Girvan crew set to take delivery of new lifeboat

The new vessel will be named RNLB ELIZABETH AND GERTRUDE ALLAN
The new vessel will be named RNLB ELIZABETH AND GERTRUDE ALLAN

Girvan’s lifeboat crew are preparing to take delivery of their new £2.1 million Shannon class lifeboat.

The new vessel will be named ‘RNLB ELIZABETH AND GERTRUDE ALLAN’ and will be the first of its type on the West Coast of Scotland and only the second of its type so far in Scotland.

Girvan's new lifeboat undergoing sea trials.

Girvan's new lifeboat undergoing sea trials.

When Girvan lifeboat station had its coastal review a couple of years ago, it was announced that the Mersey class lifeboat 12-37 ‘Silvia Burrell’ was nearing the end of its 25-year operational life, and to this end it would be due to be replaced.

At the time of announcement the RNLI had developed a new lifeboat, the Shannon class all-weather lifeboat coming in at £2.1m was seen as a fitting replacement for the Mersey and Tyne class lifeboats and a step towards the RNLI’s goal of an all 25-knot fleet, the Shannon being powered by the vast twin Hamilton water jets as opposed to more traditional propellers giving it more increased manoeuvrability and the ability to operate in shallower waters, ideally suited to Britain’s vast and rugged coastline.

With a top speed of 25 knots and a range of 250 nautical miles, the self-righting lifeboat is ideally suited for offshore searches or equally rescues in calmer shallower waters, her twin Scania 650hp engines provides enough power to tow large vessels – and her waterjet technology allows her to manoeuvre in shallow waters, much easier than with traditional propeller seen on current lifeboats.

The team at Girvan lifeboat station as a whole were delighted to be given the news that a Shannon lifeboat would be the replacement for ‘Silvia Burrell to which the hard work began.

The new lifeboat under construction.

The new lifeboat under construction.

Craig Sommerville of Girvan Lifeboat said: “Funding for new lifeboats come in many guises, from donations made by the public, to bequests from wills or indeed benefactors, in our case the latter applies to which we are eternally grateful.

“Girvan’s new Shannon lifeboat was funded by The John & Elizabeth Allan Memorial Trust. Professor James Allan’s interest in the RNLI began as a child when he went to Fraserburgh on holiday with his family. Prof Allan and his sister Elizabeth met the lifeboat crew there and on returning a year later, Prof Allan was delighted that the crew remembered them.

“The trust has funded two Atlantic class lifeboats, one to be stationed at Enniskillen, to be named after the children of his doctor and another B Class, to be stationed at Harwich to be named after the children of his stockbroker, as they have both been an enormous support to him. They have also funded the Seahouses Shannon class lifeboat and named it after their parents to show their gratitude to them and Girvan Shannon class which will be named after his sisters.

“Professor James Allan is a very modest, kind-hearted and thoughtful man and despite his continuing ill-health, he has made his support for the RNLI a priority.”

Work on Girvan’s new lifeboat started at the RNLI’s new All Weather Lifeboat centre in Poole, Dorset on 19th September 2016, after many months hard work she finally rolled out of the (ALC) for official launch on the 5th September 2017, she is currently at Poole undergoing several weeks of sea trials prior to being accepted into the fleet, the 23rd Shannon class lifeboat to date.

Lifeboat crew are primarily volunteers, albeit apart from the full time mechanics/coxswain’s who are on station, Girvan is no exception, the crew now face several weeks of intense training to add to their already high level skillset to prepare for the arrival of the new lifeboat.

This begins in earnest as soon as trials are complete with the crew travelling down to Poole for training from late October through to December, the crew alongside an RNLI staff coxswain will continue training whilst on the 460 mile passage back to Girvan with the new lifeboat, currently although timings could alter it is anticipated that the arrival of Girvan’s new Shannon Class all-weather lifeboat will be on Sunday December 10th.

Craig Sommerville of Girvan Lifeboat said: “The arrival of a town’s new lifeboat is cause for great excitement as well as celebration and for some will be a once in a lifetime experience to participate and witness the arrival of a new lifeboat, to which we hope you will come down to join and support us in this milestone for Girvan and indeed Ayrshire.”