A private donation from a supporter of the RNLI enabled the launch of the charity's latest hovercraft.

A private donation from a supporter of the RNLI enabled the launch of the charity’s latest hovercraft.

The new £135,000 hovercraft, named John Russell after its benefactor, entered the RNLI’s relief fleet after a dedication ceremony at The Lifeboat College in Poole.

The sixth RNLI hovercraft will join H-001 Molly Rayner at the organisation’s Poole headquarters as a relief craft, meaning it could be called into service at a moment’s notice to replace any of the four active hovercrafts stationed at Morecambe Bay, Hunstanton, Southend-on-Sea and New Brighton.

The craft will allow for periodic maintenance and repair to be carried out at these permanent hovercraft stations, ensuring 24-hour search and rescue cover is maintained.

Chris Price, the RNLI’s Staff Officer Operations, said: “RNLI hovercrafts have been developed to complement the work of the lifeboat service, enhancing RNLI search and rescue capabilities. All around our coast, there are areas of shallow water, sand bars and soft mud that are not accessible by conventional lifeboats.

“There is a real danger of people getting caught and sinking into mud, it can be extremely hard to break free unaided, causing potentially life threatening situations. It is in these rescue operations that hovercrafts play a vital role.”