The Shannon is the RNLI’s first all-weather lifeboat to be powered by water jets rather than traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat to enter the charity’s fleet.
The lifeboat – named The Morrell – arrived at Dungeness lifeboat station today at 1pm, and was greeted on the beach by a crowd of people, including RNLI crew members, volunteers and staff, their friends and families, supporters of the charity and members of the public.
Capable of 25 knots, the Shannon is 50% faster than the lifeboats it will replace – meaning casualties will be reached quicker. The increased manoeuvrability may be vital when precision really matters, such as operating alongside a stricken vessel or navigating around hazards. The use of water jets also allows the volunteer crews to operate the lifeboat in shallower waters, increasing the areas which the lifeboat can reach.
Stuart Adams, Dungeness lifeboat station coxswain, was on board The Morrell as it arrived at Dungeness today. He said: ‘We are all delighted to have received our Shannon class lifeboat here at Dungeness.
‘This lifeboat is faster and so much more agile than our old Mersey class lifeboat – although she’s served us well over the years. It will help us reach those in trouble at sea quicker and its incredible manoeuvrability will be a real asset when we’re out at sea carrying out rescues in all weathers.
‘The Shannon is unlike any lifeboat I’ve ever known. It has taken lifeboating to the next level and will, without doubt, help us save lives at sea.’
RNLI Chief Executive, Paul Boissier, said: ‘We are thrilled that our first Shannon class lifeboat has now arrived at a lifeboat station and will soon be ready to save lives at sea. The Shannon is a fantastic lifesaving vessel which is capable of carrying out rescues in the most demanding sea conditions, while maintaining the safety of our volunteer crews.
‘We plan to produce at least 50 Shannon lifeboats over the next decade. Once the roll out of the Shannon class is complete, the RNLI will have achieved its aim of providing an entire fleet capable of operating at up to 25 knots around the coasts of the UK and Ireland.’
David Brook, RNLI Engineering and Supply Director, said: ‘The design and features of the Shannon have been developed with the safety and welfare of our volunteer crews as a key priority.
‘The lifeboat’s unique hull, designed in-house by RNLI naval architects, has been produced to minimise slamming of the boat in heavy seas. The specially designed shock-absorbing seats further protect the volunteer crews from impact when powering through the waves while on a rescue.
‘A specially designed Launch and Recovery System has been produced in conjunction with Supacat for beach-launched Shannon class lifeboats, such as The Morrell at Dungeness. It operates as a mobile slipway, which solves the unique challenge of transporting, launching and recovering the 18-tonne Shannon over some of Britain’s most demanding beaches.
‘The Shannon’s Launch and Recovery System allows a faster and safer launch and recovery compared with the Mersey system. This means that casualties can be reached sooner and our volunteer launching crews are better protected.’
Dungeness’ Shannon class lifeboat, The Morrell, and its Launch and Recovery System were entirely funded by an extremely generous legacy left by Mrs Barbara Morrell, from Bromley in Kent. The lifeboat has been named in memory of Mrs Morrell, her late husband Stanley, her brother-in-law Cyril and her sister-in-law Patricia.
Jackie Simmons was a close friend of Mrs Morrell, who passed away in 2009 aged 95, and was an executor of her will. Jackie said: ‘Barbara supported the RNLI in many different ways, including attending local events and collecting donations.
‘Having The Morrell arrive at Dungeness today is a great and generous achievement on her part, and it has fulfilled a lifelong dream. She supported the RNLI so keenly because she admired how ordinary people put themselves in danger to save others.’
The RNLI will build at least 50 new Shannon class lifeboats over the next ten years, with this class of lifeboat replacing both a selection of Mersey and Tyne class lifeboats, which are now nearing the end of their planned 25-year lifespan.
The Shannon class lifeboat costs £2M, with the Launch and Recovery System costing a further £1.5M. In its lifetime, the Shannon class is expected to rescue over 56,000 people and save more than 1,500 lives.
The crew at Dungeness will carry out further training on The Morrell – having completed two weeks of training on the Shannon at RNLI HQ in Poole earlier this month – before the lifeboat is due to go operational in early March.
RNLI media contacts
For more information please contact Luke Blissett, Public Relations Officer, on 07836 511633 or Tim Ash, Public Relations Manager for East of England, on 07785 296252. Alternatively, call the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.