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The St Ives RNLI lifeboat that can withstand a hurricane

The Nora Stachura can stop in three seconds and land directly onto the beach. Credit: ITV West Country

The RNLI is aiming for every all-weather lifeboat station in the UK to have the latest water-propelled super-boats that are currently being built in Dorset.

Exmouth, Ilfracombe, and St Ives already have a state-of-the-art Shannon Class lifeboat, which is twice as fast as its predecessor.

  • Watch the St Ives lifeboat in action

The Shannon Class is the first lifeboat to be powered by water jets rather than propellers. It pumps 1.5 tonnes of water through its jets every second.

This makes it:

  • Safer for casualties in the water
  • Much more manoeuvrable
  • Fast - with a top speed of 25 knots

Mechanic Robin Langford says she's as tough as they come.

She's very reliable. We've been out in force 10+ on service - no problems with the boat whatsoever.

She's a fantastic sea boat, state of the art.

It's a lot more friendly to the crew in rough weather. It's a much nicer place to be when the going gets tough.

– Robin Langford, Mechanic, St Ives RNLI

The Shannon class is completely self-righting. If it's turned over in rough seas it will pop back up and is totally watertight.

  • Watch this RNLI video showing the lifeboat demonstrating its self-righting ability

The Shannon's design means it can come to a halt in three seconds flat and can beach onto the sand. That's essential in St Ives where the tide line is often hundreds of yards from the boat house.

The vast tractor that picks up the lifeboat from the beach and returns it to the boathouse. Credit: ITV West Country

If the boat does land on the beach, the team deploy their vast Supacat launch and recovery system, which takes it back to the St Ives boathouse.

The Shannon class also pushes the boundaries of the RNLI's lifesaving abilities. It's capable of surviving a force 12 gale - that's a hurricane.

Personally I think no matter what if there's somebody out there we needed to help then do you know what I think we'd have a go. You know it's one of those I don't think I could be sat in the boathouse knowing there's somebody in trouble and sat there thinking do you know what it's too poor to go out.

– Rob Cocking, Coxswain, St Ives RNLI
More Shannon class lifeboats being built at Poole in Dorset. Credit: ITV West Country

The Shannon class lifeboats are being made in-house by the RNLI's own team of engineers at the purpose-built All Weather Lifeboat Centre at Poole in Dorset.

They cost £2.1 million to build but they will be in service for 25 years, saving countless lives in the process.

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