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New lifeboat begins work as RNLI marks 200 years

Lifeboats News Release

The crew of Oban lifeboat marked the 200th anniversary of the founding of the RNLI by bringing their new Shannon class lifeboat into service - at 13.50.

The new Shannon class lifeboat is illuminated with red and blue lights

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Oban's new lifeboat, The Campbell-Watson is illuminated to mark 200 years of the RNLI

The Campbell-Watson was piped into Oban in mid-December and the crew undertook an accelerated programme of retraining and certification to be able to transfer operations to the Shannon, on the day the institution celebrated two centuries of saving lives at sea.

The RNLI was founded in a London tavern on 4 March 1824 following an appeal from Sir William Hillary, who lived on the Isle of Man and witnessed many shipwrecks.

Over those years, 146,277 lives have been saved – 11,878 of them during 45,853 launches from Scotland's 46 lifeboat stations.

Oban is often Scotland's busiest single vessel all-weather lifeboat station and, in 1998, was the first to exceed 100 callouts in a single year. Since the first lifeboat was stationed in Oban, in May 1972, the volunteer crews have launched on 2,628 occasions and saved 107 lives.

The Shannon class of all-weather lifeboat is the most modern in the RNLI fleet. The Campbell-Watson is the 50th Shannon to go into service and has the hull marking 13-50.

Oban lifeboat’s Coxswain, Ally Cerexhe said bringing the new vessel on station on the day of the anniversary felt an appropriate way to mark the occasion:

“All of us are very aware that we are continuing in the footsteps of others who have gone out in all conditions to save lives at sea.

“The modern electronics and sophisticated safety systems of our new Shannon class lifeboat are a far cry from the open rowing boats and cork filled life vests of our predecessors.

“The Campbell-Watson opens a new chapter in the story of Oban lifeboat that began nearly 52 years ago.

“She is, in many ways, the best equipped vessel we’ve had for the 500 miles of coastline, 100 islands and 17 sea lochs where we operate. However, the challenges we face when we are out on operations, and the impact on those who we leave behind on land until we get back home, will never change.”

Events to mark the anniversary continue on Saturday (9 March) with the screening of the film ‘Launch’ at Oban Phoenix Cinema, followed by a question and answer session with members of the Oban crew.

A naming ceremony for The Campbell-Watson will take place in Oban at the end of June.

Six members of the crew stand on teh after deck of the new Shannon class vessel

RNLI/Stephen Lawson

Members of the crew mark the new lifeboat going into service at 13.50 on Monday afternoon

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.