The Isle of Man’s first Shannon lifeboat goes into service
Peel’s RNLI lifeboat Frank and Brenda Winter - the first Shannon class all-weather lifeboat to be stationed in the Isle of Man - has entered service today (Wednesday 20 October 2021) at 13.35 in a symbolic nod to the lifeboat’s operational number.
The long-waited decision comes after RNLI assessors agreed this week that Peel’s crew members, both ashore and afloat, had demonstrated their ability to safely operate the lifeboat and its launch and recovery system.
These skills were developed and tested through days and weeks of intense training during September and October.
‘As Lifeboat Operations Manager I am immensely proud of and grateful for the dedication, enthusiasm and hard work of our crew members that has successfully brought us to this point,’ commented Allen Corlett.
‘Everyone at Peel Lifeboat is delighted that we will finally be able to assist those in danger at sea using the most advanced lifeboat in the RNLI fleet,’ he added.
Shannon Lifeboat 13-35 Frank and Brenda Winter first arrived in the Isle of Man in March 2020. The pandemic soon put training on hold, with the lifeboat lying ashore in Fleetwood for 10 months. The lifeboat returned in July 2021 in time for HRH The Princess Royal to conduct a pre-service inspection on 5 July, Tynwald Day. The impressive Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS) arrived a day later via the Isle of Man Steam Packet.
The £2.2 million Shannon will improve the crew’s ability to save lives at sea. It is more manoeuvrable, safer, faster and has a greater range than the Mersey class lifeboat it replaces.
One of the key innovations of the Shannon is its jet propulsion system. With the usual propellers and rudders replaced by water jets the lifeboat can turn in its own length, navigate around hazards and stop almost instantly.
The Shannon is designed to keep the crew safer on shouts. Shock-absorbing seats protect them from impact when powering through waves. An improved Systems and Information Management System allows the crew to operate and monitor the lifeboat’s functions from the safety of their seats.
To launch and recover such a technically advanced lifeboat requires a suitably powerful tractor and innovative carriage. The £1.5 million SLARS rig features a unique turntable, which is used to rotate the lifeboat from its bow first recovery position 180 degrees, ready for the next launch. This capability alone will save valuable time: in the past recovering the Mersey Class lifeboat has been a labour-intensive process with shore crew placing and moving skids as the boat was winched up the slipway.
Most Shannon Launch and Recovery Systems are operated on expansive, flat beaches but for Peel’s steep and relatively constrained slipway the RNLI has installed a unique system of schlagel keel strips which have performed well in tests and training.
A call for volunteers
‘With our core crew now fully trained for the safe and efficient operation of the lifeboat and SLARS, we are keen to recruit new volunteers, especially for our shore crew who are vital to launching for a shout,’ Allen said. ‘I would encourage anyone who is interested in volunteering with Peel lifeboat to drop into the boathouse when it is open during the day or on Wednesday’s crew nights for a chat.’
Allen thanked the many people who help the RNLI save lives at sea: ‘As always, we are grateful for the immense generosity of supporters who make it possible for crews here and around the UK and Ireland to have essential training and vital new equipment. We couldn’t continue our life-saving work without their support.’
RNLI media contacts
For more information please telephone Carol Hunter MCIPR, RNLI Peel Lifeboat Press Officer on 07624461213 or [email protected]
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.
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