Changes to Cardigan Bay

Last night (21 June), the outcome of the Cardigan Bay Coast Review was delivered to the three lifeboat stations that were reviewed – Pwllheli, Barmouth and New Quay.

Pwllheli lifeboats

Photo: Nicholas Leach

What is a Coast Review?

A Coast Review occurs every five years on each stretch of coast. This is to review all aspects of our operations including the allocation of lifeboats and making sure that the lifeboats in place are appropriate to what the area needs – this is based on the type and frequency of rescues on that stretch of coast. We do this to make sure we are providing the best possible search and rescue service while making the best use of public donations.

Changes to lifeboats

The Cardigan Bay Coast Review found that all three Mersey lifeboats in Cardigan Bay are nearing the end of their operational life. As a result, we have taken the opportunity to look at the most effective combination of new, faster lifeboats for future lifesaving in the area.

Pwllheli and Barmouth Lifeboat Stations will each be allocated a 25-knot Shannon class all-weather lifeboat whilst New Quay will be allocated a faster Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat (B class) to respond to those in trouble around the coast.

Both Pwllheli and Barmouth Lifeboat Stations’ new Shannon class lifeboats will replace their existing Mersey class lifeboats and will operate alongside their existing D class inshore lifeboats. The new 35-knot Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat at New Quay will replace the station’s existing Mersey class all-weather lifeboat and will complement the station’s existing D class inshore lifeboat.

It is unlikely that this replacement will happen before 2020, as Pwllheli and Barmouth are due to get their Shannon class lifeboats after building work to modify the lifeboat stations is completed in the next few years. This means that New Quay’s all-weather lifeboat will not leave Ceredigion until the Shannon class lifeboats are stationed at Barmouth and Pwllheli and New Quay’s new Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat arrives for service.

George Rawlinson, RNLI Operations Director explains the decision from the Coast Review:

‘This is an important change for the RNLI in Cardigan Bay as we continue to improve the lifeboat service around the coast. The capability and standards of our lifeboats are constantly developing and improving; resulting in safer, more advanced lifeboats for our volunteer crews. The Mersey class all-weather lifeboats have served the area well, but as the Shannon class lifeboat is slowly introduced across the coast our volunteer crews will be able to respond quicker – and travel further – to help those in trouble at sea.

‘Changing the type of lifeboat at a station is never a decision that’s taken lightly – we understand the attachment a crew feel for an all-weather lifeboat that has kept them safe at sea for many years. The decision to replace the all-weather lifeboat at New Quay was underpinned by extensive research of records going back to 2008.

‘It concluded that services by New Quay RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat could have been carried out safely and effectively by an Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat, supported by 25-knot lifeboats at neighbouring stations if required. We understand that this decision will be difficult for New Quay lifeboat station, however we are confident that this is the best rescue asset to service this stretch of coast as we look to the future in Cardigan Bay.’