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New lifeboat to be stationed at Oban RNLI

Lifeboats News Release

A new Shannon class RNLI all-weather lifeboat is to come on station at Oban later this year.

The first Shannon 13 - 01 at sea


The first Shannon class lifeboat

After a handover period where two lifeboats will be in operation, The Campbell-Watson will replace the current Trent class Mora Edith MacDonald which has served the maritime, coastal and island communities from Oban since the summer of 1997.

The Shannon class of all-weather lifeboat is the most modern in the RNLI fleet. Although its maximum speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles are similar to the Trent class, Oban’s full time Coxswain Ally Cerexhe says the Shannons are a class apart in terms of handling.

‘Unlike the rest of the fleet, the Shannon is propelled by water jets instead of traditional propellers making them more manoeuvrable and agile, giving us the capability of operating safely closer to the shore than we can at the moment.

‘Across our volunteer crew we have a number of different specialisms with teams of coxswains, helms, navigators, and mechanics, all of whom will need to undergo training and familiarisation with the new vessel.

‘As a result, we imagine that there will be quite a long time when the people of Oban will see two lifeboats moored at the South Pier as we train on one and respond to call-outs on the other.’

The Campbell-Watson will be the 50th Shannon to go into service and have the hull marking 13-50.

Peter MacKinnon, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Oban, says the name of the new lifeboat recognises the generosity of the widow of a mariner from Northern Ireland:

The Campbell-Watson is currently under construction at the RNLI headquarters at Poole in Dorset. We are indebted to Elizabeth Lyall Watson whose legacy after her death in 2021 has allowed the charity to fund the building of this new vessel for Oban.

‘Mrs Watson lived in Belfast and was a long-standing supporter of the RNLI. She was the daughter of a ship's captain who served with the Gem Line, spending much of his career on routes between Scotland and Ireland; and the widow of a ship’s chief engineer who lost his life when his ship went down off Japan in 1989.

‘It is a huge privilege that we will be able to continue serving our communities from Oban in a new lifeboat named in their memory.’

The Watson legacy will cover around two thirds of the cost of the new vessel. While the RNLI is underwriting the whole project so work could get going on the new lifeboat, the hunt is on for further donors who can reduce the amount the charity needs to drawn down from its reserves to bridge the gap.

Oban is Scotland's busiest single vessel all-weather lifeboat station and was the first to exceed 100 callouts in a single year.

The volunteer crew cover just under 500 miles of coastline, including over 100 islands and 17 sea lochs.

The Mora Edith MacDonald has so far covered some 25,800 nautical miles on 1,447 ‘shouts’, including 296 medical evacuations from Mull – with two babies born on board to Mull mothers at sea between Craignure and Oban.

Notes to Editor

Oban Lifeboat volunteers in 2022 celebrated fifty years of saving lives at sea.

Oban is a busy station serving one of the largest stretches of coastline in the UK, flanked by RNLI colleagues based at Tobermory, Islay and Campbeltown.

The Oban volunteer crew operate the Trent Class All Weather lifeboat Mora Edith MacDonald from our base at the South Pier on Gallanach Road, close to the CalMac ferry terminal.

Workshop photo of the hull of the new lifeboat

RNLI All Weather Centre

Oban's new Shannon under construction
Workshop photo of the hull of the new lifeboat

RNLI/All Weather Centre

Oban's new Shannon under construction

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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