Lough Swilly RNLI’s new lifeboat is the first class to be named after an Irish river.
In their announcement yesterday, the RNLI said the name was recognition by the charity of the role of Irish lifeboat crews and volunteers throughout the 190 year history of the RNLI.
There is also a further North West connection, as Peter Eyre, an RNLI Naval Architect from Derry, was instrumental in its development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24 in his spare time.
Peter studied at Foyle and Londonderry College before studying Ship Science at the University of Southampton and undertaking a work placement with the RNLI.
The 2.4 million euro lifeboat is operated by water jets, which allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached. It is 13 metres in length and weighs 18 tonnes.
Its unique hull is designed to minimise slamming of the boat in heavy seas and the shock-absorbing seats further protect the crew from impact when powering through the waves. An improved Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) allows the crew to operate and monitor many of the lifeboat’s functions from the safety of their seats.
A spokesperson for the RNLI stated that, as with all RNLI all-weather lifeboats, the Shannon is designed to be inherently “self-righting,” returning to an upright position in the event of capsize.
It will replace the Mersey and Tyne class lifeboats, which are now nearing the end of their operational lives. Once rolled out, the entire all-weather lifeboat fleet will be capable of 25 knots, making the lifesaving service more efficient and effective than ever before.
Lough Swilly’s lifeboats have launched 710 times and saved 47 lives, as well as bringing 517 others safely home, since its establishment in 1988. Of this total, 380 of the launches have been to leisure craft, 262 during the hours of darkness and 70 of them in winds of force 8 or above.
RNLI Regional Operations Manager Martyn Smith said every lifeboat crew in Ireland wishes the volunteers in Lough Swilly the “very best.”
He said: “This lifeboat marks a significant advancement in search and rescue technology and we will be starting a comprehensive training programme for the lifeboat crew from next January before the Shannon’s arrival. The safety and welfare of our volunteer lifeboat crews was a key priority in the development of the new lifeboat class and this particular lifeboat will provide lifesaving cover off the North West coast for decades to come.”