Launching rig enables RNLI Wells crew to train for arrival of Shannon lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

A tractor and launching rig, known as the Shannon Launch and Recovery System (SLARS), arrived at Wells new lifeboat station on Thursday. RNLI Wells volunteer crew can now start training in preparation for the arrival of the new Shannon lifeboat, expected in the Autumn.

New tractor, part of a Shannon Launch and Recovery System, arrives at RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station

RNLI/Justine Sykes

New tractor, part of a Shannon Launch and Recovery System, arrives at RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station

The SLARS has been developed to launch and recover the 18-tonne Shannon lifeboat from extremely rugged and harsh environments. Connected by a pivoting swan neck, hydraulic motors power both the tractor and the rear carriage. The vehicle can be operated in calm water up to a depth of 2.4m and shut down to withstand full submersion in water up to 9m deep if stranded on an incoming tide.

With this equipment, the new Shannon all-weather lifeboat can be launched and recovered bow first. The cradle that carries the lifeboat rotates through 180º using a unique turntable feature built into the carriage. This reduces the time and space needed to prepare for relaunch – a critical factor if the Shannon is to receive more than one call out in a day.

Training will begin next week for five of Wells volunteer crew so that they will be able to operate the complex equipment safely and efficiently.

Lifeboat Operations Manager, Chris Hardy, said ‘It is great to see the arrival of this highly capable and impressive purpose-built rig, which has been specifically designed to launch and recover the Shannon Class lifeboat in all operating conditions however extreme. We are looking forward to the intense crew training beginning in preparation for our new Shannon lifeboats arrival at Wells in a couple of months’ time.’

The rig will be stored temporarily at the top of the new slipway until the lifeboat station is complete. It will then be housed inside with the new Shannon 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 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 143,000 lives.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.

About the author

For more information, please telephone Justine Sykes, RNLI Wells Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer on 07710510516

Preparing to hook up tractor and launching rig after delivery to RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station

RNLI/Justine Sykes

Preparing to hook up tractor and launching rig after delivery to RNLI Wells Lifeboat Station
The SLARS temporarily being stored on the new slipway

RNLI/Martin Few

The SLARS temporarily being stored on the new slipway

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.