New Cromer lifeboat launches

IAN CLARKE It is the Rolls-Royce of lifeboats. Cromer's new £2.6m vessel - one of only three of its kind in the country - went fully operational yesterday after a successful weekend of final trials.

IAN CLARKE

It is the Rolls-Royce of lifeboats. Cromer's new £2.6m vessel - one of only three of its kind in the country - went fully operational yesterday after a successful weekend of final trials.

The Lester is a Tamar class lifeboat and has a top speed of 25 knots compared with the 17 knots of its 20-year-old predecessor.

The control area is “like an aircraft flight deck” and the coxswain operates it with a joystick and mouse instead of a wheel and throttle.


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There are manual back-up systems if the computers fail.

Crews will be able to get to casualties much quicker and the boat will also give a smoother and more comfortable ride for the lifeboatmen, meaning they are much fresher when they arrive on scene to deal with casualties.

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“It is amazing,” was the simple verdict of operations manager Richard Leeds.

Coxswain John Davies said: “It is a far better boat, a lot more modern and has better technology and is an all round improvement.

“It gives us a lot quicker reaction time and is easier to handle.”

About 30 crewmen took part in the trials to familiarise themselves with the lifeboat, and the vessel was officially operational from 3.30pm yesterday.

“Everybody is very pleased with the boat and very excited about using it,” said Mr Davies.

“It is a marvellous bit of kit and is at the top end of the fleet.”

The 16m-long Tamar is the first of its kind on the east coast, apart from Peterhead in Scotland, and was picked by the RNLI as one of the prime sites to get the boat.

Work has been carried out to upgrade the pier end slipway to take the new- shaped vessel as well as boathouse alterations.

The name Lester has been created by using parts of the surnames of Derek Clifton Lethern and William Foster, both long-term supporters and members of the RNLI.

Mr Lethern left £1.23m to the RNLI when he died in 1992 and asked for a new lifeboat to be bought in memory of him and his friend Mr Foster.

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