Lifeboat crew impressed by new craft

RICHARD BATSON Cromer lifeboatmen have been to see their new £2.5m rescue boat taking shape - and a “sister ship” capsize.

RICHARD BATSON

Cromer lifeboatmen have been to see their new £2.5m rescue boat taking shape - and a "sister" vessel capsize.

The resort's Royal National Lifeboat Institution crew will take delivery of its hi-tech vessel next September, but not until alterations have been made to its base on the end of the pier.

Her hull is being fitted out at Poole, Dorset, where the RNLI has also been testing the self-righting abilities of a boat built in the same batch.

Cromer station operations manager Richard Leeds said he, coxswain John Davies and mechanic Paul Watling went to see their new boat and a completed one and were impressed.

She had a top speed of 25 knots compared with the present boat's 17, and was driven by an engine that was 2½ times stronger at 1000 horsepower.

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"It is totally different. You drive it with a joystick rather than a wheel, and everything, such as engine management, radar and navigation, is computer controlled," said Mr Leeds.

The Cromer boat is just out of the paint shop and is being equipped.

Mr Leeds said she would be arriving in Norfolk in September.

But first the boathouse needs to have its slipway altered to handle the larger, different-shaped hull.

Work will begin in March and should take about 12 weeks.

During that time Cromer will have a beach-launched Mersey-class boat similar to the one at Wells. That should arrive in town in February.

Crew members have been training at Wells to familiarise themselves with their temporary vessel. Mr Leeds said they would also be trained at Poole and Cromer on their new boat before she went into service.

Several of the new class of Tamar boats were already in service, but Cromer was having the first one on the east coast, said Mr Leeds. They had performed rescues in big seas and had coped well, he added.

The Cromer crew watched capsize tests on a sister boat at Poole and were impressed by the way she popped up quickly again using her self-righting gear, with hardly a drop of water getting inside. Their boat will be called Lester, an amalgamation of the names of lifeboat supporters Derek Clifton Lethern and William Foster, who left £1.23m to the RNLI.