Eastbourne Lifeboats - A jewel in the town's crown

PUBLISHED: 16:54 02 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:09 20 February 2013

Eastbourne Lifeboats - A jewel in the town's crown

Eastbourne Lifeboats - A jewel in the town's crown

As part of this year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Eastbourne's RNLI will receive a new, state-of-the-art Tamar class lifeboat which will be one of 1000 boats to take part in the River Thames Pageant in June.

By Mark Burden

The Diamond Jubilee touched water for the first time in Plymouth on 6 February (the same day Queen Elizabeth II ascended the throne in 1953) and the important process of checking, fitting and testing has begun. Lifeboat Press Officer (LPO) Bob Jeffery said: All tests and training should be complete by the end of June. Then she will be ready for service.

Its an upgrade if you like. A bit like going from a Mini to a Rolls Royce. The Institution hopes an official naming ceremony attended by a senior Royal will also take place at this time.

Her Majesty the Queen has been patron of the RNLI for the past six decades and during this time 60,000 lives have been saved by the lifeboat organisations brave volunteers. Considering its location, serving one of the busiest international seaways in the world in the Strait of Dover, it comes as little surprise that many of these rescues have been made from Eastbournes lifeboat station.

When dealing with accidents at sea, speed is key. Eastbournes current Mersey class lifeboat, The Royal Thames, has served for the past 20 years but is simply not fast enough to cope with the needs of a busy station that launched its boat 128 times last year. The new Tamar class lifeboat has a maximum speed of 25 knots, 35 per cent faster than The Royal Thames. This increase in speed will be crucial in their life-saving efforts.

The Diamond Jubilee has a number of other features that will aid lifeboat volunteers in their difficult and dangerous work. It will come fitted with an electronic Systems and Information Management System (SIMS) which will enable the crew to monitor, operate and control many of the boats functions from the safety of their shock-mitigating seats. It also provides access to navigation, communication, engine, fuel, transmission, bilge and machinery systems via a joystick and track-ball control. Twin engines and a hydraulic powered bow thruster will improve speed and manoeuvrability and an attached inflatable Y-boat will enable access to areas that the larger boat cannot reach. The Diamond Jubilee is designed primarily for use from a slip-way, but can also lie afloat and is inherently self-righting.

All of these features combined will make the whole operation safer and more efficient and versatile.

Although two large legacies have funded most of the 2.7m project, the Eastbourne station has relied on donations from the public too. LPO Bob Jeffery said: Its been phenomenal. People have been so supportive and have put a lot of money in our pots.

Although most of the cost of the Diamond Jubilee has been met, the Eastbourne RNLI is still in need of further funds. All donations are welcome and the organisation has arranged a number of interesting fund raising activities across the UK: nSponsored parachuting, abseiling and kayaking nSponsored walks, runs, bike-rides and swims nSponsored bungee jumps

For more information or to donate visit www.rnli.org.uk.

Latest from the Sussex Life