There are currently five classes of all-weather lifeboat (Tamar, Severn, Trent, Tyne and Mersey) in the RNLI fleet and the Tamar class lifeboat is the RNLI's newest class. Designed to be launched from a slipway, with her mast and aerials being lowered to fit into a boathouse, the Tamar can also lie afloat. In 2010, Tamar class lifeboats launched 206 times and rescued 310 people, saving 8 lives.
The Tamar is fitted with an integrated electronic Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) so that the crew can monitor, operate and control many of the boat’s systems directly from their shock-mitigating seats, improving their safety.
The bespoke seats enhance crew comfort and safety. They also incorporate essential controls such as throttles and joystick with the trackball for the SIMS screen close to hand. The Tamar’s propellers and rudders lie in partial tunnels set into the hull that, along with steel-lined main and bilge keels, provide excellent protection from damage in shallow water or slipway operations. In addition to her twin engines, the lifeboat is fitted with a hydraulic-powered bow thruster for improved manoeuvrability. The Tamar carries a Y boat, an inflatable powered daughter boat housed under the aft deck, which can be deployed from a hinged door in the transom. The Y boat has a 15hp outboard engine and is used in moderate conditions to access areas the lifeboat cannot reach. Comprehensive first aid equipment includes stretchers, oxygen and Entonox and other equipment includes a portable salvage pump carried in a watertight container. The first Tamar went on station at Tenby in Wales in 2006 and the Tamar class lifeboats will gradually replace the Tyne class.
Slipway or afloat
Number in fleet:
16 at stations plus 4 in the relief fleet
250 nautical miles
Hull: fibre-reinforced composite with single-skin section below the chine and 100mm thick foam-cored sandwich above;
Deck and superstructure: 25mm foam-cored sandwich
2 x Caterpillar C18 marine diesel; 1,001hp each at 2,300rpm
Self-righting – 44
Non self-righting – 118
The integrated electronic Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) offers the crew the ability to monitor, operate and control many of the boat’s systems directly from the safety of their seats.
SIMS provides access to all communications (VHF, MF, DF, intercom), navigation (radar, chart, DGPS, depth and speed) and machinery monitoring including engines, transmission, fuel and bilge.
Walton and Frinton lifeboat was at the centre of national media attention during a 5-day operation to blow up a huge parachute mine originally dropped by a Luftwaffe raider in the Second World War.
The Irene Muriel Rees was called to the 168m Congo River after the 2,000lb bomb got stuck in the dredger’s suction pipe about 9 miles offshore on Friday 15 July.
The Tamar class lifeboat launched twice to ferry Navy bomb disposal experts and equipment to the dredger and stood-by while 27 non-essential crew were evacuated. Navy personnel freed the still shiny bomb – in a delicate condition due to a damaged skin – and returned it to the seabed. Weather delays meant it was Tuesday before the 70-year-old mine was detonated in 27m of water, sending a 90m plume of water into the sky.
Locations of Tamar class lifeboats
(As at September 2011)
Walton and Frinton
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