Lifeboat crew trains for new £2.2m vessel

Fleetwood's new Shannon-class lifeboat takes a trial trip.
Fleetwood's new Shannon-class lifeboat takes a trial trip.
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Four coxswains from Fleetwood Lifeboat are undergoing vital training at the RNLI College in Dorset ready for the arrival of the town’s new £2.2m lifeboat vessel next month.

The Shannon class boat is the charity’s first modern all­weather lifeboat to be propelled by water jets instead of propellers.

This alternative design means the coxswains, who could all potentially be in command of the lifeboat and crew during rescue rescues, must become familiar with how it works before they use it.

Gary Randles, Fleetwood RNLI Coxswain, said the training will help ensure the transition from the station’s current Tyne class lifeboat to the new Shannon is as smooth as
possible.

He said: “Everyone at Fleetwood lifeboat station is proud that we are receiving a new Shannon and a huge amount of planning and training has already gone into making sure we are ready for her arrival in June.

“The Shannon is an impressive vessel, and a very different lifeboat to the Tyne class William Street which we have operated at Fleetwood since 1989. The Shannon is much faster and the fact it is jet propelled means it behaves differently from a boat with propellers but once you’ve mastered that, it is much more agile and easy to manoeuvre in shallow water.”

Joining Gary at the RNLI College in Poole this week are mechanic Steve Carroll, emergency coxswain Paul Ashworth, 2nd coxswain Tony Cowell and crewman Matt Haynes. They are being put through their paces on a relief Shannon, practicing difficult manoeuvres, high-speed work and recovering casualties as well as becoming familiar with the high-­tech electronic systems which allow the crew to control a lot of the lifeboat’s functions.

Fleetwood’s new Shannon class lifeboat is due to arrive at the lifeboat station on 26 June.

She has been funded in part by a generous legacy left to the charity by Kathleen Pierpoint and will be named Kenneth James Pierpoint in memory of her brother. A community fundraising appeal also contributed towards the cost of the £2.2m lifeboat.

Next week, crew members who serve as mechanics will be at the RNLI College for specialist training which will allow them to maintain the Shannon’s two engines and waterjets. Following the new lifeboat’s arrival at Fleetwood, there will be a couple of weeks intensive training for the crew before the lifeboat is put on service and the William Street is withdrawn.