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New Mersey Class Lifeboat Goes on Service at Newcastle RNLI

28th January 2022
A new Mersey class lifeboat has officially gone on service at Newcastle RNLI this week
new Mersey class lifeboat has officially gone on service at Newcastle RNLI this week

When it retired from active service at Margate on England’s southeast coast in April last year, the Mersey class all-weather lifeboat faced an uncertain future but RNLB Leonard Kent has now arrived at its new home at Newcastle in County Down where it will continue its lifesaving work.

Leonard Kent initially spent some time at the RNLI Support Centre at Poole but was considered worthy of further service and subsequently earmarked to replace Newcastle’s existing Mersey class lifeboat from where it will operate until building work at the station has been completed and their new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat arrives.

Leonard Kent was moved to a boatyard at West Cowes on the Isle of Wight and treated to a life-extension programme including upgrading the electronics to the latest Systems and Information Management System (SIMS). Leonard Kent would have been familiar with its surroundings having been built at the then FBM Marine shipyard at Cowes in1992.

Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this weekTraining on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week

On receiving the new lifeboat to Newcastle RNLI this week, Lifeboat Operations Manager Lisa Ramsden said: ‘It is with a sense of nostalgia that we bid farewell to our outgoing all-weather lifeboat, the Eleanor and Bryant Girling, which served the Newcastle community and all those whose aid she went to, for almost 30 years. As we begin a new chapter, we are looking forward to being the custodians of the Leonard Kent and the volunteer crew are excited to now have an upgraded Mersey.

‘Training on the new upgraded Systems and Information Management System was carried out while the lifeboat was on passage from Dun Laoghaire to Newcastle this week. The removal of the original radar and navigation system from the Mersey helps to reduce weight and create more space in the wheelhouse while an additional benefit for us here in Newcastle RNLI is that the new system will ensure the volunteer crew are prepared and proficient in the radar and navigation systems that will come with our future Shannon class lifeboat.’

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Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) in Ireland Information

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is a charity to save lives at sea in the waters of UK and Ireland. Funded principally by legacies and donations, the RNLI operates a fleet of lifeboats, crewed by volunteers, based at a range of coastal and inland waters stations. Working closely with UK and Ireland Coastguards, RNLI crews are available to launch at short notice to assist people and vessels in difficulties.

RNLI was founded in 1824 and is based in Poole, Dorset. The organisation raised €210m in funds in 2019, spending €200m on lifesaving activities and water safety education. RNLI also provides a beach lifeguard service in the UK and has recently developed an International drowning prevention strategy, partnering with other organisations and governments to make drowning prevention a global priority.

Irish Lifeboat Stations

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland, with an operational base in Swords, Co Dublin. Irish RNLI crews are tasked through a paging system instigated by the Irish Coast Guard which can task a range of rescue resources depending on the nature of the emergency.

Famous Irish Lifeboat Rescues

Irish Lifeboats have participated in many rescues, perhaps the most famous of which was the rescue of the crew of the Daunt Rock lightship off Cork Harbour by the Ballycotton lifeboat in 1936. Spending almost 50 hours at sea, the lifeboat stood by the drifting lightship until the proximity to the Daunt Rock forced the coxswain to get alongside and successfully rescue the lightship's crew.

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895.

FAQs

While the number of callouts to lifeboat stations varies from year to year, Howth Lifeboat station has aggregated more 'shouts' in recent years than other stations, averaging just over 60 a year.

Stations with an offshore lifeboat have a full-time mechanic, while some have a full-time coxswain. However, most lifeboat crews are volunteers.

There are 46 lifeboat stations on the island of Ireland

32 Irish lifeboat crew have been lost in rescue missions, including the 15 crew of the Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) lifeboat which capsized while attempting to rescue the crew of the SS Palme on Christmas Eve 1895

In 2019, 8,941 lifeboat launches saved 342 lives across the RNLI fleet.

The Irish fleet is a mixture of inshore and all-weather (offshore) craft. The offshore lifeboats, which range from 17m to 12m in length are either moored afloat, launched down a slipway or are towed into the sea on a trailer and launched. The inshore boats are either rigid or non-rigid inflatables.

The Irish Coast Guard in the Republic of Ireland or the UK Coastguard in Northern Ireland task lifeboats when an emergency call is received, through any of the recognised systems. These include 999/112 phone calls, Mayday/PanPan calls on VHF, a signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon (EPIRB) or distress signals.

The Irish Coast Guard is the government agency responsible for the response to, and co-ordination of, maritime accidents which require search and rescue operations. To carry out their task the Coast Guard calls on their own resources – Coast Guard units manned by volunteers and contracted helicopters, as well as "declared resources" - RNLI lifeboats and crews. While lifeboats conduct the operation, the coordination is provided by the Coast Guard.

A lifeboat coxswain (pronounced cox'n) is the skipper or master of the lifeboat.

RNLI Lifeboat crews are required to follow a particular development plan that covers a pre-agreed range of skills necessary to complete particular tasks. These skills and tasks form part of the competence-based training that is delivered both locally and at the RNLI's Lifeboat College in Poole, Dorset

 

While the RNLI is dependent on donations and legacies for funding, they also need volunteer crew and fund-raisers.

© Afloat 2020

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