New Mersey class lifeboat Leonard Kent goes on service at Newcastle RNLI
A new Mersey class lifeboat has officially gone on service at Newcastle RNLI this week.
When it retired from active service at Margate on England’s southeast coast in April last year, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat faced an uncertain future but RNLB Leonard Kent has now arrived at its new home at Newcastle where it will continue its lifesaving work.
Leonard Kent initially spent some time at the RNLI Support Centre at Poole but was considered worthy of further service and subsequently earmarked to replace Newcastle’s existing Mersey class lifeboat from where it will operate until building work at the station has been completed and their new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat arrives.
Leonard Kent was moved to a boatyard at West Cowes on the Isle of Wight and treated to a life-extension programme including upgrading the electronics to the latest Systems and Information Management System (SIMS). Leonard Kent would have been familiar with its surroundings having been built at the then FBM Marine shipyard at Cowes in1992.
On receiving the new lifeboat to Newcastle RNLI this week, Lifeboat Operations Manager Lisa Ramsden said: ‘It is with a sense of nostalgia that we bid farewell to our outgoing all-weather lifeboat, the Eleanor and Bryant Girling, which served the Newcastle community and all those whose aid she went to, for almost 30 years. As we begin a new chapter, we are looking forward to being the custodians of the Leonard Kent and the volunteer crew are excited to now have an upgraded Mersey.
‘Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week. The removal of the original radar and navigation system from the Mersey helps to reduce weight and create more space in the wheelhouse while an additional benefit for us here in Newcastle RNLI is that the new system will ensure the volunteer crew are prepared and proficient in the radar and navigation systems that will come with our future Shannon class lifeboat.’
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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