Special tractor training as £2m lifeboat launch looms

New Shannon-class lifeboat, the Kenneth James Pierpoint.
New Shannon-class lifeboat, the Kenneth James Pierpoint.

Fleetwood Lifeboat crew members have started special training as the clock ticks down on the arrival of the town’s new £2m lifeboat.

The state-of-the-art Shannon-class boat is set to arrive in the port at around 1pm on Sunday June 26.

With the imminent arrival of the Kenneth James Pierpoint, the training of the lifeboat and shore crew will see them using an unusual vehicle on Fleetwood’s beaches.

They will use a ‘Tooltrak’ tractor, which has caterpillar tracks to enable safe passage over the sand.

The tractor will tow the inshore lifeboat and tender to its new launching place and the lifeboat crews are getting to grips with the new piece of machinery.

Captain Dave Eccles, lifeboat operations manager, said: “The training with the tractor may well come in use in the future, if there’s a problem with the pontoon, very low tides or even silting up. The shore and lifeboat crews are enjoying the experience with the tractor. It’s certainly interesting, and different to drive.”

The pontoon in the dock at the RNLI boathouse is also being upgraded to accommodate the new lifeboat, allowing the inshore lifeboat and all­-weather lifeboat to be launched from the beach.

When Kenneth James Pierpoint arrives in Fleetwood on June 26, and the vessel will be greeted at its new home by The Band and Drum Corp of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (Lancashire) as well as lots of local well­wishers.

The new vessel will be faster than current lifeboat, William Street.