Crowds welcome Swanage RNLI’s new Shannon class lifeboat

Lifeboats News Release

The first of the RNLI’s Shannon class lifeboats to go on service in Dorset has reached her new home in Swanage. Hundreds of supporters lined the seafront on Friday (8 April) to welcome the new lifeboat and catch a glimpse of her action.

The new Shannon class George Thomas Lacy was brought into the bay with Dave Turnbull at the helm, led by the current Swanage RNLI lifeboats the Mersey class lifeboat Robert Charles Brown and the D-class lifeboat Phyl & Jack and with the Coastguard helicopter overhead. Local sailors, boat owners and Swanage Sea Rowing Club members also turned out on the water to welcome her in.

The crew then demonstrated the new lifeboat’s capabilities for hundreds of excited spectators before mooring her alongside the pier for invited guests to get a closer look.

The lifeboat has been funded by several generous legacies, the largest from Mr George Lacy. Mr Lacy passed away in 2006 and was a lifelong supporter of the RNLI. 

The Shannon class is the first of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats to be powered by water-jets rather than traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable lifeboat in the charity’s fleet.

Water-jets allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. And when precision really matters, such as operating alongside a stricken vessel or navigating around hazards, they'll come into their own.

Capable of 25 knots, the new lifeboat is 50% faster than Robert Charles Brown, the all-weather lifeboat she will replace. The SIMS (System and Information Management System) allows the volunteer crew to monitor and operate the lifeboat from the safety of their seats.

As the lifeboat powers through the waves at higher speeds, new shock absorbing seats will significantly reduce the impact of the loadings on the crew.

Several Swanage RNLI volunteers brought the lifeboat home from Poole on a two day passage, which saw them stop off at Portsmouth and Weymouth while undergoing further training exercises.

Dave Turnbull, new coxswain of the lifeboat, said: ‘It was a very special moment for me to be able to bring the new lifeboat home to Swanage. The response from the local community has been fantastic, it was great to see so many people waiting for us to arrive and wishing us well.’

Captain Neil Hardy MBE, volunteer Lifeboat Operations Manager, added: ‘We are delighted to finally have the Shannon on station. The Mersey class lifeboat has been a fantastic asset to the station for more than 20 years and we will be sad to say goodbye to her; but the Shannon will mark a new era in lifesaving for Swanage.

‘The atmosphere on arrival day was incredible and I want to sincerely thank the community of Swanage for their continued support.’

The volunteer crew at Swanage will now undergo 10 days of training followed by inspections before the Shannon is declared operational and the Mersey class is taken off service. The Shannon class lifeboat will be operational from a mooring in the bay until the station build is complete.

Notes to editors

Photos show new Shannon class lifeboat George Thomas Lacy arriving in Swanage. Credit RNLI/Andy Lyons and Nick Leach.

RNLI media contacts

For more information contact Emma Haines, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07786 668847 or emma_haines@rnli.org.uk, Becky Mack, volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer at Swanage, on 07812 558487 or lpo@swanagelifeboat.org.uk or the RNLI Duty Press Officer on 01202 336789.

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland