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Crowds welcome Barry Dock RNLI’s new Shannon class lifeboat home

Lifeboats News Release

On Sunday 17 March, crowds gathered on the headlands and promenade of Whitmore Bay to welcome home Barry Dock’s new state-of-the-art Shannon class lifeboat, the Richard and Caroline Colton II.

RNLI/Barry Dock

The entire crew involved with the arrival of Barry Dock's new Shannon class lifeboat

A crew of 5 travelled to the RNLI College and training centre in Poole a week before to undergo extensive training, before departing on a 4 day passage back to Barry via Guernsey, Falmouth, Newlyn and Swansea, arriving at midday on St Patricks Day through the harbour entrance of Barry Dock.

Barry Dock’s RNLI Coxswain had the important role of bringing the Shannon home. It was a historic moment for Andy Gavan, who is operational on three different classes of lifeboat – the D class inshore lifeboat, the Trent and now the Shannon.

Andy said says:

'It has been a long passage for our crew on our route back to Barry Dock but we have taken the time to get acquainted with the advanced technology on board and the lifesaving equipment, running through repeated drills and scenarios. We experienced sea conditions which demonstrated the full capabilities of our Shannon class lifeboat, giving the crew confidence in their abilities also.

'Bringing this lifeboat home to Barry Dock is one of the greatest honours of my RNLI career. Rounding the corner of the headland and seeing the crowds who had turned to welcome us home was an incredibly humbling and emotional experience which will stay with me for a very long time.

'Whilst our Trent class lifeboat has served us well for two decades, this modern, faster and more capable lifeboat will help us to save more lives off the coast of the Bristol Channel. We are incredibly grateful for all the support we have received, from the generosity of members of public, our flank stations, our search and rescue partners of Coastguard Rescue Teams and National Coastwatch, to our local boaters and rowers. Today would not have happened without this support.'

On the morning of Sunday 17 March, accompanied by lifeboats from The Mumbles and Port Talbot, the new Barry Dock Shannon class lifeboat reached Porthcawl. And for the final leg of the journey back to Barry, the crew were accompanied by volunteers from Atlantic Pacific at Atlantic College on board the Naomi, one of the last original UWC Atlantic ribs.

They were also joined by ABP Pilot vessel Terra Nova and Bristol Pilots Bristol Interceptor; RNLI lifeboats from Porthcawl, Penarth, Portishead, Weston-super-Mare, Burnham and Minehead. In addition, Whitmore Bay Lifeguards' Rescue Watercraft and Barry Dock’s own Trent and D class lifeboats. It’s believed to have been the largest number of lifeboats congregated together in the channel than ever before.

Crowds cheered as the flotilla of lifeboats sailed round the headland from Friars Point, and the Shannon class displayed its capabilities for the crowd before sailing past a two tug boat water salute and docking at its new home.

Ben Phillips, Mechanic at Barry Dock Lifeboat Station, described the moment they arrived at Whitmore Bay as ‘absolutely amazing’. He continued:

‘We’ve been planning this for quite a while and arranging the flotilla. We knew how many boats were going to be there, but actually seeing them all together from our flank stations was incredible. Definitely a once in a lifetime experience.’

The remainder of the volunteer crew will now undergo training and familiarisation with the new lifeboat before it goes into full service. In the meantime Barry Dock’s existing Trent all weather lifeboat will remain on service with the D class inshore lifeboat, to ensure the crew are still able to continue saving lives at sea.

Notes to Editor

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Flotilla of lifeboats arriving into Whitmore Bay, Barry


Rescue watercraft in Whitmore Bay

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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