun, Brede, Clyde, Medina, Mersey, Rother, Severn, Solent, Tamar, Tyne, Thames, Trent and Waveney.

RNLI Media Contacts:

Amy Ross, Divisional Media Relations Manager for East & Kent, 01473 718020/ 07786 668825. Email aross@rnli.org.uk

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Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 237 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland