Devon towns among first to get new lifeboats
Two RNLI stations in Devon will be among the first in the country to be equipped with the rescue charity's latest state-of-the-art lifeboat.
The Shannon-class, 25-knot lifeboats are to be stationed at Exmouth and Ilfracombe and will replace the current Mersey-class lifeboats based in the two towns.
In both cases the charity's volunteer fund-raisers have kick-started local appeals to help fund launch and recovery vehicles, which are essential to move the lifeboats to and from the sea.
Exmouth coxswain Tim Mock said the new lifeboats represented an exciting future for the two stations.
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"With a top speed of 25 knots, the Shannon is almost 50% faster than the current Mersey-class lifeboats based at Ilfracombe and Exmouth, and then there's all the new technology that will be onboard to make life safer and easier for the volunteer crews," he said.
"It's hoped that the Exmouth lifeboat will arrive late next year and the Ilfracombe one sometime in 2014. We've already trialled the lifeboat and her new launch and recovery vehicle at Exmouth and we're all very keen to move on to this new chapter at both stations."
The Shannon features twin water jets instead of conventional propellers, allowing them to operate in shallow waters and be highly manoeuvrable. The jets also reduce the risk of damage to the lifeboat during launch and recovery, or when intentionally beached.
Tony Gillam, the chairman of the fundraising guild in Ilfracombe, said: "We want the communities of Exmouth and Ilfracombe to feel they are playing a part in this new chapter for both lifeboat stations.
"The residents of the two towns were absolutely superb in their support for our appeals for new life jackets, now we hope they'll put their energy behind supporting our challenge to raise funds for the new launching and recovery vehicles we need."