When the new Hastings RNLI lifeboat arrives it will come with a brand new launch and recovery system. This rig has now been completed, and the first pictures have arrived from the factory in Wales.
The new launch and recovery system acts like a mobile slipway for the Shannon lifeboat, and it can be driven directly onto the beach for recovery. Weighing in at 37 tonnes, the rig can carry an 18-tonne Shannon over any kind of beach.
It can drive straight into big surf and safely launch the lifeboat in up to 2.4m of water. Not only that but, in the event of breakdown with an incoming tide, the watertight tractor can be completely submerged in depths of up to 9m before being retrieved once the tide has receded. But in calm conditions, the tractor doesn’t even have to get wet, its hydraulic carriage tilts to allow the lifeboat to run down the slope into the water.
The lifeboat is launched at the touch of a button and the whole system requires less manual handling by shore crew volunteers, making for a safer and more efficient launch and recovery.
When it’s time to recover, the beached lifeboat is winched bow first onto the tractor’s unique turntable cradle, and is then rotated 180º, ready to be launched again within 10 minutes.
The new rig will be named the Richard and Mark Colton, after the late Mr Richard Colton of Wellingborough and his late son Mark.
The rig is due to arrive on August 20 and training will begin straight away ready for the new lifeboat on October 13.
Peter Adams, Hastings RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, said: “The RNLI can’t save lives at sea if we can’t get in to the water. This impressive piece of kit will mean that our new lifeboat will be able to launch in all weather and at any state of the tide. The challenge now is for our volunteer shore crew to get fully trained up and ready for the lifeboat’s arrival.”