Sheringham's new lifeboat revealed

People who get in trouble off the north Norfolk coast have a new speedier lifesaving saviour after a lifeboat became the first of its kind to become operational in the region yesterday.

People who get in trouble off the north Norfolk coast have a new speedier lifesaving saviour after a lifeboat became the first of its kind to become operational in the region yesterday.

Sheringham's new Atlantic 85 inshore boat will be able to shave off up to a third of the time it takes for the RNLI to reach stricken sailors and struggling swimmers.

The £135,000 boat, which replaces the station's previous Atlantic 75 model, can reach 35 knots and comes equipped with radar and an innovative VHF radio direction finder.

Manned by up to four local lifeboatmen, the boat is the most modern inshore craft in the RNLI's impressive fleet and should easily prove its worth by being able to reach casualties much faster than the station's previous boat.

It took the old lifeboat about 28 minutes to reach Wells on Sunday, where 15-year-old Neel Prasantha Anandarajan died after being swept out to sea, but its replacement can manage the journey in about 20 minutes.

Brain Farrow, Sheringham's RNLI operation manager, said: “Getting this fantastic boat is like replacing your family saloon car with a top-of-the- range sports car.

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“Our job is all about getting to casualties as quickly as possible and the Atlantic 85 will certainly help us to do that.”

The station's 18 crew members have all received training for their new 8.3m boat, which was built by the RNLI at its Isle of Wight production site.

Sheringham's new boat was funded by the friendly society, the Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, which is due to officially name the craft The Oddfellows in September. The Oddfellows also funded a £68,000 new drive-on, drive-off launch carriage for the boat.

Allen Head, RNLI deputy divisional inspector of lifeboats, said: “The new boat will provide a significant operational improvement for the lifesaving efforts around Sheringham and beyond.”

Since the Sheringham lifeboat station opened in 1838, it has seen 505 launches and saved 320 lives.

The old Atlantic 75, which became operational in 1994 as The Manchester Unity of Oddfellows, will now become part of the RNLI's relief fleet.

As part of the RNLI's continuing plans to modernise its fleet, Cromer will get a new Tamar-class all-weather boat later this year.

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