The latest class of all-weather lifeboat has been named

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) has announced that its latest all-weather class of lifeboat will be called the Shannon.

It follows in 45-year tradition of naming the charity’s lifeboats after rivers or stretches of water, but it will be the first time that the name of an Irish river has been used. Paul Boissier, RNLI Chief Executive, said: ‘I’m delighted to announce that our latest class of lifeboat will be called the Shannon. Current and previous classes of lifeboat carry, or have carried, the names of rivers from Wales, Scotland and England, so it’s fitting that our fleet now reflects the fact that our volunteers save lives at sea all around Ireland as well as the UK.”

The Shannon class lifeboat was previously designated the Fast Carriage Boat 2 or FCB2 reflecting that it will be predominantly launched over beaches. It harnesses cutting-edge technology to ensure that the new lifeboat will meet the demands of a 21st century rescue service and allow the charity’s volunteer crew to do their lifesaving work as safely as possible in all weather conditions.

Using twin waterjets instead of conventional propellers, the Shannon class will be able to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable. The waterjets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached. It can be launched, bow first, from a tractor and carriage and will have a top speed of 25 knots. Like the Tamar class lifeboat, the Shannon also has specially designed seats that protect the volunteer crew and SIMS (System and Information Management System), which allows the crew to monitor the boat from the safety of their seats.

Like all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is self-righting and will return to an upright position in the event of capsize. The Shannon will gradually replace the existing Mersey class lifeboat and will be the final step in enabling the RNLI to fulfil its commitment to ensure that all its operational lifeboats have a top speed of 25 knots.

Full sea trials will start later this year and the first operational Shannon class lifeboat is due to go on station in 2013.