Date set for £2.4m lifeboat

Fleetwood's new lifeboat under construction at the RNLI headquarters at Poole, Dorset.

Fleetwood's new lifeboat under construction at the RNLI headquarters at Poole, Dorset.

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This is Fleetwood Lifeboat’s new £2.4m state-of-the-art vessel, under construction.

Fleetwood is expected to take delivery of its ultra-modern Shannon-class all-weather model, described as the ‘lifeboat man’s lifeboat’, by June next year.

The new design and the increased speed of the vessel mean Fleetwood’s crew will have to undergo extensive training to handle the boat, set to be operational by next July.

Progress on the new boat is on schedule and the hull and deck have just been completed at the RNLI HQ in Poole, Dorset,

The vessel is being provided through the RNLI’s central funds after Fleetwood was identified as being due a new vessel, with current boat William Street now having clocked up 26 years.

Fleetwood’s case for this new top-of-the range lifeboat was flagged up after it became clear the station was one of the busiest in the RNLI’s North division, covering east and west coasts. Indeed, this year Fleetwood has already dealt with 79 call-outs and looks likely to reach a record 80 missions - and then exceed it - by the end of the year.

Capt Dave Eccles, the RNLI operations manager at Fleetwood, said: “Work on the vessel is well under way and we can’t wait to get it. The hull has already been constructed, the deck is made and the crew have been down to see it. It is bang on schedule. Our training will be pretty extensive because while the William Street is propellor driven, the new boat will be jet-propelled and there is a completely different way of handling the boat.

“It is also an awful lot faster - 25 knotts per hour instead of 17. The vessel can reach a distance of 50 miles in two hours.

“It will be able to reach rescue sites quicker, which could be vital.”

The new vessel is to be named RNLB Kenneth James Pierpoint, in honour of a young RAF pilot who died during the Second World War. Alhough coming via central funds, the acquisition of the new lifeboat has been largely supported by the generous legacy of Cheshire woman Miss Kathleen Mary Pierpoint.

Capt Eccles said the crew had already enjoyed some experience of a Shannon-class vessel.

He said: “We have had sea trials and its design means it is totally suitable to the conditions at Fleetwood, especially when we get low tides. We took it out in a full Force 9 gale off the Isle of Man, and were impressed with it.”