'Superlifeboat' arrives at base

Hampshire Chronicle: The Royal National Lifeboat Institution's new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat. (PA) The Royal National Lifeboat Institution's new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat. (PA)

The first of a new generation of superlifeboat powered by waterjets instead of propellers has arrived at its new base.

Hundreds of lives are expected to be saved around the UK's coastline thanks to the speed and manoeuvrability of the Shannon class of lifeboat.

Casualties will be reached quicker with the Shannon as it is capable of 25 knots, some 50% faster than the lifeboats it will replace.

RNLI officials said it is the lightest and most agile all-weather lifeboat in the charity's fleet, and can reach casualties stranded in shallower waters.

Costing £2 million each, more than 50 of these superfast lifeboats will be stationed around the British Isles over the next 10 years.

They will eventually replace many of the Mersey and Tyne classes, which are only able to reach 17 and 18 knots.

The first Shannon, the Morrell, has arrived at Dungeness, Kent, and will become operational there next month after its crew has been fully trained on it.

It is named after the family of Barbara Morrell, from Bromley, south east London, who died aged 95 in 2009, and who asked that her legacy of more than £6 million to the RNLI fund a lifeboat for Kent.

Over the course of its lifetime, the Shannon-class lifeboats are expected to save more than 1,500 lives and rescue more than 56,000 people.

Calling the fleet the Shannon follows a 45-year tradition by the RNLI to name its lifeboats after rivers.

This is the first time an Irish river has been used to reflect the fact that RNLI volunteers save lives around the coasts of the Republic of Ireland as well as the UK.

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