New Quay to get new all-weather lifeboat

Hear from John Payne, Lifesaving Operations Director, about how a Shannon class ALB will replace the current Mersey class at New Quay Lifeboat Station.

Barmouth lifeboat on the sand

Yesterday I visited New Quay Lifeboat Station in Wales to let the crew and officials there know that we would be replacing the station’s Mersey class all-weather lifeboat (ALB) with a Shannon (ALB) in the next couple of years. This is a change to the decision made in 2016 to replace the Mersey with an Atlantic-85 inshore lifeboat (ILB), and follows a thorough consultation process undertaken this summer.

Background

Across the RNLI we are constantly reviewing our coastlines to ensure we have the right assets in the right place with the right supporting resources to deliver our lifesaving effect. These reviews take into account factors such as the changing trends in water use, local environmental change, search and rescue demand, the improving capabilities of modern lifeboats, and evolving technologies.

As a charity, we have a duty to spend our donors’ money wisely and sometimes that means we have to make difficult decisions that we know will have an impact on the communities around our stations. However, those decisions are made in good faith and with the intention of doing what is needed to save lives at sea.

The data considered in the 2016 review, pointed to the improved lifesaving effect of an Atlantic 85. This change of asset however, was not scheduled to happen immediately, and we agreed to monitor the situation and review our strategy for Cardigan Bay if anything changed.

Why the change in New Quay?

This summer, after an agreement to revisit our original decision, we undertook a consultation in New Quay. New intelligence which came to light confirmed investments to develop the coastal infrastructure and marinas around Cardigan Bay and to reinvigorate the local fishing industry – all of which will attract more visitors to the area and see increased water usage.

During the consultation, we engaged with multiple local stakeholders, including the Ceredigion Lifeboat Campaign group, and took into account data analysis and evidence from the relevant subject matter experts.

And we acknowledged the fact that New Quay’s ALB has a role to play in supporting other inshore lifeboats in Cardigan Bay, including providing medical care for some rescuees, search coordination and support, and specialist equipment.

These factors, among others, were considered during the Coast Review which followed the consultation. When reviewed by the RNLI Operations Committee and Trustees, the recommendation was changed from an Atlantic 85 ILB to a Shannon ALB.

Will this affect other decisions across the RNLI?

Every decision we make about RNLI assets is unique to that particular area. We make it based on current circumstances, and factors which may have an impact in the future – and we look at interconnected areas as a whole, not just one station or asset.

We will continue to monitor rescue activity, water use, evolving technologies and any other relevant factors across all our regions. And we will use this information to make sure we are spending our donors’ money on having the right assets in the right place at the right time to save the most lives.

While I understand that these decisions may not always be popular – please accept that they are made after lengthy consideration by our Operations Committee and Trustees, with our vision to save every one in mind.

What will happen with Coast Reviews and decisions over assets in the future?

Over the last 18 months we have had to pause our schedule of Coast Reviews due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve used this break to re-assess the purpose and structure of Coast Reviews including meeting with and taking into account the thoughts and experiences of people involved in the previous review visits. You can read more about this on Horizon, and I will be publishing a full schedule of reviews for 2022 and beyond in the coming weeks.