#rnli – Final preparations are being put in place for 'the Homecoming', which will see Lough Swilly RNLI receive the first Shannon class lifeboat in Ireland. The station is planning a special celebration, as the €2.4 million lifeboat arrives into Lough Swilly harbour at 12 noon on Friday 10 April, to take up residence on the Donegal coastline. The Shannon class is the first lifeboat in the history of the 191 year old lifesaving charity that has been named after an Irish river, in recognition of the service and dedication of Irish lifeboat crews.
The new lifeboat will be named Derek Bullivant and has been largely funded through a legacy from Mr Derek Jim Bullivant who hailed from Bewdley, Worcestershire, UK and who passed away in September 2011.
The coxswains and mechanics from Lough Swilly RNLI have been busy training on the new lifeboat and have travelled over to Poole to familiarise themselves on it. When it arrives to its new home and before it is put on service the volunteer lifeboat crew will be receiving intensive training on site before it is declared operational and put on service.
The Shannon is the latest class of all-weather lifeboat to join the RNLI fleet and the first to be propelled by waterjets instead of traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable all-weather lifeboat in the fleet. Waterjets allow the vessel to operate in shallow waters and be intentionally beached.
The new lifeboat was developed to operate in the worst of sea conditions and is self-righting, automatically turning the right side up in the event of a capsize. 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. The lifeboat has a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, which makes it ideal for offshore searches and rescues in calm and rough seas.
The Shannon lifeboat also has another strong Irish connection. Peter Eyre, an RNLI Engineer from Derry who works at the charity's headquarters in Poole, was instrumental in the development of the new lifeboat, designing the hull form at the age of 24. He studied at Foyle College before studying Ship Science at the University of Southampton and undertaking a work placement with the RNLI.
Peter will be travelling over to Inishowen for the homecoming with his new wife Alice and hopes to be onboard the Shannon as it powers into Lough Swilly on the 10 April. Speaking about the new lifeboat Peter said, 'It's fair to say that of all the Shannon lifeboats, Lough Swilly's station boat has a special place in my heart. It was during my youth, which I spent messing around on all types of boats on the Swilly, that I learned one of the most valuable lessons regarding the power of the sea and how quickly conditions can change.
When I was designing the Shannon I had the vast range of conditions found in and around Lough Swilly at the forefront of my mind. If the Shannon could perform in those conditions I would be happy; today as we roll out the Shannon class lifeboats, I'm more than happy.'
Speaking ahead of the event Lough Swilly RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager John McCarter added, 'Everyone is welcome to come along and see our new lifeboat coming home. We are very proud of the honour that has been bestowed on us and we have been preparing the homecoming for quite some time. Everything that we do is made possible through the great support we receive around the coast and we are very grateful for it.
A new lifeboat at a station is an occasion for celebration and joy but we never forget that during its lifetime it will bring home many loved ones and launch countless times to search, rescue and train. We hope that before that happens that people will come and see the new arrival.'