Lowestoft set for new RNLI lifeboat

LIFE-SAVER: Cutting through the waves in the Sound of Harris off the Outer Hebrides, the RNLI Shanno

LIFE-SAVER: Cutting through the waves in the Sound of Harris off the Outer Hebrides, the RNLI Shannon-class Jock and Annie lifeboat pictured here is similar to the one that will be delivered to Lowestoft in the autumn.picture: RNLI/Nigel Millard. - Credit: Archant

A new £2m lifeboat looks set to be unveiled in Lowestoft in the autumn.

Volunteer crew members and supporters of Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat station have expressed delight at the news of the work nearing completion on the town's new Shannon-class all-weather lifeboat.

The final phase of construction is gathering pace at a boatyard in Lymington in Hampshire, with the vessel due to undergo testing and trials in early summer ahead of a provisional delivery date in September.

In September 2011, Lowestoft was chosen as the first station in East Anglia to receive a Shannon-class RNLI lifeboat. The town was selected because its present Tyne-class all-weather lifeboat – the Spirit of Lowestoft – has exceeded its planned 25-year life-span.

Lowestoft RNLI lifeboat operations manager, Paul Carter, said: 'There is a real buzz around the station at the news of the arrival date of the lifeboat.

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'We were given a taste of what to expect when a prototype of the Shannon was brought to Lowestoft in 2012 and we put her through her paces at sea. It really whetted our appetite for our own craft. Since then further modifications have been made and the boat we will receive will be a state-of-the-art lifesaving vessel.'

Mr Carter added: 'The new Shannon-class lifeboat is the first RNLI all-weather lifeboat to operate using water jet engines instead of propellers giving it exceptional manoeuvrability. It is also capable of 25 knots, which is 50pc faster than the current Spirit of Lowestoft lifeboat and is able to operate in shallower water.'

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Lowestoft lifeboat crew members are scheduled to start training at the RNLI College in Poole towards the end of August or early September and the current target date for the new boat to arrive at Lowestoft is late September. There will then be a spell of further crew training before a final assessment and the boat enters service.

The Spirit of Lowestoft, which cost £450,000 when it went into service at the station in November 1987, was mostly paid for through a successful campaign by The Journal, supported by fund-raising and donations by readers.

Mike Barlow, chairman of the Lowestoft lifeboat management group, said: 'The new lifeboat costs £2m and will be named the Patsy Knight in tribute to Mrs Knight who left a legacy to the RNLI to pay for it.

'Mrs Knight died in May 2005, aged 63, and had lived in Kessingland since 1987. She also owned holiday homes in the village and at Pakefield. She had long admired the Lowestoft lifeboat crew having spent many hours watching them taking part in rescue missions or practising their manoeuvres along the coast.

'We owe a great debt of gratitude to this wonderful woman.'

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