Last Atlantic 75 lifeboat in the south west retires after saving lives at sea
Weston RNLI has been using the Atlantic 75 lifeboat for over 20 years but now it will be replaced by a newer Atlantic 85.
The Atlantic 75 lifeboat first came to Weston in the year 2000. She was a major advance over the Atlantic 21 that was used before. The A75 with two 75 HP engines, a top speed of 32 knots and a crew of three, was great a success.
The first such craft, the Coventry and Warwickshire launched 302 times, saved 17 lives and rescued 239 people. However the lifeboat had, as for all its fellows, a rough time. Launched not only in shouts but often twice a week on training, into the heaviest weather conditions, the sea and general wear and tear took its toll. To make matters worse the Weston volunteer crew have had to operate out of a temporary station for the last almost nine years resulting in the lifeboat been kept outside, subject to wind and waves on the seafront. It was replaced in 2018 by relief lifeboats A75 Paul Alexander and finally the Joan Bate.
All the other operational stations in the UK and Ireland with Atlantic lifeboats have now moved on to the newer, heavier Atlantic 85. More powerful, faster and with increased sophistication of instrumentation. Weston, because the lifeboat was outside, stuck with the A75. However there are now only two RNLI stations in the UK and Ireland who have the A75. By the end of the year there will be no more on active service. Weston being the last in the whole South West, one of the busiest coastal regions in the RNLI.
The past few weeks have been used to train the volunteer crew on the new lifeboat. This has now been done and the new lifeboat becomes operational later this week. At the weekend we launched both the Atlantics, old and new, together with our D Class lifeboat to say goodbye to a type of lifeboat which has served us well. One of the crew afloat was David Ridout who a couple of weeks ago became the last lifeboat crew in the UK and Ireland to gain a pass as a helmsman of the A75. He has now passed as a helm for the A85..
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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 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and 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.
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