Littlestone lifeboat station welcome their brand new Atlantic 85 (B922) lifeboat
It says everything about the amazing support we receive from the public that even during a global pandemic the RNLI is still able to build, equip and deliver a new lifeboat.
Originally due to arrive in March this year, the boat is named after very special lady, Jean McIvor, who left the RNLI a generous legacy that allowed us to have the brand new Atlantic ’85 boat built at Cowes.
Mrs Jean Campbell McIvor from Middlesex passed away in October 2017 and was a WRAF radar operator during WW2 and also the River Thames Punting Champion from 1947-50.
Mrs McIvor’s legacy was in excess of £600,000 so it wasn’t only able to pay for the lifeboat but any remaining funds are to be used for the running costs of Littlestone Lifeboat Station, so there will be an ongoing connection between Jean McIvor and Littlestone for many years to come.
The new Atlantic 85 will eventually take over operational duties as we say a fond farewell to our Atlantic 75 Fred Clarke currently in service at Littlestone. The volunteer crew are busy getting aquainted with the new boat and training has been ongoing day and night at the station.
There are two types of B class lifeboat, the Atlantic 75 and the Atlantic 85 named after Atlantic College in Wales where these rigid inflatable lifeboats (RIBs) were first developed. 75 and 85 represent the lengths of the lifeboats – nearly 7.5m and 8.5m respectively.
The new '85 goes three knots faster than the '75 it replaces (35 knots compared with 32 knots) and can stay at sea for longer (3 hours compared to 2.5 hours). It also has upgraded electronics including radar and UHF direction finding equipment.
Introduced into the fleet in 2005, the Atlantic 85 is the third generation of B class lifeboat and is gradually replacing the Atlantic 75.
Our LOM (Lifeboat Operations Manager) Matt Crittenden talks about the arrival:
‘Monday the 7th December brought with it something I was not sure we would see this year, our fabulous new lifeboat. It was late in the day and she and her delivery driver Tim stayed tucked up for the night at the station.
To be honest I have had days where I thought we would never see her, but on the Tuesday morning myself and a skeleton crew attended to see her off loaded. I can say at 54 years old I rarely get excited but this felt truly spectacular.
Our Atlantic 75 has served faithfully for over twenty years and we will be sad to see her go but what we have now is Stars Wars in comparison. The conversion from old to new is going to take some time and especially in the current climate.
The crews have bent over backwards this year to make what we do work and continue to do so . The process of conversion to the Atlantic 85 is a timely procedure but has started with training of both our core bubble duty crews being spread out over several weeks.
We are hoping to have her fully search and rescue capable and on service early in the new year. I cannot begin to express our thanks as a crew and station for the new lifeboat which was so kindly funded by its name sake Jean Mcivor it will soon be ready to join the RNLIs fleet of lifeboats and along with her volunteer crews be ready to save lives at sea.’
We are starting to arrange a naming ceremony for 2021 when hopefully we will be able to invite the public to our station once again.
This is a very exciting time for the whole crew who are so thankful to Jean and her family. This is a really important part of our stations history.
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.