£2.2m lifeboat arrives in town

Fleetwood's new Shannon-class lifeboat takes a trial trip.
Fleetwood's new Shannon-class lifeboat takes a trial trip.
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Fleetwood is preparing for a momentous occasion this Sunday when the town’s new £2.2m state-of the-art lifeboat finally arrives.

The town has not had a new lifeboat vessel since the old Tyne-class boat William Street arrived in October 1989 - nearly 27 years ago.

Shannon class vessel, the Kenneth James Pierpoint, is due to arrive at approximately 1.15pm, depending on conditions

And to mark the big occasion, The Band and Drum Corp of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Lancashire) will be on hand to salute the boat as she comes into the RNLI boat pen.

Crowds are expected to gather to welcome the gleaming vessel, which has been constructed from scratch down at the RNLI’s HQ in Poole, Dorset.

Dave Eccles, Fleetwood RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said everyone at the station has been looking forward to the vessel’s arrival for months.

He said: “While we will miss the William Street, which has served our station incredibly well for 27 years, the arrival of our new lifeboat will bring about a new era of lifesaving for Fleetwood RNLI.

“The Shannon is capable of speeds of 25 knots, almost 50 per cent faster than our current lifeboat, and is more manoeuvrable. That means our crew will reach casualties more quickly and effectively, increasing the chances of saving their lives.”

Fleetwood is only the second RNLI lifeboat station in the north of England to receive a Shannon boat, which is the first modern RNLI all-weather lifeboat to be propelled by water jets instead of propellers.

Designed by an in-house RNLI team, it is the most agile all-weather lifeboat in the charity’s fleet and has been developed with the safety and welfare of RNLI volunteer crews as a key priority.

The Shannon replaces the station’s current RNLI Tyne class lifeboat, William Street, which has operated at Fleetwood since 1989. In that time, the lifeboat has carried out 528 rescues, saving 542 people.

The new lifeboat has been funded by a generous legacy left to the charity by Miss Kathleen Pierpoint from Altrincham, Cheshire, who died in 2012.

She requested the RNLI use her gift to provide a lifeboat in memory of her brother Kenneth, a young RAF pilot killed in a World War Two flying accident in 1942.

Crew members have already undergone specialist training to prepare for the new lifeboat but following her arrival at Fleetwood, there will be a further period of intensive training before the lifeboat is put on service and the Tyne withdrawn.

Martin Jaggs, RNLI Divisional Operations Manager, said: ‘The volunteer crew at Fleetwood have already shown a huge amount of dedication, spending time away from their families and in some cases taking holiday from work in order to fulfill the training requirements that come with a new all-weather lifeboat.”

The Steamer pub, on Queens Terrace, is a big supporter of Fleetwood Lifeboat and raised over £1,000 for it in the last 12 months.

Landlady Gerry Northwood said: “It’s wonderful that money has been made available for the Fleetwood crew to be kitted out with this state-of-the art equipment.

“We’ll be there on Sunday to see the new boat coming in to Fleetwood.”