Dorset

Waterjet-powered RNLI lifeboat 'will save 1,500 lives'

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Media captionThe first waterjet-powered lifeboat, which is 50% faster than current vessels, has been officially launched in Dorset.

The first waterjet-powered lifeboat, 50% faster than current vessels, has been officially launched in Dorset.

The Shannon class lifeboat embarked on her maiden voyage at Shell Bay, Studland, as the RNLI looks to build 50 of the vessels over the next decade.

The charity claims the new boat will rescue 1,500 people in its lifetime.

Capable of speeds up to 25 knots, the Shannon lifeboats will improve crew safety and features shock absorbing seats and computer operating systems.

Current RNLI lifeboats are powered by propellers and once the Shannon class is fully rolled out, they are expected to make up nearly a third of the RNLI's all-weather fleet.

RNLI chief executive Paul Boissier is excited to see the new boat in action.

He said: "The Shannon class has been carefully developed by our in-house team of naval architects, marine engineers and operators with the safety of the volunteer crews at the very heart of the design.

"Not only has it been developed to protect volunteers as they save lives at sea, but to reach casualties faster and with improved manoeuvrability."

The RNLI needs to raise £5m to fund two Shannons and their launch and recovery vehicles. They will act as 'relief boats' when stations around the UK need to send their lifeboats away for maintenance or repair.

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