Another step forward for Ramsey's new Shannon class lifeboat
Tuesday 12 October was an exciting day for the volunteer crew of Ramsey RNLI. Following a short ceremony at the RNLI’s All-Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole, Dorset, Ramsey’s new Shannon class lifeboat, the Ann & James Ritchie 2, was lowered into the water for the first time
Included in the ceremony were a few words from Ramsey crew, read aloud by John Deas, the RNLI’s Head of Production and Estates. Throughout the build the station has been kept up to date with progress of their lifeboat. The ceremony was photographed, recorded and a presentation prepared for Ramsey and the wider RNLI.
There now follows six weeks of sea trials and checks to ensure that the vessel is perfect in every respect before coming to Ramsey early next year and taking over from the Station’s current Mersey class all-weather lifeboat (ALB), the Ruby Clery.
The Ann & James Ritchie 2 has been funded by the Gough Ritchie Trust. It will be the third Ramsey lifeboat to be funded by the Ritchie family and Gough Ritchie Trust. The Oakley class ALB James Ball Ritchie served from 1970 to 1991 and the Mersey class ALB Ann & James Ritchie served from 1991 to 4 December 2019. The Ann & James Ritchie 2 will be the second Shannon class lifeboat to be stationed on the Isle of Man, Peel RNLI having the first.
Kevin Christian MBE is Ramsey’s volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager (LOM) and served as a crew member on both the James Ball Ritchie and the Ann & James Ritchie. He said: ‘We owe a huge thank you to all the teams within the RNLI who have made this possible; from the design stages through to the construction crew. It is a huge investment by the RNLI, and the Gough Ritchie Trust, and will enable us to effectively continue our work of saving life at sea in the 21st century. Thank you.
‘The impending arrival of the Shannon at Ramsey early in 2022 means an intense and demanding training schedule for the crew, both boat and shore based, as they learn how to launch, operate and recover their new vessel. Activity will begin in earnest during December with the arrival of the new and innovative Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS). This early arrival is to allow the tractor drivers to be trained and competent for this completely new method of launch and recovery.
‘In January 2022 a selected crew from Ramsey will travel to Poole for training prior to bringing our Shannon to Ramsey. There will then follow several weeks of intense training for all the crew before the Ann & James Ritchie 2 takes over as Ramsey RNLI’s lifeboat.’
The Shannon all-weather lifeboat, and accompanying SLARS unit, is 21st century technology. It is larger, faster, more manoeuvrable, and safer compared to the Mersey. It is driven by twin water jets instead of conventional propellers and rudders. It can turn in its own length or stop almost instantly, making going alongside a vessel and taking off casualties much safer. The increased speed of 25 knots, compared to 17 knots for the Mersey, means that a casualty can be reached more rapidly in difficult situations and where conditions are rapidly deteriorating. Like all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is self-righting and will return to an upright position in the event of a capsize during extreme weather or sea conditions.
The Shannon is designed for the safety of the crew, and the people rescued. The seats, with full-seat belt safety harnesses 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. The design of the SLARS unit also reduces risk, as no crew members are required to be on deck during launch or recovery.
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 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.