After successful trials last year at five locations around the coast the placement of the first station hovercraft has been agreed

After successful trials last year at five locations around the coast the placement of the first station hovercraft has been agreed.

Subject to final approval by the RNLI Executive Committee, the first RNLI rescue hovercraft will be located at Morecambe early in 2003. This follows an earlier decision by the Executive Committee for hovercraft to join the RNLI lifeboat fleet to help save more lives.

The decision was made after successful trials last year at five locations, including Morecambe. Tony Stankus, the recently appointed RNLI hovercraft operations manager, says, “During the trials we tested a standard Griffon 450TD hovercraft to establish the terrains and conditions it could work with and the amount of training required for the volunteers who would operate it. The trials proved the hovercraft could withstand damage, was easy to launch and worked well over sand and mud. The tests also demonstrated that crew training was similar to that undertaken by inshore lifeboat crews in terms of time and style, and the volunteer crews could easily ‘fly’ the craft.”

Currently the RNLI is looking at various sites at Morecambe for the hovercraft station, ready to locate the hovercraft in the first few months of 2003. This will be a temporary site that will house the hovercraft for the foreseeable future. During this period the location will be assessed to determine whether it is the best site from which to operate.

The rescue hovercraft will be a modified version of the Griffon 450TD, which will incorporate alterations and equipment identified by the RNLI as necessary for a rescue hovercraft during the trials. To find out more please visit Lifeboats In Action