FLEETWOOD is to get a new £1.5m all-weather lifeboat in two years’ time.
After 26 years of service, Fleetwood’s current lifeboat William Street will retire and will be replaced by the RNLI’s latest boat.
The Fleetwood crew met last spring with RNLI bosses to discuss the possibility of having one of the charity’s newly-unveiled vessels.
Coxswain Paul Ashworth said: “This decision recognises the importance and necessity of the work done by our local volunteer lifeboat crew in Fleetwood.
“The new boat will be a Shannon Class and is a state-of-the-art, 13m-long fibreglass craft which is powered by two water jets.
“The lifeboat will be equipped with a System and Information management System which allows crew members to monitor and operate many of the boats functions from the safety of their own seats.
“This replacement also guarantees the status of our station for many years to come.”
The Shannon class boat is the RNLI’s first all-weather vessel to be powered by jets of water rather than propellers.
With a top speed of 25 knots (about 30mph), the boat is almost fifty per cent quicker than the William Street, which is a Tyne class boat.
James Wilson, one of the youngest crew members added: “This is great news for the station, for local folk and for the whole of the Morecambe Bay area.
“I am looking forward to all the training that the new boat will require.”
The Shannon is smaller than some of the other lifeboats in the RNLI’s fleet but its jets mean it can manoeuvre much more swiftly, making it easier to get alongside damaged boats or people struggling in the water.
The Shannon can operate in shallow water and can land on the beach to be picked up by its specially-designed mobile launch and recovery system and turned around within minutes if it needs to go back out.
RNLI chief executive Paul Boissier said: “The Shannon class has been carefully developed by our in-house team of naval architects, marine engineers and operators with the safety of the volunteer crews at the very heart of the design.
“Not only has the Shannon been developed to protect the volunteers as they save lives at sea, but to reach casualties faster and with improved manoeuvrability, when precision really matters.”
During the next 10 years the RNLI is aiming to build more than 50 Shannon-class vessels.